Permits, violations & licenses

Get a building permit to install signs

Service overview

To permanently install a sign, you may need a Building Permit and a Zoning Permit. Use the table below to determine which permits you need for your sign.

Building permit Zoning permit
Exterior signs Yes, except painted signs, adhesive or vinyl graphics and letters Yes
Interior signs Yes, if they require fasteners Yes, if installed within 18 inches of a window or door that is visible to the public
Window signs Yes, if they require fasteners Yes, if they take up 20% or more of two windows or doors
Signs on historic properties Yes, for painted signs, adhesive or vinyl graphics and letters, and regular maintenance of existing signs. No

If your sign will be illuminated, you also need an Electrical Permit.

If your sign meets certain standards, you can use EZ zoning and building permit applications. EZ permits do not require plans.

Who

Any property owner or their authorized agent can apply for this permit. Authorized agents may include:

  • Design professionals.
  • Attorneys.
  • Contractors.
  • Licensed expediters.

Requirements

Permit application

The permit application must include the complete scope of work and current owner information.

Contractor

A licensed contractor must perform all work. The contractor must:

  • Have an active license.
  • Be current on all City of Philadelphia taxes.
  • Have current insurance on file with L&I.

Plans

If your application requires plans, they must follow plan requirements.

Plans are not required for installations complying with the EZ Standard for Building Sign Installation.

Forms and other documents

Required pre-approvals

Signs on historic properties

More +

Signs that project into the right-of-way beyond the limits of Zoning or Streets Code

More +

Where and when

In person

Permit and License Center
1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
MSB, Public Service Concourse
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Office hours: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

Offices close at noon on the last Wednesday of each month.

Cost

Fee types that may apply

Filing fee

  • Applications without plans: No filing fee is required if you are using the EZ Standard.
  • Applications with plans: $100 (credited towards the final permit fee)

This fee is nonrefundable and must be turned in with your application.

Permit fee

  • Accessory signs: $200 each
  • Non-accessory signs: $250 each

Surcharge fees

  • City surcharge: $3 per permit
  • State surcharge: $4.50 per permit

Record retention fee

  • Per page larger than 8.5 in. by 14 in.: $4

Accelerated Plan Review fee (optional)

Applications for new construction that include plans are eligible for expedited review. Accelerated applications are reviewed within 5–10 business days.

  • Fee: $540
  • If your plans require more than four hours to review, you will be charged an additional fee of $135 per hour.

To apply, fill out an Accelerated Plan Review application and submit with your permit application. Amount must be paid when you submit your application and will not be credited toward your final permit fee.

Payment methods and details

Accepted payment methods

Where Accepted payment
Online through the eCLIPSE application
  • Electronic check
  • Credit card (+2.5% surcharge)
In person at the Permit and License Center in the Municipal Services Building
  • Electronic check
  • Credit card (+2.5% surcharge)
In person at the Cashier’s Station in the Municipal Services Building

(Items paid at the Cashier’s Station will be mailed within five business days.)

  • Check
  • Money order
  • Credit card (+2% surcharge)
  • Cash

Checks and money orders

Check requirements
  • Make all checks and money orders payable to the “City of Philadelphia.”
  • The individual or company listed on the check must be listed on the application.
  • Personal checks are accepted.
  • Checks and money orders must have issue dates within 12 months of the transaction.
Reasons your check may be rejected

L&I will not accept checks that are missing depository information or are:

  • Unsigned.
  • Expired.
  • Post-dated.
  • Starter checks without account info

Returned payment policy

If your check is returned unpaid for insufficient or uncollected funds:

  1. You authorize the City of Philadelphia or its agent to make a one-time electronic fund transfer from your account to collect a fee of $20.
  2. The City of Philadelphia or its agent may re-present your check electronically to your depository institution for payment.

How

You can apply for this permit in person at the Permit and License Center. 

In person

1
Get any required pre-approvals before submitting your application to L&I.
2
Bring your completed application, application materials, and payment to the Permit and License Center.

The application must be made by a licensed contractor or include a signed statement on the contractor’s letterhead verifying involvement with the project.

3
L&I will review your application.

Applications with plans are processed within 20 business days.

You can accelerate the application for an additional fee. Accelerated applications are reviewed in 5-10 business days.

Applications that adhere to the EZ Standard for Building Sign Installation are processed while you wait.

4
Once approved, schedule your inspection.

Contact your local inspection office when the contractor is ready to start work. The contact information and required inspections will be noted on your permit.

A Certificate of Approval will be issued upon successful completion of all required inspections.


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