Permits, violations & licenses

Get a Zoning Permit for signs

Service overview

You need to get zoning approval to install signs. The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) issues these approvals.

The Philadelphia Zoning Code includes rules for:

  • Number of signs
  • Type
  • Size
  • Location
  • Height
  • Illumination or lighting

Types of signs that don’t need zoning permits

  • Window signs installed in up to two windows or doors. The sign can’t take up more than 20 percent of the transparent glazed area of a door or window.
  • Signs located in a building’s interior that are more than 18 in. from, or on more than a 45 degree angle to any window or opening. These signs are not intended to be visible from the outside.
  • Digital and video screens on outdoor equipment such as fuel pumps and ATM’s (limited to 1 sq. ft.)
  • Signs that give directions and are under 10 sq. ft. in area and under 7 ft. in height
  • Temporary real estate signs
    • Residential districts: 6 sq. ft. per face
    • Other districts: 12 sq. ft. per face

Approval without plans

If the proposed signs fit certain standards, you do not need to submit plans. Check if your sign complies with our EZ Sign Standard for Zoning.

Who

Property owners and their authorized agents who want to install signs should apply for zoning approval. Authorized agents may include:

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

Requirements

Permit application

The permit application must include the complete listing of addresses and current owner information.

Applicants using the EZ Sign Standard

Completed EZ Standard for Zoning Sign Installation form

Plans

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

Photographs

Photographs of existing conditions must be provided to verify signage at a lot or on a building

Required pre-approvals

For projecting signs or awnings with text on sides perpendicular to building face over the right-of-way.

More +

For signs within certain areas of the CTR overlay.

More +

For signs in Market East Advertising District.

More +

For signs within land under the jurisdiction of the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

More +

For signs within 200 feet of Roosevelt Boulevard, Cobbs Creek Parkway, Fairmount Park, or Cobbs Creek Park.

More +

For any projections or encroachments in the right-of-way

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

  • $100

This fee is nonrefundable. It will be credited toward the final permit fee.

Permit fee

Signs are grouped into two categories based on their content:

  • Accessory signs (located at the same place as the activity or business they advertise): $200 per sign
  • Non-accessory signs (advertising goods or services found at a different location): $315 per sign

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. The 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 approval 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.

Applications with plans are processed within 20 days business days.

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

Applications without plans are processed while you wait.

3
If approved, the applicant will receive a notice to pay the balance or be issued the approval over the counter.

If not approved, L&I will request more information.


Top