There are nearly 20,000 incorporated cities, towns, and villages in the United States (yes, we still have villages). Most of these areas have laws, regulations, and statutes that dictate where, when, and how to place a moving container.
So are you allowed to put moving containers on the street?
The quick answer, in most cases, is yes.
However, determining whether you need a permit, where to get one, and which restrictions apply can be tricky—and most container companies leave finding that information up to you.
Thankfully, it’s typically not particularly difficult.
Before continuing, it’s worth noting that when it comes to moving, there’s no better way to protect your family and your bank account than by working with experienced, vetted service providers. Here are a few resources to help you get started on a successful move:
- Best interstate movers – The moving industry is full of shady players. With so much at stake, hiring a top-rated company with verified customer reviews for your long-distance move is imperative.
- Moving cost calculator – Just enter your move dates, your origin and destination, and the estimated size of your move, and our algorithms will do the rest.
- Best moving container companies – It’s simple. You load and unload, they drive, and you save big bucks.
An overview of moving container permits
Portable storage containers are convenient for moving and for temporary storage, but you’ll need to check with local authorities before getting one.
When required, municipal governments will issue short-term container parking permits for moving and storage containers. These permits allow containers to be placed in a particular parking space (or multiple spaces, if necessary) for a specified period.
They’re generally referred to as “parking permits,” but can also be called:
- Right-of-way (ROW) permits
- Street occupancy permits
- Oversized vehicle permits
- Street use permits
As a rule of thumb, most cities and towns require you to have a permit if you plan to place a moving container or storage unit on a public street.
You may still need a permit even if your container will be placed on private property. In some places, even roll-off dumpsters need a permit. So if you’re a property owner, it’s still best to run everything by your local authorities to be on the safe side.
Don’t feel like dealing with parking permits? Consider hiring one of the best interstate movers.Sometimes their rates are comparable to container companies and they do all of the work for you, making for a stress-free move.
Insider’s tip: Moving containers are great, but in some cases, hiring one of the best interstate movers can be just as affordable.Learn More
Determining whether you need a container parking permit
Permits provide written authorization to utilize a specific parking spot for a vehicle or container. Having the right permit for your container also greatly reduces the likelihood of getting fined and ticketed on moving day.
Needless to say, they’re crucial if you want to avoid any hiccups with your move.
Until proven otherwise, it’s wise to proceed as if you will need a permit for your moving container.
It’s important to note here that as the permittee, obtaining the required permit will be your responsibility, not the responsibility of the container company.
Even though your container company won’t grant you the required permit themselves, they should be able to tell you where to get it. If they can’t or won’t help, it might be a sign (or a red flag) that they’re inexperienced.
Either way, if you need to track down a permit application on your own, start with these departments within your area:
- Police department
- Department of Public Works
- Department of Public Safety
- Department of Transportation
Even if these departments don’t issue permits, they’ll be able to direct you to one who does and provide you with the appropriate contact information.
City councils usually dictate whether you’re able to park a moving pod on the street. If you live in a condo or an apartment with a parking lot, you’ll need to contact your building manager to get container parking permission.
Keep in mind that homeowner associations (HOAs) may also require you to obtain a container parking permit before parking your storage pod.
Insider’s tip: Keep the phone numbers of the container company and the authority who gave you the permit handy on your drop-off and pick-up days in case any permit issues arise.
Moving is all about planning, carefully considering your options, and taking advantage of free resources like our moving cost calculator.
Time limits for container permits
To avoid any tickets or fines, you’ll also need to find out how long you’re allowed to leave your container in the public right-of-way. Permits are typically good for one business day between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but you’ll need to verify the exact time constraints with your local authorities.
Moving usually requires this kind of short-term permit, but depending on the city or town, some permits can be valid for as long as 30 or even 90 days.
Also, keep in mind that weekends and holidays may be restricted and/or require special permits.
It’s usually possible to load or unload your household goods in one day, but many container companies include two or three free days at both your old and new residences to complete these tasks.
If there’s any chance you’ll need this additional time, make sure to get a multi-day permit or multiple single-day permits.
Remember, you’ll be required to provide the container company with a copy of the permit(s). Make sure they know:
- Where to place the unit
- When the permit expires
- What date and time to move the container
Things to keep in mind
- Permits are generally only available for designated parking spaces and curbside areas where vehicles can be parked, though exceptions may be made in some cases.
- You may also need a parking permit for a moving truck if you choose to use one. In that case, your municipality will typically issue you “no parking” signs you can use to reserve your parking space.
- Having a moving container delivered without first obtaining the proper permit can result in extra headaches, hefty fines, and additional moving costs.
- If you plan to use your container as a semi-permanent or permanent residence or office, you may need a building permit. You’ll probably need an official inspection to verify the unit is in compliance with building, zoning, and health codes.
Don’t forget to lock up your container, especially if you’re leaving it on a public street! If your moving pod doesn’t come with its own padlock, investing in one can help keep your items safe.
A Real-Life Permitting Example: How Seattle handles container permits
In Seattle, Washington (population 700,000+), customers placing portable moving and storage containers in the public right-of-way must get a Street Use Permit before their unit is delivered.
In addition, you might need different permits for residential (private use) containers and those placed by commercial construction, remodeling, and landscaping companies.
Moving trucks don’t generally need permits unless they are parked in otherwise restricted areas, in which case a temporary no-parking zone may need to be established via a Hooded Meter Truck Permit.
Seattle’s Department of Transportation website does a great job of clarifying and simplifying the permitting process.
In fact, it’s broken down into the following easy steps, most of which can be taken care of online –
- Determine if you can place your container outside the right-of-way
- If not, review guidelines pertaining to where it can be placed
- Prepare a Right-of-Way Impact Plan that shows the approximate area your container will occupy
- Apply for your permit
- Pay for and print your permit
- Reserve your parking area
- Start your move
Understanding container parking rules in your area
These days many municipal governments — like the one in Seattle — offer permitting and other similar services online. Do a quick internet search to find the correct website for your area. Read through the list of moving container parking rules and follow any instructions followed by the authorities. Most of these municipal sites have contact information including phone numbers and emails so you can find out more about the regulations in your area. That way, you’re ready for everything including parking when moving day comes around.
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