Building a Fence in Saint Paul

What is required?

A Fence Plan Review is required for any fence up to 7 feet tall. To apply for a Fence Plan Review you will need:

  • A completed Fence Plan Review 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 Fence Permit Application Form and inspection are required for any fence greater than 7 feet tall.  Please, follow the same directions as above but also include a completed Fence Variance Application Form and $78 nonrefundable variance application fee.  Click here for the fence inspection procedure for fences greater than 7 feet tall. (See Section 33.07 of the City of Saint Paul Code of Ordinances for nonresidential uses in residential zoning districts that allow a fence height taller than 7 feet.)

Once your application has been submitted a Plan Examiner will review your plan for compliance with location and height requirements.  Upon approval, you may proceed with the installation of your fence.  A fence inspection is not required except for fences greater than 7 feet tall, swimming pool fences, or barbed wire fences. 

How do I submit a Plan Review / Permit application?

  1. Email: 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
  2. Fax:    651-266-9124
  3. Mail:      Department of Safety and Inspections,  375 Jackson St, Suite 220,  Saint Paul, MN 55101-1806
  4. 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.

How tall a fence can I build?

Front Yard:  Fences in the front yard shall be no more than 4 feet tall.

Side and Rear Yard:  Fences in the side or rear yards shall be no more than 7 feet tall.

Corner lots:   On a corner lot at two intersecting streets, fences shall be no more than 2 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 seventy-eight dollars ($78.00) 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.


DSI.Bldg Fence Plan Color

Swimming Pool Fences

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

Swimming pool fences must:

  • Be enclosed by an obscuring fence 4 feet tall on residential properties, or by a 5 feet tall 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 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.             

Last Edited: July 16, 2021