Boston Moving Permits in 5 Easy Steps

Need Boston Moving Permits? Here’s how to get them

Boston Moving Permits are often necessary because traffic in the city of Boston is bad. And all indications are that it is only going to get worse. (Here’s a picture of downtown Boston from the good old days of 1949, when fewer people had cars.) As you can imagine, in 2017, parking a moving truck on one of Boston’s many winding and narrow streets can be a hassle.

Of course, it depends on the neighborhood. Moving around West Roxbury, Roslindale, or Hyde Park, where residences tend to be a little more spread out? You can often get away with parking your own car in the spot you want to reserve for your truck. (Or, you can use the city’s most confusing parking customs, and hope your neighbors respect and understand whatever this is supposed to mean.) But if your move requires a truck to go to a place like the South End, Back Bay, Charlestown, Jamaica Plain, or the North End (or pretty much any other Boston neighborhood), you won’t want to be so cavalier.

Boston's older neighborhoods have all kinds of winding and narrow streets.

Boston Moving Permits are necessary on Acorn Street, one Boston’s most celebrated and visited treasures. (The street is not known for accommodating moving trucks.) Photo by Directory of Boston from USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Double parking in most of Boston’s neighborhoods is dangerous, especially if an emergency vehicle is called while you’re upstairs unpacking a box. It can also get you a hefty ticket. And it makes driving on the streets here more difficult than it already is – and for most of Boston, it definitely already is.

It doesn’t matter if you’re loading your own truck or hiring movers – you’re going to want to make sure that whoever is carrying your precious belongings has a short walk to the back of the truck. An extra ten feet to get around your neighbor’s car may not sound like much ground to cover. But multiply that ten feet by the number of boxes and pieces of furniture you have. That’s a whole lot of unnecessary labor time and costs, wasted energy, and an increased chance of an injury or a damaged item.

So you definitely want your moving truck parked as close as possible to the door through which you’ll be carrying most of your stuff. And luckily, the city of Boston has a process to reserve a parking spot for moving day.

So here they are, just as the title promised, the 5 easy steps to follow get Boston Moving Permits:

Step 1: Get Ready for City Hall!

If your move day is more than a month away or within the next two weeks, you’ll need to make a trip to City Hall (you can simply apply online if you meet certain criteria, which we’ll explain below). Before you go, here’s what you’ll need (so you only have to make one trip):

-Meter Numbers: If you live in an area with on-street parking meters, you’ll need to find the numbers of the meters you’ll be blocking off. Remember that you’ll be blocking off two parking spaces, or forty feet of space. You can find the meter numbers on the head of the meter (where you put the coins in). The meter numbers consist of two letters and three numbers (for example: AB 123, or XY 789). If you live in a residential area (i.e., where there are no meters), don’t worry about this.

-Money: As of January 2017, the city only accepts cash or personal checks for in-person payments for Boston Moving Permits. (You can use a card if applying online.) For one spot for a single moving truck, you should expect to spend about $69 total for the permits.

-Time: You cannot wait until the last minute to get your moving permits. To reserve a spot for a truck in a residential area, you have to obtain your permits AT LEAST 3 DAYS prior to your move. For example, if you’re moving on a Sunday, you have to get the permits by the previous Thursday. If you live in a metered area, you need to obtain your permits AT LEAST 2 DAYS prior to your move. It’s also important to bring your patience — sometimes the process will only take ten minutes out of your day, while other times it could take more than a few hours. You never know what kinds of things City Hall might have to deal with while you’re waiting to get your permits. So it’s best to block out a chunk of the day.

-Exceptions: Think the rules don’t apply to you? Well, if you live in the North End, or on a state-owned road, they may not.

During the summer months, when the North End has its annual feasts, parades, and film crews, you have to contact Patricia Papa, Boston’s Special Events Liaison. You can call her at 617-828-2509 to go through the unique North End permitting process.

Boston Moving Permits don't cover the entire city - The Massachusetts Department of Recreation and Conservation is in charge of Boston's state-owned roads.

To reserve parking on state-owned roads (listed above), you need to contact the Massachusetts DCR.

Additionally, if you live on a state-owned road (parts of Boylston St., Charlesgate East and West, Park Drive, Fenway, and Riverway, and all of Jamaicaway), you’re under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Department of Recreation & Conservation, and not the City of Boston. Boston Moving Permits will not apply to your address. So you’ll need to apply directly to the DCR for your moving permit.

Step 2: Get the Permits!

There are two ways to get Boston moving permits. The easiest way, of course, is to apply online and have the permits mailed directly to you. However, you can only apply online if you meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • You’re only looking for a single-day (7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.) moving permit, for the standard size of two parking spaces or forty feet.
  • You’re planning your move for AT LEAST two weeks after the date you apply, and NO MORE than a month after the date you apply. In other words, you can apply online if your move is between fourteen and twenty-eight days away.
  • You (or someone else) will be able to post the signs AT LEAST two days (48 hours) before your move. So if your move is at 9:00 A.M. on the 17th, the signs should be up before 9:00 A.M. on the 15th.
  • You’re going to post the signs in a valid spot. Bus stops, handicapped spaces, and other “no parking” zones aren’t valid. Boston Moving Permits are invalid in those spots.
  • You’re not moving to or from the the North End anytime in June, July, or August. If that’s the case, you need to call Patricia Papa, Special Events Liaison, at 617-828-2509 to find a space that won’t interfere with any feasts, parades, or other special events.

Everything checks out? Good. You can go ahead and apply for Boston Moving Permits on the city’s website. If not, you’re going to have make a trip to City Hall. It’s located at One City Hall Square, and its operating hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Once inside City Hall, go to Room 721. That’s where you’ll find the Boston Transportation Department (BTD). There, you’ll need to fill out what’s called a Traffic Approval Form. The BTD will process the form, and then hopefully approve it. (If you’re applying far enough advance, the only reason they would deny the form is if there is a special event like a feast or a parade scheduled the same day as your move.)

Approval in hand, your next stop is Room 715, home of the Public Works Department (PWD). That’s where you’ll pick up the permit and the signs needed to post on the street. This is also where you’ll pay for everything.

The signs are $4.00 each, and then there is a $61.00 base fee for the 40-foot area needed to reserve for the truck. This total of $69.00 is all most box trucks require – the 40-foot area, and two signs to post in the area. If you are reserving a spot in front of meters, you will have to pay an additional $20.00 per meter head within the 40-foot spot. (If your move is on a Sunday, the meter fees will be waived. For evening moves, when the meters may be off, just ask the PWD.)

The PWD will also give you a helpful flyer to distribute on cars and to your neighbors in advance of the move, so they are aware of the parking situation.

Boston Moving Permits for most addresses are available at City Hall.

Boston City Hall, known for its unique design, is the place to get moving permits for the city of Boston. Photo by Bobak Ha’Eri (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Step 3: Post the Permits!

You need to post Boston Moving Permits and “No Parking” signs AT LEAST 48 HOURS (at least 24 hours in a metered area) in advance of the move, within the 40-foot reserved area. You can post them on utility poles, parking meters, trees, or even fences. If you think your two signs are not visible enough, you can make additional “no parking” signs out of cardboard. As long as your homemade signs have the date of the permit, you can post them within the reserved area for extra coverage. (And definitely make sure to use plenty of tape to securely post your signs and permits. It’s important that neither rain, wind, nor neighbors can interfere with your paid-for right to park on moving day.)

Remember the flyer you got from the PWD? You’ll need to make copies of it, and leave it on the windshields of the cars parked in your moving spot. You’ll need to post it on the doors of the buildings on either side of the street. The city wants you to post these flyers, once a day, for at least the two days preceding your move. You can post them anywhere and on any car within a 20-foot radius of your moving spot.

We recommend posting them more often and in a larger area. Remember – it is important that everyone in the neighborhood knows that that parking spot is yours and yours alone. It’s always best to have your neighbors avoid parking there on that date. You don’t want to call a tow truck and have their car removed. Just because you’re moving out is no reason to make enemies. (And definitely not if you’re moving in — first impressions are important!)

This is why we recommend posting your permits and flyers well in advance of the 48 hour cut-off — especially if you live in a residential area, where people often leave their cars in the same spot for days at a time.

Step 4: Moving Day!

If you’ve hired movers, you’ll need to check your reserved parking area a couple of hours before their scheduled arrival. If a vehicle is parked in the area, you can call the Boston Police Department’s non-emergency line at 617-343-4911. Make sure to say, “this is not an emergency,” when they pick up. Calmly explain the situation (that there’s a car parked in the space you paid for), and give them the offending car’s license plate number. The police will run the registration and try to contact the owner. This way, the owner can hopefully remove the car instead of getting towed. If the owner is unreachable, they’ll call the towing company.

Getting the police to come and finally decide to call a tow truck can take two hours or more (remember, you did say that it was not an emergency.) And if you have movers waiting, you’re still going to need to pay for their time. So plan to be up early on moving day.

Boston Moving Permits - After your truck is empty, you need to take down all signs and permits.

Once your truck is unloaded and your move is finished, it’s time to clean up your permits. By Harry Shipler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Step 5: Clean Up!

Once you or your movers have fully loaded (or unloaded) your truck, you’ll need to clean up. You’ll need to take down all the signs and the tape used to post them. You should also pick up all the flyers you posted. You must report any damage to city property to the Public Works Department. If you moved any traffic signs, cones, or any other city property, you’ll need to put it back where it was. And that’s it. That’s how Boston Moving Permits work.

Does this process sound like too much of hassle? Some Boston moving companies, like us, for example, will take care of all aspects of permit acquisition. Our fee is $75 if you need one permit, $125 if you need two, and $150 for three or more. This is in addition to the cost of the permits themselves. That fee covers acquiring the permits, posting the permits, and removing them. This fee does not cover calling the police to remove cars, or posting flyers around the neighborhood everyday. (If you want us to acquire your moving permits, we need at least one week of advance notice.)

Not satisfied with this information?

For questions about traffic approval, scheduling, parking meters, or signage, contact the Boston Transportation Department at 617-635-4675 or 617-635-4680.

For questions about fees and moving permits, contact Boston Public Works Department at 617-635-4909 or 617-635-4910.

Apply Online for Boston Moving Permits here.

Or fill out a Quote Request for Safe Responsible Movers here.