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The City of Portland, Oregon

Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300


1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

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The information on this page contains an overview of requirements for adding a fence to either residential or commercial property.

Getting Started

A building permit is required when building a fence taller than seven feet. The height is measured from the ground where the posts or supports enter the ground to the top of the fence, including any lattice, posts or any other material added to the top. Fences under seven feet tall do not need a building permit but may need a zoning permit.

For more information, visit the Planning and Zoning staff at the Development Services Center or call (503) 823-7526.

Your building permit will be reviewed under provisions in the Residential Specialty Code (formerly the One and Two Family Dwelling Specialty Code) based on the 2003 IRC.  More information on building codes.

Applying For My Permit

The following information must be submitted when applying for a permit to construct a fence. Since every project is unique, there may be some situations where you will be asked to provide additional information.

Site Plan (Scale site plans to most appropriate scale, e.g. 1”=10’ or 1/4”=1’

  • Property lines, with dimensions
  • Adjacent streets and any easements
  • Property address and R number
  • North arrow
  • Distance between buildings and between buildings and property lines
  • Dimensions and placement of the new fence on the lot

Structural Plans (Scale of plans to be ¼”=1’)

  • Foundation plan showing location and size of footings and posts
  • Elevation view showing fence framing including dimensions, lumber size, spacing, footing size/depth and span
  • Connections to existing construction

To submit for a permit, bring the completed building permit application and four (4) copies of site, architectural and structural plans (for the area of proposed work and areas affected by such work ) along with intake fees to the Development Services Center.

Important Things to Consider When Planning Your Project:

(1) Setbacks

Fences may be built on private property, so long as they meet certain height and setback requirements. A setback is the distance measured from your property line to a point inside the property. A setback creates a border inside your property lines. Setback requirements are different in each residential zone. A front setback is usually larger than the side and rear setbacks. For purposes of determining setback, the front is the side that borders a street. On a corner lot, the front is the shortest side of the lot that borders a street. If the street frontages are of equal length, you may choose which to call the front.

Visit the Planning and Zoning staff at the Development Services Center or call (503) 823-7526 for help with:

  • Identifying the zone where the property is located
  • Determining the setback requirements for the project
  • Identifying any requirements if the property is located in a design, greenway or overlay zone

Fences taller than eight feet must meet the requirements listed below:

Zone RF R20 R10 R7 R5 R2.5
Front Setback 20 feet 20 feet 20 feet 15 feet 10 feet 10 feet
Side/Rear Setback 10 feet 10 feet 10 feet 5 feet 5 feet 5 feet

(2) Front Yard Fences
If you are planning to build a fence in your front yard, call the Portland Bureau of Transportation/Engineering at (503) 823-7002 for help in locating property lines along a street. Property lines that divide your lot from your neighbors may be harder to find.

(3) Structural Engineering
Fences taller than six feet measured from the owner's side at grade level must be built to resist winds.

(4) Pressure Treated Materials
Any part of a wood fence that touches concrete or that is within six inches of the ground must be pressure-treated wood or wood that is naturally resistant to decay, such as cedar or redwood. Pressure treated wood installed below grade must be stamped as approved for ground contact.

Plan Review Process

After you pay intake fees, your project will be "under review". The bureaus/review groups that will check a typical fence project are:

  • Planning and Zoning Review
  • Structural Review
  • Site Development Review

Overview of the permitting process 

A checksheet is sent to the applicant when a reviewer needs additional information or a correction has to be made to the plans. When you have gathered the additional information or made the corrections, bring the plans/information to the Development Services Center. Reviewers will be notified that a checksheet response has been received and the review will continue.

More information on checksheets 

Status Reports
Status reports are available after your project has been assigned to reviewers. Status reports show all reviews and include the reviewer’s name and phone number. To obtain a status report, call (503) 823-7000 and select option four (4) to have a status report faxed to you or call (503) 823-7357 to have one mailed to you. 

Permit Issued
Most fence permits can be issued over the counter in the Development Services Center. If your application is missing information, you will be asked to come back with that information. Permit fees are due when the permit is issued. Fees may be paid by cash, check, Visa or Mastercard.


The yellow inspection card lists all the inspections you will likely need during your construction project, and what work needs to be done first.

Once your building permit is issued, erosion control measures must be installed, inspected and approved prior to beginning any further ground disturbing activities.

Applications & Handouts