Planning & Development



In the State of Texas, the Local Government Code defines a city’s rights and responsibilities regarding properties within its boundaries and the area immediately surrounding its boundaries (called extraterritorial jurisdiction). This Code is where cities are given authority to change their boundaries either by annexation or disannexation.

Houston’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) is essentially a five-mile band around the City’s general-purpose boundaries, with the exception of instances when that band intersects another municipality or its ETJ. Within its ETJ, Houston has limited regulatory authority. Two notable examples are the imposition of Chapter 42 of the Code of Ordinances, a chapter relating to the development and subdivision of land, and the City’s authority to consent to the creation and expansion of other governmental entities such as municipal utility districts (often referred to as MUDs).

Annexation is the other key authority a city has within its ETJ. Recent sessions of the Legislature have modified and expanded the manner in which Houston may annex property. The different types include:

I. General Purpose

This type of annexation is the most commonly known. All of Houston’s historically significant annexations have occurred in this manner. For general-purpose annexation, a city must meet a strenuous public notification requirement. Upon annexation, all affected property becomes part of the general-purpose boundaries and is effectively subject to all regulations, taxes and services provided by the City. Residents within this property are residents of the City of Houston and have all the rights and responsibilities afforded thereby. Property considered for general-purpose annexation must be included in a City’s annexation plan at least three years prior to the annexation. One instance where the three-year requirement is waived is if the property owner requests annexation.

II. Limited Purpose

This type of annexation, authorized in the 1999 Legislature, may be conducted as part of a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) with a utility district. It carries less stringent public notice requirements. The annexation typically includes commercial property only. Property (ad valorem) taxes are not levied on properties included in this type of annexation, but the City may levy a sales tax on retail sales conducted in the area. Properties annexed as part of a SPA do not carry the three-year requirement.

The SPA identifies which regulations and services, if any, are imposed in the area annexed. It also identifies the amount of sales tax to be levied and how much, if any, will be shared with the district. Finally, the SPA identifies the length of the agreement and the City’s options for when and if the City might make the property subject to general-purpose annexation.

The Annexation Plan

For the years 2016–2018, the City of Houston does not propose to annex any territory for general purposes, except that it will consider the annexation of territory if requested by property owners. The City will continue to consider SPAs with utility districts for the purpose of limited purpose annexation within the City’s ETJ.

pdf 2015-2017 Annexation Map

pdf 2015 Annual Plan Description

pdf Houston Annexation History

For more information, contact Rupesh Koshy at 832.393.6552 or


For ETJ Release requests submitted under SB 2038 (.pdf), on or after September 1, 2023, please provide the following original physical copies to the City Secretary’s Office:

  • A petition for release stating the reason for the requested release of land;
  • Proof of ownership if one owner or a valid petition with the required signatures pursuant to Chapter 42, Local Government Code, Subchapters D and E.;
    • Signature(s) must be in original handwriting; electronic signatures are not acceptable.
    • Per the Election Code Section 277.002(1), a valid petition signature must contain the following: (A) the signer’s printed name, (B) the signer’s date of birth or voter registration number, (C) the signer’s residential address, and (D) the date of signing.
    • Per Section, Article IX of the City’s Charter, a petition signature must be notarized by a certified notary to demonstrate validity of the signature.
    • Accepted proof ownership documents include: deed of the property, property tax receipt or bill, will, affidavit, mortgage documentation, homeownership insurance, etc.
    • For corporate or business entities, please provide additional documentation demonstrating signature is done by an authorized signatory on behalf of the organization. Some examples are: articles of incorporation, certification of formation, partnership agreement, public information report filed with the Secretary of State, and a resolution of the business entity authorizing the petition for release to be executed and file by the stated representative.
  • A map of the area proposed for release; and
  • A copy of the survey or metes and bounds description of the area proposed for release.

Please forward scanned copies of the petition in addition to GIS shapefiles showing the area to be released to enabling the City to advise Council and the County, and to correctly update our maps.