Do You Need A Permit To Paint A Mural? (Find Out Now!)

Jessica Allen
by Jessica Allen

A mural is an excellent way to capture people’s attention and communicate a message to the public. You’ll often see murals on the side of buildings throughout a city or inside people’s homes. But what kind of permission and permit do you need to paint a mural, if any?

Whether you need a permit depends on the mural’s location and purpose, but murals in your home don’t require permits. Public murals do require a permit, and you must also present your plans to the city council for approval. You’ll need to submit an application detailing your plans for the mural and its eventual removal.

Read on to learn more about what a mural is and if you need a permit to paint one. We’ll also discuss what needs to be included in your mural application. Finally, we’ll cover what can happen when you paint a mural without permission.

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What Is A Mural?

A mural is any kind of artwork painted directly onto a wall, ceiling, or another surface. There are multiple kinds of murals that have different functions and purposes.

You’ll often see murals on the street for various festivals and other celebrations. Many cities also have numerous murals showcasing the area’s history and culture.

Another place you might see a mural is inside a person’s house. Some homeowners hire a professional artist to help them execute their vision. When done well, murals can increase your home’s property value.

Museums, galleries, recreational centers, and private parks are also frequent locations for murals. They can be a paid attraction, or they may simply function as decoration.

Is A Permit Necessary To Paint A Mural?

Whether you need a permit to paint a mural or not depends on its location and purpose. If you are planning for a mural in your own home, you’re not likely to need one. Most public murals do require permits, however.

Public Murals And City Council

For most public murals, it’s also necessary for you to present to the city council in addition to getting a permit. The council will then decide whether or not they want to approve it.

Some cities require individual neighborhood boards to give their approval as well. You may even need to ask local politicians to write you recommendation letters.

You might also run into various rules regarding the mural’s size and other specifications. Your city council should be able to fill you in on any local provisions and laws.


Some states only allow murals that serve as advertisements, which will usually require planning permits. However, some advertising murals are exempt from this rule. This usually applies to advertisements for governmental announcements and advertisements that communicate identification or warnings.

Private Property

If you’re planning to paint a mural on private property, the first thing you’ll need is a permit from the property owner. Some states prohibit murals in residential areas. But if you’re painting a mural on behalf of the city, you may not need planning permission at all.

The Process Of Getting Permission For A Public Mural

Applying for a permit for your mural can be a process. The first step is writing up your application, which should contain the following information:

  • A plan including the building’s dimensions and the mural’s intended location
  • A colored drawing of the mural you plan to paint
  • Permission from the property owner to paint the mural
  • A timeframe of the lifespan of the mural
  • A removal method for the mural
  • A signed agreement from the artist saying the painting process won’t cause damage or otherwise harm the surface where it’s painted
  • A signed agreement to remove the mural if it’s poorly maintained or reaches the end of its intended lifespan

Be sure to look into the application requirements for your particular area. They can vary from state to state and city to city.

What Happens If You Paint A Mural Without A Permit?

Although this can vary depending on location, a mural painted without a permit is generally considered illegal artwork. It’s always recommended to go through the correct channels to get a permit and approval from the city council. You need to get permission from the property owner to paint on their building as well.

When you have a permit and have gone through the application process, you can relax and take your time painting. But when you don’t have the necessary permission, you’ll likely have to rush through your masterpiece to avoid getting caught. Since this is illegal, we don’t recommend it; it’s always best to get permission before painting.

The city will most likely paint over or remove any murals painted without permission. It’s uncommon for a city to allow an illegal mural to stay up. The property owner may also take action to remove the mural since they didn’t give their permission to paint it.

Consequences Of Painting A Mural Without Permission

If you get caught, you may have to pay a fine or even spend some time in county jail. A mural without a permit is usually classified as graffiti, which is charged as a misdemeanor. Depending on the amount of property damage caused by the mural, the fine may range from $1000 to $10000.

Suppose you cause less than $400 worth of property damage to the building where the mural is located. In this case, your fine will likely be around $1000. But with more than $400 worth of damage, that fine can go up to $10000. You can even spend one to three years in county jail for painting a mural without a permit and approval from the city council.

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Related Questions

Is a mural graffiti?

A mural is generally not considered graffiti. Graffiti is a type of vandalism, and it’s done illegally. Meanwhile, murals are large paintings done on walls that are done legally with permission. However, illegal murals are usually classified as graffiti and can be punishable with fines and jail time.

Why do we paint murals?

We usually paint public murals to make a statement regarding culture or politics. Murals can provide various benefits for communities. For example, they can draw more tourism, tell a community’s story, and increase appreciation for local artists.

Are murals public domain?

Although murals are painted in public places, that doesn’t make them public domain. Many people mistakenly believe that murals are considered public domain. In reality, the artist who created the mural has the copyright and must be credited.

Jessica Allen
Jessica Allen

With a lifelong passion for writing plus strong enthusiasm for home improvement and DIY projects, joining the team at Upgraded Home was an easy choice. Jessica Allen likes to share helpful information with current and aspiring homeowners. Aside from writing, Jessica loves doing yoga, playing the piano, and dabbling in graphic design.

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