So the quick answer is “yes,” in most cases, you can put moving containers on the street.
However, determining whether you need a permit, where to get one, and what restrictions apply can be tricky, and most container companies leave it up to you.
Thankfully, it’s not particularly difficult.
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Moving container permit overview
Municipal governments will issue permits for moving and storage containers (and moving vans) when required.
These permits allow containers to be placed in a particular parking space (or spaces) for a specified period.
Though they’re generally referred to as “parking permits,” officially you may call them –
- Right-of-Way (ROW) Permits
- Street Occupancy Permits
- Oversized Vehicle Permits
- Street Use Permits
As a rule of thumb, in most cities and towns you’ll need a permit if you plan on using a container for moving or storage that you place on a public street.
However, the rules will be different if it will be placed on private property.
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Determining whether you need a permit
Permits provide written authorization to utilize a specific parking area for a vehicle or container.
Having the right permit for your container also greatly reduces the likelihood of getting fined and ticked on moving day.
Needless to say, they’re imperative if you want your move to go smoothly.
Until proven otherwise, it’s wise to proceed, assuming that you will need a permit for your moving container.
But though your container company probably won’t get the required permit for you, they should be able to tell you where to get it yourself.
After all, moving containers are their business, not yours.
If they can’t or won’t help, it might be a sign (red flag) that they’re inexperienced.
Either way, if you need to track down a permit on your own, start with your town or city –
- Police Department
- The Department of Public Works
- Department of Public Safety
- The Department of Transportation
Even if these departments don’t issue permits, they’ll be able to tell you which one does and give you the appropriate contact information.
Did you know?
Moving is all about planning, carefully considering your options, and taking advantage of free resources like our moving cost calculator.
Time limits apply with container permits.
Unless otherwise specified, permits are typically good for one business day between 8 AM and 5 PM.
On most household goods moves, containers can be loaded and unloaded in a day, but many companies include 2 or 3 free days at both your old and new residences.
If you 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.
Make sure they know –
- Where to place the unit
- When the permit expires
- What date and time to move the container
Also, keep in mind that weekends and holidays may be restricted and/or require special permits.
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
These days many municipal governments offer permitting and other similar services online, so a quick internet search will probably direct you to the correct website.
Frequently asked questions
What if there aren’t any parking spaces in front of my home or apartment?
Permits are generally only available for actual parking spaces and curbside areas where vehicles can be parked, though exceptions may be made in some cases.
Will container companies help you secure permits?
No, in most cases getting the required permit will be your responsibility.
How long can you keep a moving container on the street?
Container permits specify the amount of time the unit can be placed in a designated location, but they’re usually issued for one business day.
What are the consequences of keeping a moving container on the street without a permit?
Having a moving container delivered without the proper permit can result in extra headaches, hefty fines, and additional moving costs.
Do you need a building permit for a storage container?
If you plan on using 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 that the unit is in compliance with building, zoning, and health codes. When you’re just using a container for storage, however, you shouldn’t need a building permit, though it’s worth looking into.
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