Technically, it’s perfectly legal to have a security system installed without getting a home alarm permit. However, activating and operating the system to expect a police, fire or medical response is another matter. If you’re planning on any kind of remote monitoring or emergency response features, many local governments require you to have an alarm permit before they will dispatch or respond to alarms. And even without any monitoring, a loud alarm going off can result in fines if you don’t have the proper alarm permit.
A residential or commercial alarm system permit is required by many major cities and counties, mainly to address the issue of false alarms. Laws date back a decade or more, when home security systems and monitoring services were less sophisticated and homeowners were less familiar with them.
Alarm permits were introduced as a way to reduce the number of false alarms and unnecessary distractions and expenses they cause police and fire departments. Most localities have a single alarm permit, regardless of the type of alarm, while others may make a distinction between fire, police or combined fire and police alarm permits. For example, if you only have a monitored smoke detector, you may only need the fire alarm permit. If you have a complete monitored security system (including smoke detectors), you likely just need a single permit that covers everything.
Alarm permits are granted on either a one-time basis or subject to yearly renewal, depending on local laws. A waiver may be given in a few circumstances, such as if you’re over a certain age (a “senior waiver”) or if your security system is not connected to a monitoring service. Keep in mind, however, that the noise from an un-monitored home security system’s alarm may bring a police response. If it turns out to be a false alarm, you may face a larger fine if you don’t have an alarm permit.
But don’t confuse alarm permits with alarm licenses. Alarm permits, if they’re required, cover your personal or commercial use of an alarm system, while an alarm license is what we (professional alarm installers) may need to obtain from a local (typically state) agency before starting any work.
Where applicable, alarm permits are typically issued by city or county government offices rather than state or federal agencies. You’ll most often submit your alarm permit application to your local city municipality, county office, Department of Public Safety or Sheriff’s Department. Generally, the website of your local police or fire department should have information about alarm permits, including online or downloadable forms and contact info.
Below you will find links to some of the city and county websites we install in.