Sign Permits

Buying a Sign for Your Business? Before You Start, Know the Local Sign Codes and Regulations

One of the first things to do before opening up a business is to get a sign. Without a sign, you won’t exist in the eyes of the consumer. Signs also have a significant impact on your revenue stream. So where do you start? One of the first things you’ll need to do is find out what your local sign codes and regulations are and obtain the sign permit.


Before you have your sign manufactured, it is recommended you check with your city or county on what their sign codes and regulations are. Most reputable sign companies have people on hand who can help you through this process or handle it for you. Why is this necessary?  You may find that the design you’ve come up with isn’t allowed in your area. And, if you’re moving into a shopping center, the developer may have additional regulations governing signage that’s allowed. Landlords may also impose their restrictions; these are likely to be the most stringent inside a mall.


A sign ordinance can help a municipality reduce the visual clutter of signage. They are often used to help protect, establish, and enhance a community’s identity.

A municipality may adopt a sign ordinance as part of the zoning ordinance or a stand-alone ordinance. They can regulate the type, size, and location, and safety of the signs installed, and the process for erecting new signs. 

Because every municipality operates differently, you’ll want to get approval, and a permit for the type of sign or signs you’re planning for, especially if you are a multi-location national brand.


There are varying factors that could affect the type of signage you want for your business. This is regulated by each municipality and include, but are not limited to things such as –

  • Design
  • Type (freestanding, on-premise, multi-tenant, wall sign, etc.)
  • Location
  • Construction
  • Illumination/brightness
  • Installation
  • Safety
  • Maintenance


The short answer is YES. Most signs require permits. Typically, zoning laws will determine specifications for signage. Depending on your location, you may be able to handle the entire application process online. 

Be prepared to have on hand:

  • Zoning certification
  • Consent from landlord or property owner
  • Sketches or design of the sign 
  • Business licenses and permits
  • Location of where the sign(s) will be installed

If going through this process isn’t your cup of tea, this is where your sign company can help. They can not only speed up the process but can also help ensure that your signs follow regulations that are specific to your area. And when it comes to the installation of your sign, be sure to follow the guidelines. In most cities, you need a licensed contractor to install it (Uncle Frank just won’t cut it).


The permit fee will vary depending on the cost estimate of your sign(s) and could range anywhere from $50 to $300 or more. While some signs can be approved within a day or two, other signs might require engineering review.

If you decide to go it on your own, without the assistance of your sign company, go to your state’s government website and start from there.