How to Find Out If an Address Is Within the City Limits

by Christopher Raines, Demand Media

    A mailing address that includes the name of a city does not necessarily mean that your residence actually lies within the city limits. Your home might be miles beyond the boundary of a city and still be identified with it, and you might be disappointed to learn that you do not have access to services available to city residents. Perhaps more importantly, you may need to know whether a home will incur city taxes and fall under city planning and zoning rules before you buy it. A look around the immediate area in question can indicate whether you live inside the city limits, and if you still can't find a clear indication, any of a few sources of information should prove helpful.

    Step 1

    Go to your county or city's website and find the page for “Geographic Information Systems” page. Enter the street name and number into the interactive map. For most maps, your property sits within the city limits if the property information says "City Limits" or mentions a city name. The way such maps work varies, however. The interactive map of Gwinett County, Georgia, for example, uses a numerical code, with "01" indicating that the address entered lies outside city limits.

    Step 2

    Call or email the city’s departments of taxation, zoning or building inspections and ask if your address lies within the city limits. A city government collects taxes only on property in the city limits. Zoning and inspection officers typically enforce city ordinances only on property inside the city limits.

    Step 3

    Call the non-emergency number for the 911 operations center for the city and ask about the address in question. "Important phone numbers" sections of local telephone directories typically list such a non-emergency number.

    Step 4

    Call or visit the office of a public utility associated with the city and ask whether the address in question is serviced by the utility.

    Warnings

    • A mailing address does not tell you if the property lies in the city limits. The United States Postal Service assigns city names to addresses according to the post office that delivers your mail -- not whether you live within city limits.
    • You may have to follow the city's land use rules even if your property sits outside the city limits. Many cities exercise "extraterritorial" zoning authority up to a certain distance beyond the city limits. Contact your county zoning office to see if the county or a city controls your land use.

    About the Author

    Since May 2010, North Carolina lawyer Christopher Raines has been writing articles about legal topics, business, personal finance, taxes and careers. Raines holds business administration and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.