The strength and durability of shipping containers make them viable options for buildings. Their cost-efficiency, low heating costs, flexibility, sustainable construction, and more make them excellent choices amongst those looking for a smart solution for their construction-related needs.

If you are planning to utilize your shipping container for your building-related needs, you might need to learn some essentials about planning permission. Planning permission refers to the approval needed for construction. Failure to obtain a permit for your building can result in fines, penalties, or demolition of the unauthorized building. 

You might wonder if shipping containers need planning permission as traditional buildings do. The answer is much more complicated than a simple yes or no. In this blog post, we will try to take a deeper look into this matter.

When Would You Need Planning Permission?

Shipping containers are generally classified as temporary structures; therefore, they are not intended for full use like traditional properties. However, they can be used as permanent building units thanks to their strong and durable nature. 

How long you will be using your shipping container in a specific place determines whether you need planning permission or not. Simply put, using a shipping container as a permanent residence could change its temporary status, requiring you to get planning permission for it. 

Do Shipping Containers Need Planning Permission?

Here are some cases determinative in the requirement for planning permission: 

  • Generally speaking, if your structure requires a foundation, you may need planning permission. Unless, of course, it’s a temporary placement.
  • If your container project takes place within a conservation area or an area of outstanding natural beauty, planning authorization is necessary for new constructions, additions, and other activities.
  • Many container businesses rarely require planning permissions because they are often classified as “temporary constructions” and can easily be relocated since they are not fixed to the ground.
  • The scale of your project is also essential regarding the issue. A storage container placed on an industrial yard or farm should be fine. However, a yard full of containers with the intent of starting a self-storage business may require planning permission.

The specifics of the business and its location may result in you requiring planning permission if you are running a shipping container restaurant or café. It is always wise to check with your local planning authorities for the correct answer before placing a shipping container.

Ultimately, the conditions and regulations change in each region, so it’s always important to check with your local planning office.

How Much Does It Cost?

The costs differ depending on some variables, like where you are, how long you will be occupying the area, etc. 

Getting planning permission can be costly in some cases. For instance, applying for full planning permission is probably the most expensive scenario. On the other hand, the applications for extensions are generally much less costly. 


Planning permission for shipping containers is a tricky subject because there are many variables that determine the requirements. This is why the wisest option is to contact local authorities to learn every detail regarding the matter. 

In today’s post, we have tried to explain in which cases shipping containers require planning permission. 

If you are interested in learning more about shipping containers in general, read our other blog posts, such as; 

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