Planning & Development Services

PDS is committed to helping you with your land use and building projects. Please be aware due to staffing disruptions within our department you may experience interruptions and/or delays in the processing of your application/permit or with the response to an inquiry. We are working hard and adjusting our processes to provide the best possible service in our current situation. Please take the time to read this message from the Planning and Development Director, Mark Personius.

Service Change

Whatcom County Government is committed to caring for the health and well-being of our employees, customers and our communities and to reducing the threat of the Coronavirus or COVID-19. In response to the public health concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19,  the Whatcom County Planning & Development Services (PDS) and Public Works Engineering Services departments are temporarily closed to public “in person” services.(Our lobby/Permit Centers will be closed to the public.) However, we are still very much “open for business”. We will continue to provide services for permit processing and staff will be available to assist customers and the public via telephone, email and video conferencing options.

We encourage our customers to utilize the following online and telephone options:

How Do I?

  • Make a General Property Inquiry--complete this online form and our staff will get back to you either by phone or email.
  • Submit a Residential Building Permit Prescreen--complete this fillable form and email it along with at a minimum the following: project narrative (what do you want to do?), site plan and preliminary structural plans to
  • Get a Commercial Building Permit Prescreen--please send an email request and information
  • Contact PDS
  • Submit an application or permit--email with your application materials and our staff will review and get back to you with instructions and questions.
    • Many of our application checklists require multiple copies of documents. Due to COVID-19 and the transition to digital submissions, multiple copies of documents are NOT NEEDED. 
  • Request a Building Inspection--PLEASE NOTE: We will perform inspections on projects consistent with the Governor’s Phase 2 Construction Requirements. There are resources available to help you develop your job site safety plan through Building Industry Association of Washington and at the Associated General Contractor’s Website. Please request online or call 360-778-5902. For our inspector’s protection please see more specific requirements on the Building Services webpage.
  • Pay for my permit--To pay for your permit or application you will receive an email from staff with the permit balance due.  Once you have received this information you can pay for your permit by the following options:
    • Credit or Debit Card. Call 360-778-5900 to arrange payment. (there is a 2.35% transaction fee on credit cards, $1.00 for debit cards.)
    • Mail a check payable to Whatcom County Planning to 5280 Northwest Drive, Bellingham WA 98226. (please include your permit number on the check)
  • Get my permit issued--once your permit fees are paid, staff can email you a .pdf version of your permit and plan set. 
    • If you had previously submitted a hard copy version of your plans, the building service inspector can provide you with your "Job site copy" at your pre-construction meeting (i.e. first inspection)
    • You can also request PDS Staff snail mail you your permit and "Job Site Copy" of your plans or you can request to pick up your plan drawings at our office. Permits ready for pick up will be left outside under our covered foyer during business hours.
  1. Updated Burn Ban Restrictions Effective Immediately

    Due to increasingly dry weather conditions, and anticipated increase of Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fire danger to HIGH, the Deputy Fire Marshal, Curtis Metz, has ordered restrictions on all open burning. Read on...
  2. Shoreline Management Program Periodic Update Draft Amendment Available for Public Review

    The draft amendments to Whatcom County’s Shoreline Management Program are being issued for public review prior to review by the Planning Commission, County Council, and Department of Ecology. Read on...
  3. Burn Ban Restrictions Effective 8:00am, Monday, July 27, 2020

    Due to the warm weather conditions ahead and decreasing fuel moisture levels, the Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office will be enacting restrictions on open burning in unincorporated Whatcom County starting at 8:00 am on Monday, July 27, 2020. Read on...
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Planning and Development Services Mission Statement

The mission of Planning and Development Services is to ensure growth and development occurs in a manner that protects public health, safety and welfare, preserves the natural environment and ensures the quality of life enjoyed by citizens and visitors in Whatcom County is maintained and enhanced.