Building a Fence in Saint Paul

What is required?

  • A completed Fence Plan Review/Permit Application Form
  • A survey or Basic Site Plan showing the proposed location of your fence
  • Fee ($41 for the first 200 lineal feet or fraction thereof and $13 for each additional 100 lineal feet or fraction thereof)
  • A variance to height or corner condition may be requested. See information under “What are the height limitations?”

Once your application has been submitted a Plan Examiner will review your plan for compliance with location and height requirements. Upon approval, you may install your fence. A fence inspection is not required, except in these cases: fences greater than seven feet tall, swimming pool fences, or barbed wire fences.

What forms will I need?

Click on the following links for each form:

Fence Plan Review/Permit Application Form Basic Site PlanFence Variance Application Form

How do I submit a Plan Review / Permit application?

Email: DSI-BuildingPlanReview@ci.stpaul.mn.us

Applications accepted via email include General Building Permit, Fence Permit/Plan Review, and Demolition Permits. (NOTE: When submitting permit applications and plans via email, please be sure all attachments are pdf file format only. Please, convert PNG, JPEG, etc. files to pdf before submitting your application.)

Do not include credit card information on any applications submitted by email

Fax

651-266-9124

Mail

Department of Safety and Inspections,  375 Jackson St, Suite 220,  Saint Paul, MN 55101-1806

In-person drop off

Applications and plans may be dropped off at our office. They will be processed in the order received and will not be processed the same day.

Where can the fence be located?

The City of Saint Paul encourages you to discuss your fence with your neighbors before installation to help avoid a costly property line dispute.  Your fence and all supporting structures must be located entirely inside your property line. The fence cannot be on the property line, on a neighbor’s property or on public property (boulevard, right of way, sidewalk area, etc.). It is your responsibility to know where your property line is, so make sure you have the property markers located before you install your fence. You may wish to hire a professional surveyor to identify your property lines, although it is not required for fences less than seven feet tall. The City of Saint Paul cannot locate your property markers and does not settle private property line disputes among property owners.

What are the height limitations?

Front Yard

Fences in the front yard shall be no more than four feet tall.

Side and Rear Yard

Fences in the side or rear yards shall be no more than seven feet tall.

Corner lots

On a corner lot at two intersecting streets, fences shall be no more than two feet tall in the triangular area of the lot, 10 feet from the corner, unless the fence is more than 80% open (chain link). See figure.

A variance may be granted for fences that exceed height requirements. A nonrefundable variance application fee of $78 is required for each variance request. To apply for a fence variance, submit a completed Fence Variance Application Form along with a Fence Permit Application Form and in most cases, a Fence Variance will be approved/denied within 1-2 business days.

Fence Plan

Swimming Pool Fences

All swimming pool fences are subject to a Fence Plan Review (see requirements above) and must be inspected by a city Building Inspector.

Swimming pool fences must:

  • Be enclosed by an obscuring fence four feet tall on residential properties, or by a five-foot fence on properties containing three or more residential units or commercial structures.  
  • Gates must be self-closing and self-latching, with the latch on the inside of the gate, not readily available for children to open.
  • Gates shall be capable of being securely locked when the pool is not in use.
  • Commercial and multi-family residential swimming pools require approval from the Minnesota Department of Health (651) 201-4500.

Barbed Wire Fences

All barbed wire fences are subject to a Fence Plan Review (see requirements above) and must be inspected.

No barbed wire fence shall be constructed within the city limits of the City of Saint Paul, except for police and correction facilities, unless the following conditions are complied with:

  1. No fence which uses barbed wire may be built in or abut a residentially zoned district or built on or abut a lot occupied residentially.
  2. Barbed wire, not exceeding 3 strands, may be permitted on the top of a fence; providing that the arms do not project over public property. The minimum height to the bottom strand of the barbed wire shall not be less than 6 feet from finished grade.
  3. In all cases where a barbed wire fence is requested, an application shall be made to the building official.
  4. A certificate of insurance indemnifying the City of Saint Paul shall be submitted with the application subject to the approval of the city attorney as to form and in an amount as set forth in Minnesota Statutes, Section 466.04.

Fences in Historic Districts

All fences in historic districts are subject to a Fence Plan Review (see requirements above). 

All fences in historic districts are also subject to a Design Review by the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) staff.

NOTE:  You may apply for the Fence Plan Review and the HPC Design Review simultaneously, but HPC approval is required before the Fence Plan Review can be approved.

Call Before You Dig

Before you start your fence project, visit www.gopherstateonecall.org. Minnesota state law requires that you contact Gopher State One Call before you start any project that requires digging to avoid costly underground utility damages or even deadly accidents.

Gopher State One Call

Last Edited: February 28, 2022