Permits for Shipping Containers: Identifying if One Is Needed

permits for shipping containers

What makes a shipping container so popular? You may have noticed that more and more people are using them for many different things. Construction companies love their strength and security for job sites.


Homeowners use them for sheds and extra storage. The one thing many people don’t think about is permits for shipping containers.

Many cities have permit requirements for shipping containers, and you want to find out what they are before renting or buying one. Read on to find out about the benefits of shipping containers and the factors behind getting a permit.

The Shipping Container Explosion

Shipping containers have exploded in use because so many businesses and homeowners are discovering creative ways to use them. People are using them for commercial and home storage, as well as building houses out of them.

Why Shipping Containers Are So Popular

The strength and sustainable aspect of shipping containers have made them popular for businesses and homeowners. The containers are constructed from corrugated steel and were developed in the 1950s to streamline storage needs.

Used Cargo-containers For Rent

The design allows them to handle being taken across the ocean because salt water is harsh on any metal. The steel in shipping containers stands up the best against saltwater.

Companies use them for storage, and homeowners even use them for tiny homes! The most popular usage of shipping containers is for storage.

The ability to put secure storage on any job site has made storage containers explode in the construction industry. The strength and security help to protect important equipment at many job sites.

The Different Names

You have probably seen the different names out there for shipping containers: storage containers, conex containers, and steel shipping containers. You don’t have to worry about the names, they are all pretty much the same.

The main difference in the containers is if they are new or used. You will want to check out a used container to see what kind of shape it is in. If they are new, you won’t have to worry about leaks or corrosion.

How Are They Built?

The majority of containers are built out of a type of steel often called corten steel. This is weathering steel that has built-in corrosion resistance. The resistance makes it perfect for outdoor use.

Weathering steel forms a protective oxide film on the outside surface after just a few months. This outside film protects the steel from further corrosion and gives it a longer life.

Their strength is one of the main reasons people are discovering so many uses for shipping containers.


Shipping Container vs Storage Container

When you see the terms shipping container and storage container, the main difference comes down to size and use. Shipping containers are weathered steel containers that come in standard sizes.

The most often standard sizes are 20 and 40 feet long and are from the maritime industry. Storage containers are often the same weathered steel containers that often come in different sizes.

This makes them useful for other situations besides the maritime shipping industry. The main thing you are looking for is a weathered steel unit that is airtight for your storage.

There are many size options you can get, and you can even customize your unit with air conditioning for cold storage options.

Permits for Shipping Containers

If you plan to use a container for storage, you will want to look into the reality of getting a steel shipping container permit. Some cities and residential areas will require permits for metal storage containers based on their usage.

Your Time Frame

One of the most important aspects of needing conex box permits will come down to your time frame. If you are using the box for a short time, you often won’t have to get a permit.

Some cities will issue a temporary use permit for short-term usage. These are easy to get and act as a simple short-term metal storage container permit. Don’t assume this, but check with the local ordinances about their permits.

If you are planning to use a conex box for permanent storage, you will often find the permit process much longer and more complicated. Your location may play the biggest part in your ability to get a permit for conex box storage.

If you are out of the city in a rural and low-traffic area, you can get a permit much more easily. Living in a high-traffic area or in a residential area could pose more complications.

Most people will not want to look at the outside of a steel box all the time in their neighborhood. You will want to check the zoning requirements and any HOA rules before applying for a permit.

The temporary nature of the job would make it easier for a construction company to use a steel box in an HOA restricted neighborhood. You will want to make sure this is true in your area because every area is different.

The Containers’ Use

Permits for shipping containers will ask you how you plan to use the storage unit. This will also make a difference in whether your permit finds approval.

If you are planning on storing construction equipment or hazardous chemicals, you want to put this in your form. You don’t want to say one thing and use it for another, or you could have big problems.

If the city decides to come to inspect, they could shut your whole operation down. You want to make sure your permit lines up with what you said you were using the container for.

The Location and Condition of the Container

The location of where you are putting a container could make a big difference in getting a permit or not. If you are using a container in a place where most people won’t see it, that could benefit your approval.

conex boxes for storage

If you plan to put the container in the front of the property or in a very public place, it might be harder to get a permit. Unless you are using it for short-term jobs, most cities won’t approve a visible location within city limits.

Some cities will want to come and inspect the container themselves. They may want to see what kind of shape it is in and if it contained any harsh chemicals. This is more focused on permanent storage rather than short-term rentals.

Should I Rent or Buy a Container?

Another thing to consider along with your permit is if you should rent or buy a container. Your needs and how you plan to use the container will be your main considerations, but there are a few other things you want to think through.

Size and Feature

The size of your container will be the biggest factor in the price and whether you rent or buy. The larger the container, the more it will cost. You also want to consider the size limits of any permits you will get.

Some municipalities will have limitations that you will need to be aware of before you purchase. The other major costs will come from the options and special features of your container.

Containers that have double doors or side doors will cost more. If you need a container that has cooling features, plan to pay more as well.

Site Prep and Delivery

When asking about prices for containers, make sure to ask about delivery fees. Some rental places will quote a price and then add delivery on top of it. Get the delivery and set up price included so you know the whole budget.

Your site may need some work to prepare it for a container. It ground may look level, but you may need to do some dirt work to make sure the site is actually level to support the container.

Time Frame

If you are planning on renting your container for a long period of time, you may consider buying it. If you use a container for different building sites, you may come out better in the long run if you buy one.

This will save you extended rental fees. This is especially true if you have the equipment to move the container yourself. Rental will work best if you need containers for short-term jobs with more flexibility.

The Creative Solution of Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are a very cost-effective way to increase storage for any job you have. Plus the strength and security of shipping containers can solve multiple problems.

Remember to keep in mind the reality of permits for shipping containers. No matter how you plan to use one, you want to check with your local city and neighborhood ordinances to comply with their policies.

Tuff Shipping Containers is a 100% employee-owned US-based company meeting shipping container needs since 2009. We rent and sell all types of steel shipping containers to meet your needs.

Get a quote from us today and find out how a shipping container can be the creative solution to your storage problems.


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