About occupancy certification


You need approval to build or renovate in most of the Northern Territory (NT). You also need approval to occupy buildings (occupancy certification).

This section has information on how to gain approval to occupy renovated and new buildings in building control areas of the NT and covers all of the following:

  • the pathways to occupancy certification
  • certification in tier 2 building control areas
  • certification of old building work 
  • mixed classes of buildings and multiple buildings on a single building permit.

What is occupancy certification

Occupancy certification provides a statement that building work has achieved a particular level of safety, health and amenity and is suitable to occupy.

Pathways to occupancy certification

Following amendments to the NT Building Act and Regulations, two new pathways to occupancy certification have been introduced, in addition to the existing occupancy permit.

For any level of occupancy certification to be granted, the building work must meet the requirements of reporting or consent authorities under other legislation, for example, development consent under the Planning Act, the Heritage Act or Disability Access Standards.

The three pathways to gain occupancy certification are:

Occupancy permit 

An occupancy permit can be issued by a building certifier where the construction and certification process have been complied with in full.

This level of certification remains the highest level.

Certificate of substantial compliance 

The certificate of substantial compliance is a new level of certification that commenced on 1 May 2016 and can be issued by a building certifier where building works occur under a valid building permit and meet the relevant technical standards, but minor variations to the approved plans or the certification process has occurred.

Certificate of existence

The certificate of existence is a new category of certification that can only be issued by the Director of Building Control on the recommendation of a building certifier.

This level of certification can only be issued for building works that were completed before 1 May 2016 where the works can be shown to meet a reasonable level of safety, health and amenity sufficient for occupancy, and other applicable technical standards.

Ongoing building safety

Even if occupancy certification is granted, if over time the building or building work becomes unsafe the owner can be required to repair, upgrade or remove the work to make it safe.

Fact sheet

You can download a fact sheet about occupancy certification in the following languages:

Read more about occupancy certification system post  moratorium reforms PDF (1.1 MB).


If you need more information about the three different levels of occupancy certification in the Northern Territory building certification system, guidelines are available for building certifiers, other building practitioners, owners and owners’ agents.

Occupancy certification guidelines PDF (269.0 KB) 


You can get more information by either:

Print all pages in this section

Last updated: 22 August 2016

Give feedback about this page.

Share this page:

URL copied!