Do You Need Planning Permission for a Shipping Container?

Is planning permission required for a shipping container in the UK?

In the UK Shipping Containers should be classed as a temporary structure and should be exempt from any planning permission requirements. This is the same exemption used by caravans and mobile homes. The structure (whilst not having wheels) is portable,has no foundations, and is not designed to sit permanently. Hence it should be exempt from planning permission.

However, we can’t provide a blanket guarantee. There may be special conditions in place in your area such as areas of natural beauty which can involve extra conditions. One council can interpret one set or rules or guidelines differently to the next. For these reasons we advise to check with your local planning office in advance of ordering a shipping container.

A single shipping container will class very differently to a yard full of them or a house built from shipping containers. If you are setting up a commercial operation such as a self storage yard and want to use shipping containers, then our advice is that planning permission would almost certainly be required. As would be the same for any house or large structure built from shipping containers (you may also like to check out our top 10 tips if looking to set up your own self storage yard).

If you are a farmer or a small industrial unit, wanting a single container on your site to store your own gear in relevant to your day to day trade or business then in the vast majority of cases no planning will be required.

If you are planning to fit permanent electrics or plumbing into a shipping container, this may also alter the interpretation of a temporary structure, and this may mean planning permission is now required. There is a lot of ambiguity here and its not possible for us to give you a clear answer that will apply to every case.

We have helped many customers who have needed planning permission for their shipping container. Sometimes our additional services have helped with the approval of the planning permission. Here are a few options that we can offer, and a couple of DIY options that may help the planing process if built into any planing application.

Refurbished Shipping Containers, repainted in your choice of colour

We can take a fully checked and repaired used shipping container and give it an external repaint, often in a neutral dark green shade that can help it blend in with the surroundings. This a popular option in all settings (both urban and rural locations). This is a very cost effective way to ensure your shipping container is easy on the eye when compared to a basic used shipping container. As with a used container you will still get dinks and dents along the side and end walls, but the repaint offers a much cleaner and more consistent finish. Dark green is the popular shade for ‘blending in’ but we offer almost any colour.

It is also very common for us to repaint a shipping container dark green to help fit with planning requirements. Aside from meeting planning requirements its also often a great way to help the shipping container blend in better with the surrounding land and can help appease neighbours and other interested locals.

See some examples below or search this site for all refurbished shipping containers.


Cladded Shipping Containers to help with Planning Permission

One step up from the repainting option, wooden cladding offers a very smart finish, ideal for sites where the container will remain on display for large numbers of visitors to site. We can clad any of our containers in wood, from a basic storage container up to a fully kitted out office or canteen unit, or a complete office building built from a number of 40ft shipping containers.

See some examples below or search this site for all cladded shipping containers.

Hide your container to help with planning permission

This may not be an obvious option, but depending on the space and time you have available this can be one of the most cost effective ways to keep your shipping container out of sight.

Some customers have used fencing with a front gate entry to hide the shipping container in its own small compound, others with more time have planted bushes and hedgerows around the shipping container.

At this time we don’t’ have many example pictures to show you. We would like to invite any customers to send in some photos of their hidden shipping containers and we will reward you with a treat for your office as well as a permanent link to your website here and a shout out on our social media channels.

Do you need a shipping container? offer the UK’s largest online range of shipping containers for sale with a nationwide network of storage and conversion yards and crane equipped delivery vehicles.

If you need a shipping container feel free to browse our online range of shipping containers for sale. You can also call us on freephone 0808 1234 215 any time 9am – 5pm weekdays and our team will be happy to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, you can use our online shipping container quote form or request a telephone callback. In both cases we aim to get back to you within 1-2 working hours (may take longer for more detailed quotes).


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