Vacation Rentals

A vacation rental permit is required in order to rent a single-family residence or accessory dwelling unit for periods of less than 30 days in San Juan County.  Properties located in the Eastsound Village Commercial land use designation do not require a permit but are required to comply with the vacation rental requirements.  San Juan County has required vacation rental permits since 1997.  In 2018, the County updated its regulations to require existing permit holders to annually certify compliance with their conditions of permit approval.  The first certificate of compliance is due on December 31, 2018.  

San Juan County actively enforces the vacation rental permit requirements by reviewing online advertising. Any advertisement for a vacation rental must include the San Juan County vacation rental permit number or compliance number.  The penalty for advertising or operating an unpermitted vacation rental is $2,300.  

The vacation rental requirements are found in the San Juan County Code Section 18.40.275.  

Link: https://www.codepublishing.com/WA/SanJuanCounty/#!/SanJuanCounty18/SanJuanCounty1840.html#18.40.275

QUESTIONS? Please check Frequently Asked Questions below for the answers to most questions. Use the tabs to navigate between Vacation Rental FAQs and Certificate of Compliance FAQs. If you have other questions or need assistance determining whether or not vacation rental of your property is allowed and if so, which type of permit (conditional use or provisional use) might be required, please submit an "Ask a Planner" form to the Department of Community Development that includes the subject property address and/or tax parcel number: https://sanjuanco.com/FormCenter/Community-Development-6/Ask-a-planner-58 .If you submit a vacation rental permit application, please attach the "Ask a Planner" response that you receive with your application materials.

Vacation  Rental Certificate of Compliance for Existing Permit Holders

On March 27, 2018, new vacation rental regulations for San Juan County became effective.  In addition to requirements for new vacation rentals, the regulations require both new  and existing vacation rentals to:

  • Annually certify compliance with the conditions of their permit approval;
  • Include their permit number in all advertising; 
  • Have a contact person for complaints and emergencies located on the island where the rental is located; 
  • Have rules of conduct addressing solid waste, noise, speeding, trespassing, and water conservation

Existing permit holders will have until December 31, 2018 to comply with the new requirements.

Find Your Vacation Rental Permit Number

We have updated our open source data and map showing the location of vacation rental permits. The data is current through December 11, 2018.  https://sjcgis.org/vacation-rental-permits

  1. Vacation Rental FAQ
  2. Cert of Compliance FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much does a vacation rental permit cost?

Answer: The land use and shoreline designation where the vacation rental is located determines if a vacation rental is allowed and whether it is a conditional use or a provisional use.  The fee for a conditional use permit is $2,300. The fee for a provisional use permit is $1,000. 

Q.  Are vacation rentals allowed everywhere in San Juan County?

Answer: No. Vacation rentals are not allowed in the following areas and structures: 

  • Natural shoreline designation
  • Conservancy shoreline designation
  • Agricultural Resource land use designation 
  • Forest Resource land use designation 
  • Shaw Island
  • Waldron Island
  • Owner-Builder Exempt structures
  • Structures connected to the Town of Friday Harbor water system (this is a Town requirement, not a County requirement)
  • Structures other than a single-family residence or accessory dwelling
  • Boats, tents, vehicles or unpermitted structures

Q. Can I rent out my detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)? 

Answer: Only if the ADU was constructed with a permit prior to June 29, 2007, or is located in an Urban Growth Area (UGA).  A detached ADU constructed after this date may not be a vacation rental unless it is located in a UGA.

Q. Can I have a vacation rental if I am located on a private road?

Answer: Yes. The county does not enforce private road agreements, but your homeowner's association may.

Q. How do I find the properties within 300 feet of my property? 

Answer: Use the San Juan County Polaris web mapping application. It has a measurement tool and you can use the information button to get the names and addresses of property owners on those properties: https://sjcgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=39b87792947e40a5aa0fcb8af5910bd1

Q. What do I do if my vacation rental is located in Eastsound Village Commercial and doesn't require a permit?

Answer: Submit your certificate of compliance and note in the permit number space that you would like to request a compliance number for your advertising. We will issue you a compliance number.  You must still comply with vacation rental regulations found in SJCC 18.40.275, including the requirement for on-site parking.

Q. I bought a property with a vacation rental permit. Do I need to reapply for a new permit?

Answer: In most cases, no. Vacation rental permits run with the land. In some limited cases, the permit was granted to a specific landowner. You can find this in the conditions of approval for your permit.  You will need to certify compliance with the conditions of your permit within 90 days of the transfer of title. See Certificate of Compliance FAQ on the next tab. 

Q.  Certificate of Compliance FAQs are accessed by toggling the tab to the right of this tab