Commercial Pony Express Review

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Projects Eligible for Pony Express Projects Not Eligible for Pony Express Prepare Application Materials Submittal Instructions Project Review and Permitting Paying Fees

Expanded Pony Express Pilot Program available for commercial permits.

As an alternative to the Express Service Review option, Planning and Development is piloting a temporary expansion of the Pony Express Review Process for smaller commercial projects such as interior alterations and upfits.

Pony Express is a commercial plan review option offered by the Planning and Development Department to expedite alterations that are 10,000 square feet or less.

If your project does not qualify for Pony Express review, the City of Raleigh also offers the following commercial plan review options: Commercial Standard Review and Commercial Express Review.

Projects Eligible for Pony Express

Business, Mercantile, S-1, S-2 Occupancies Only, meeting the following criteria:

  • 10,000 sf or less total work area.
  • Exterior work limited to like for like HVAC changeouts, existing façade & balcony work. Note: Major or Minor encroachments are not eligible for Pony Express.
  • If creating new suites, a single Pony case will be needed for each suite.
  • 1 Gen Fit-Ups (Interior Completions).
  • Spaces returning to Shell/Vacant, no CO.
  • Medical facilities classified as Business Occupancy (excluding Surgical Facilities & Ambulatory Care Facilities).

Projects Not Eligible for Pony Express

  • Medical facilities.
  • Projects with canopies, awnings, site work, new exterior equipment as part of the scope, or Major or Minor encroachments.
  • Projects identified as New Buildings, Additions, or Change of use/Occupancy.
  • Projects that involve food or beverage service requiring Wake Environmental review approval
  • Projects that involve water and sewer connections or changes to existing connections requiring Public Utilities approval
  • Projects that involve Special Hazard Fire Protection Systems
  • Projects involving Hazardous Materials, Hazardous Processes or Hazardous Classification Areas
  • Projects that are fire alarm only or fire protection only
  • Projects that involve a posted occupant load change for assembly occupancy
  • Projects that require multiple transaction numbers (multiple addresses/suites, phased construction, etc.)
  • Projects that require a NC Existing Building Code Chapter 14 Building Evaluation to show code compliance
  • Field Revisions

Prepare Application Materials

The below application forms and supporting documents are required for all projects:

The below application forms and supporting documents are required for some projects:

  • Follow the General Information for Fire Protection Permits and Inspections Guide for projects that require fire protection features (alarm, sprinkler, standpipes, access, fuel tanks, etc.).
  • Complete construction documents per 907.1.1 of NC Fire Code for fire alarm plans.
  • Cut sheet for fire alarm or sprinkler drawings that require calculations or equipment cut sheet.

Tips for Submitting Commercial Permit PDF Files:

  1. Email subject line should state “Pony Express Review Request”.
  2. Submit one PDF file containing a commercial permit application.
  3. Submit one PDF file containing commercial drawings.
  4. Submit one PDF file or file folder with all other supporting documents (truss drawings, calculations, etc.).

All application forms and supporting documents listed above must be attached as PDFs. Please send a PDF of the entire application packet (with all documents) to

Submittal Instructions

At this step, your application materials should be ready to assemble. Please take note of the instructions below, applications that do not meet these criteria will not be accepted:

  1. Only PDF file types will be accepted unless other file types (such as image, Excel, or CAD) are specifically called for as part of the application submittal process.
  2. .ZIP files are not allowed.
  3. Only one file should be associated with each discrete document included with the application package. For example, if an application requires 1) an application form, 2) a set of plans, and 3) a calculation report, the applicant should transmit these as three separate files.
  4. City of Raleigh limits email attachments to 30 MB. To send larger files, you may send a file-sharing link (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) to a folder with all required documents. Staff must be given direct access to your files and cannot accept links that require access codes, passwords, or logins.
  5. All PDF sheets must be the same size.

Project Review and Permitting

Initial review is five business and additional reviews are three business days. Turnaround times are measured in business days and do not include the time associated with the initial submittal or preparation of permit issuance.

Paying Fees

The Pony Express fee is in addition to all standard permit fees and will be collected one time at the end of the process.

The Development Fee Guide provides a detailed list of specific development fees.

  • It is recommended that fees be paid via the Permit Portal.
  • All major credit cards and eCheck payments are accepted.
  • If you have questions, please contact the Customer Service Center.

A  fee calculator may be used to obtain an estimate of some building and trade permit fees.



Phone: 919-996-2500


Lead Department:
Planning and Development
Service Categories:
Permits - Commercial