What is a Moving Permit (and When Do I Need One)?

Asha Kennedy
Researcher & Writer
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Edited By Sarah Cimarusti
July 05, 2022
5 min read

If you’re moving into (or out of) a big city, you will probably run into parking issues with a big moving truck—whether you’re moving yourself or hiring professional movers. In order to make sure you and your movers don’t get towed, you’ll want to look into purchasing a moving permit in your city. Keep reading to learn all about moving permits and when you’ll need one.

So what is a moving permit?

A moving permit is an official parking permit for moving trucks. The city issues this document to allow you to temporarily park vehicles (like a moving truck) in a specific location during a certain period of time. The city will provide you with “no parking” signs that you will have to place to reserve the space where you or your movers will park your moving truck.

In most cases, a moving permit will allow you to reserve two neighboring, on-street parking spaces, which can fit an average-sized moving truck. You’ll also be allowed to reserve the space for a period of time during the day, usually between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. And remember: not even a parking permit will allow you to park in an illegal parking space!

Two cars parallel parked on a city street

Why would I need a moving permit?

Moving permits can save you time and money, especially when you need to park a moving van on a busy city street. Why? Because you might face some stressful last-minute charges, moving delays, and even parking tickets if you don’t prepare in advance. Here are a couple of scenarios where a moving permit would be helpful:

Scenario 1: You’re moving personal property out of a 10th-floor, two-bedroom apartment in Chicago to a residential home in Norfolk, Virginia (congrats!). You’ve hired professional movers, and they need to park their truck in front of your building in order to load it. But the only parking available is on the street. If you don’t have a moving permit, the movers will have to risk getting a parking ticket or worse—reschedule your move altogether. In order to reserve two parking spaces in front of the building, you’ll need a moving permit from the city.

Heads Up
Professional movers might need a shuttle truck in the city

If your move is too large to fit in an average-sized moving truck (think medium-sized U-Haul), then your professional moving company will likely need to use a smaller truck, or a shuttle (or box) truck, to shuttle your belongings from the front of your building to the larger truck (or to the company’s warehouse). This can cost a few hundred dollars more, but it’s nearly impossible to avoid in large cities.

Scenario 2: You’re moving your stuff into an 8th-floor apartment in Seattle, Washington, and you’re doing it all by yourself. You want to park your moving truck in front of your building, but there’s only street parking. You can wait for space to open up, but you’ll have to unload quickly if you want to avoid a parking ticket… and we don’t recommend that option. Instead, we suggest you reserve a moving permit in advance so you have plenty of time and space to park and move your things. (Hopefully, there’s an elevator!)

Some other moving situations where you might need a parking permit?

  • At a public storage facility with limited truck access
  • For a private driveway that intersects with a public sidewalk
  • In a suburban or residential area that’s a part of a Homeowners’ Association (HOA)

No matter your actual situation, you can generally expect to obtain a moving permit if you’re moving in or out of any place with limited parking access.

How much do moving permits cost?

There is some good news, though. With all the moving expenses of relocating in or out of the big city, moving permits are not usually the costly ones. You can purchase a moving permit from your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for anywhere between $10–$80, depending on the city. Fees also may be higher if you need more space or if you’re going to be using metered spaces.

How do I get a moving permit?

There are a couple of ways to get a moving permit:

  1. You can register and apply for a moving permit through your city’s DMV website. Tackle this step no later than five days before your move (but we suggest at least two weeks prior if possible). Once you pay the fee, you’ll receive the instructions to pick up the “no parking” signs. You may have to confirm when to place the signs, but 48 hours prior to move day is usually recommended. If you’re not sure whether you even need a moving permit, you can always check with your apartment landlord, property manager, or homeowner’s association.
  1. You can ask your moving company to take care of the moving permit for you. A quality mover will likely be able to arrange the parking permit for you, but it will also increase the overall cost of your move by a bit. On the bright side, it’ll save you time and ease the stress that can come with big-city moving because you won’t have to be the one worrying about parking issues.

No matter which way you go, it’s probably a good idea to know the parking enforcement policies and regulations for your move in advance—especially if you might have parking issues at your old home and your new one.

Which US cities require parking permits?

While it would be difficult for us to make a comprehensive list of all the cities across the US that require parking permits, we can give you some of the most popular cities:

  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Beverly Hills, CA
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Houston, TX
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Madison, WI
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Portland, OR
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Washington, DC

Again, let us remind you that these are not nearly all the cities where a moving permit may be required. So if you don’t see your city, but you know parking may be tricky at your old home (or your new one), you’ll want to confirm with the DMV as far in advance as possible to make sure your move goes smoothly.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to load and unload a moving truck?

In general, a one-bedroom home takes the average person about two to three hours to load or unload a moving truck. Each additional bedroom can also add one to two hours to your overall move time.

How do I know if I need a parking permit?

You can always check with your landlord, property manager, or homeowner’s association if you’re not sure whether or not you need a parking permit. Another good way to think about it? Consider whether or not you can easily park an average-sized moving truck (think a typical U-Haul truck) close to your front door. If not, you’ll probably need a parking permit.

How do I get a moving permit in my city?

You can get a moving permit in your city by applying online for one with the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) where the permit office will issue one for you. While the fees may vary from state to state, it won’t matter whether you’re moving from Los Angeles, California, to Baltimore, Maryland—the process is going to be very similar.

How long does it take to get a moving permit?

Once you submit your application online with the DMV, it will generally take between 7 and 14 business days to receive your permit by mail. From there, you may need to contact your DMV for “no parking” signs and additional instructions.

How much does a moving permit cost?

A moving permit application costs between $10 and $80, depending on which city you’ll be applying for.

Can you only reserve a moving permit for a moving truck?

Technically, this moving permit type is for commercial vehicles—or moving trucks. However, you can usually reserve parking permits for a regular passenger vehicle with the DMV as well. Parking restrictions and availability may be different for these types of permits, though.

What are some other reasons to get a moving permit?

If you’ve purchased a manufactured home recently and must relocate it, then you may need a mobile home moving permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Recommended resources

Now that you know all the ins and outs of moving permits, check out these other moving tips and guides to ensure you’re ready for your big move:

Asha Kennedy
Written by
Asha Kennedy
Asha Kennedy is a researcher and content writer who brings almost 5 years of experience working directly with multiple carriers as a Move Coordinator, including Mayflower, United, and Allied International. During her career, she has successfully partnered with diverse clientele to coordinate Military, International, Interstate and Corporate relocations—and uses this experience to create meaningful and educational content for future movers! Asha graduated from Hampton University with honors in English. Asha enjoys being in nature, reading books, and learning new things.