Many property owners are surprised to find they are subject to lots of restrictions on what they can do with and on their property. Most local government authorities require homeowners or other building owners to get permission from the township or municipality before taking certain actions such as putting in a pool or installing a fence.
If you’ve ever tried to make changes to your home, you know that getting any required permits is essential to avoid fines or a stop work order. That’s true not just of big remodel projects but also — in many cases — if you want to install an alarm system or home security system.
Whether you need an alarm permit or not is going to depend both on where you live and on the type of security system you hope to install. But, you absolutely must find out if a permit is required before you begin installing your system so you can comply with the law.
When do I need a permit to install a home security system?
There are a couple of different circumstances where you might need a permit for a home security system:
- You may need a permit if you’re doing electrical work to install your system.
- Emergency services departments — such as the police or sheriff’s department and the fire department — may require an alarm permit in order for emergency services to respond to alarms on your premises.
If you opt for a self-monitored alarm system, which simply sends you an alert rather than alerting emergency services to problems, you may not need the second type of alarm permit. But, if installing your system requires you to do any electrical work, you’ll likely need the first type even if you’re DIYing the job. This is one reason many DIY home security systems work on WiFi rather than requiring hard wiring — if you’re just installing a WiFi system, you don’t have to run electrical wires.
Third-party monitoring systems, on the other hand, send a signal to the security company providing the monitoring service. The security company then tries to contact you and, unless it can verify a false alarm, will notify emergency services personnel such as police, the fire department or first responders. If you have a third-party monitoring service — whether you installed it yourself or had a security company install it — chances are good you’ll need an alarm permit so that emergency services can respond when an issue arises.
Learn more about monitored vs unmonitored systems
In many locations, you will actually need more than one permit. You may need a separate permit for police and for fire departments, for example. And, these specialized alarm permits would all be different than any permit required for the electrical work necessary to install your system.
Do the alarm permit rules differ by location?
Different municipalities set their own rules for when permits are required, so the rules may differ not only by state but also from one county to the next. This means if you move to a neighboring town, you may need an alarm permit even if you didn’t need one in your previous home.
How can you find out if you need an alarm permit?
Since the rules are set locally, you can’t just search the Internet for “do you need a permit for an alarm security system,” and expect to get the right answer to your question. You’ll need to check the laws in your area.
One way to find out if you need a permit for an alarm is to call your local emergency services departments. You should look up the non-emergency number for the police and fire station and give them a call to ask about permit rules. You can also find details on your local permit laws on the website for your township or municipality.
Does an alarm permit expire?
Alarm permits do expire in some locales. If your permit expires, you’ll be required to renew it before the deadline — which can mean paying an additional fee. After renewing your permit, make sure to notify your security company if you have a system that uses third-party monitoring.
What if you don’t have a required alarm permit?
If you do not have an alarm permit, emergency services may not respond to your property when notified of a problem by your security company. Or, you may be subject to a fine if your unpermitted security system is discovered.
If you failed to get a permit for electrical work, you may need to remove unauthorized wiring if it is not up to code in your area. You’ll also usually be assessed a fine for doing work without a permit.
What is the difference between an alarm permit and an alarm license?
A permit gives you permission to install or operate an alarm in your own home. A license, on the other hand, is required for professional alarm companies that install security systems in other people’s homes.
You won’t need to have an alarm license to DIY the installation of a simple security system in your own home, but you will likely need a permit if you’re doing electrical work as part of the install or if the system you install comes with third-party monitoring services and emergency services require permits as a result.
Check before installing a security system
If you’re required to have an alarm permit, make sure to get one before beginning work on your security system or before your security system is up-and-running. The last thing you need is to have first responders not come to your home if your security company calls them — or to face fines just for trying to protect your home and family.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.