Apply for a Portables Buildings Permit for construction site trailers, classrooms, and sales offices.

You need a Portable Buildings Permit in Surrey for the construction of temporary and permanently enclosed portable buildings (modular buildings). Portable buildings do not include fixed buildings that were not designed to be moved.

Such buildings and structures include:

  • classrooms
  • sales offices
  • show suites
  • special event shelters, etc.

A building permit may not be required for a temporary portable building (such as a construction site office trailer) if it will not be assembled or constructed on-site, and it will be located on-site for a few months only. Applicants must also obtain permission from the Bylaw Enforcement & Licensing Department for all temporary portable buildings. A temporary portable building that is assembled or constructed on-site will require a building permit.

How to apply

Complete the Building Permit Application Form and submit the required documents, plans, and fees to the City of Surrey's Building Division by email, or in-person by appointment.

Digital permit intakes

Planning & Development permits can be submitted by email to Before submitting your application, please review the Digital Submission Guideline. You will be contacted once we have reviewed your submission.

All permit application processes will remain the same, apart from receiving the physical document copies. Hard copies of permit application submissions may be necessary and requested depending on the scope of work and project size, upon completion of the digital submission.

Professionals you may need

A Registered Professional (RP) is required to provide a Schedule B to accompany any signed and sealed drawing. A Coordinating Registered Professional (CRP) is required to provide a Schedule A if there will be more than one RP.


Applicants are advised to consult with the Planning Division before applying for a Building Permit for a temporary or permanent portable building.

Shipping containers, also known as "sea-cans", are not permitted in agricultural zoned properties. They are only permitted in industrial zoned properties and must comply with the requirements of the zone as if it were a building or structure.

Applicants must also obtain permission from the Bylaw Enforcement & Licensing Department for all temporary portable buildings.

Required documents

Include the following documents with your Portable Buildings Permit application:

  • a Building Permit Application Form;
  • an Owner Authorization Form (if the Applicant is not the Property Owner);
  • a Schedule A from the Coordinating Registered Professional if there will be more than one Registered Professional;
  • a Schedule B from each Registered Professional who submits signed and sealed drawings;
  • a letter from the Property Owner stating that the temporary portable buildings will be removed within 12 months from the date of Building Permit issuance;
  • certification documents from the manufacturer of each portable building that is not assembled or constructed on site;
  • parking calculations considering the added floor area of the proposed portable buildings; and
  • calculations for the required number of washrooms based on the proposed occupant load, with an indication that the required washrooms are located in adjacent buildings if no washrooms are proposed within the portable buildings.

Required drawings

Include the following plans with your Portable Buildings Permit application:

  • four (4) sets of plans:
    • all applicable site plan(s), floor plan(s), elevation plan(s); and
    • all structural, plumbing, electrical, civil and mechanical drawings (if applicable).

Refer to the Portable Buildings bulletin for specific drawing requirements.

Depending on the scope of work, some of these drawings may not be required to be submitted or to be sealed. All submitted drawings shall include the civic address of the principal building on the property, and shall be signed and sealed by the applicable Registered Professional where required.


The Building Permit fee is due at the time of application for your Portable Buildings Permit and is based on the value of construction.

A security bond of $10,000 will also be required to ensure the removal of temporary portable buildings within 12 months from the issued date of the Building Permit.

After you apply

Fire department requirements

All portable buildings must be located within 45m (147ft) of a fire department access route. Access routes shall conform to the requirements of the BC Building Code. However, an access route constructed on a school property may be surfaced with gravel provided that it is designed to support the expected loads imposed by firefighting vehicles and equipment.

If the portable, or cluster of three (3) or more portables, has a combined area of 186 m² (2000 ft²) or more, there must be a fire hydrant within 90 m (295 ft) of the principal entrance to each portable building. Each cluster can contain a maximum of six (6) portable buildings.

In all cases, clusters of portables shall be separated from each other, as well as set back from other buildings, by at least 12 m (40 ft), and the combined area of each cluster shall not exceed 557 m² (6000 ft²).

The fire alarm system for the portable buildings shall be connected to the principal building’s fire alarm system, and be provided with manual pull stations and heat detectors. Portable fire extinguishers shall be provided in accordance with the BC Fire Code. A Fire Safety Plan and fire alarm verification report shall be submitted and approved by the Surrey Fire Department prior to final inspection and occupancy.