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First steps in the permit process are to check property jurisdiction and zoning. Geographic jurisdiction determines whether the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER) or a city is the agency to contact about a property, and zoning affects how the property can be used.

Unincorporated King County is the jurisdiction of DPER.

We issue new permits only for property in unincorporated King County (areas outside the jurisdiction of local cities). For property within a city boundary (Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, etc.) in King County, you must contact the city directly for its permitting regulations rather than the Permitting Department.**

How to check property jurisdiction and zoning

Because it is not always easy to know whether property is located in unincorporated King County or is inside city limits (a few Seattle addresses actually are in unincorporated King County), jurisdiction, as well as zoning, can be determined in the following ways:

  • Online

    Jurisdiction. Go to Parcel Viewer at Search by Address or another means, then select the Districts Report. Near the top of the Districts Report, find Jurisdiction. If it reads "King County," the property is in unincorporated King County; it is under DPER's jurisdiction, and DPER is the permitting agency. If a city name is given for the jurisdiction, the property is inside that city's limits, the city has jurisdiction, and you must contact the city for building and land use permits. See example below.

    Districts report jurisdiction example

    If the jurisdiction is King County, the property is in unincorporated King County. Contact DPER about permits for the property.

    If the jurisdiction is a city name (Seattle, Auburn, etc.) the property is in that city. Contact that city about permits for the property, not DPER.

  • Zoning. Find "King County zoning" further down the Districts Report referenced above. The zoning for the property will be given as a letter and number combination, such as RA-2.5, or letters, such as NB, if the property is in unincorporated King County (zoning code abbreviations are explained at Zoning will display as "NA, check with jurisdiction" for property that is inside city limits. See example below.

    Districts report zoning example

    For property inside city limits, zoning will display as "NA, check with jurisdiction" instead of a code such as RA-2.5.

    The Districts Report as well as other reports also are accessible when using iMAP. Permitting Staff at 206-296-6600 are available to check the jurisdiction and zoning for property.

Links to local cities/other jurisdictions

If the property jurisdiction is a city, visit for links to the Web sites of local cities and towns.

**Under agreements with some cities, the Permitting Department may continue processing a permit that we started before the city was annexed or incorporated.