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Permits, violations & licenses

Get an Outdoor Advertising License

Service overview

Any company that owns an outdoor advertising sign needs an Outdoor Advertising License.

An outdoor advertising sign is any sign that advertises a business or activity that doesn’t take place at the property where the sign is located. Exceptions include:

  • Advertisements on operative motor vehicles or pedestrians.
  • Advertisements on newsstands.
  • Information that must be on structures by law or ordinance.
  • Notices on a property that it is for sale or rent.
  • Signs owned and sponsored by a community, civic, or charitable organization.
  • Signs that identify a company performing on-site construction.
  • On-site public art.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) issues these licenses.

Who

Outdoor advertising sign owners and their agents can apply for this license.

Requirements

Other licenses and registrations

Tax compliance

You must be current on all City taxes.

Sign inventory

You must complete and submit an outdoor advertising sign inventory. This inventory must include the following information for each sign:

  • OPA address and location description
  • Latitude and longitude
  • Number of support columns
  • Number and size of sign faces
  • Sign format
  • Inventory number
  • Height of sign face
  • Zoning permit number
  • Building permit number
  • Inspection and certification information

Where and when

Online

You can apply online using eCLIPSE.

If you need help filing your application online, you can schedule a virtual appointment.

Cost

License fee

$0.51 per square foot in the inventory

A non-refundable application fee of $20 is applied toward the license fee. The balance of the license fee is due once your application is approved.

Renewal fee

$1.03 per square foot in the inventory

If you renew your license more than 60 days after the due date, you will be charged 1.5% of the license fee for each month since the license expired.

Payment methods and details

Accepted payment methods

Where Accepted payment
Online through the eCLIPSE application

(There is a $200,000 limit for online payments.)

  • Electronic check
  • Credit card (+2.25% surcharge)
In person at the Permit and License Center in the Municipal Services Building
  • Electronic check
  • Credit card (+2.25% 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 (+2.25% 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 will be charged a $20 fee for collection.
  2. You authorize the City of Philadelphia or its agent to make a one-time electronic fund transfer from your account to collect this fee directly.
  3. The City of Philadelphia or its agent may re-present your check electronically to your depository institution for payment.
  4. If the City is unable to obtain payment, the license, permit, or appeal application will be void.
  5. You cannot take any additional action under a permit until you have paid all fees.
  6. The permit or license will be revoked if the outstanding fees are not paid within 30 days.
  7. You cannot file or obtain additional permits until you resolve the outstanding debt.

Late license payment

If you renew your license more than 60 days after the due date, you will be charged 1.5% of the license fee for each month since the license expired.

How

You can apply for this license online using eCLIPSE.

1
Upload all required documents.

Applications are reviewed within five business days.

2
If the application is approved, you will receive a notice to pay the balance.

If the application isn’t approved, you will receive an email stating what is missing or required.

Renewal requirements

This license must be renewed every 5 years. You can renew online through eCLIPSE.

To renew your license, you must:

  • Be current on all City of Philadelphia taxes.
  • Have a valid email address.

Changes to inventory

You must submit all changes to the inventory through a license amendment at the time the change occurs. You can’t submit changes with a license renewal application.


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