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«Permit Process for Signs What is a sign? Signs are deemed to be a name, identification, description, display, illustration, or character which is ...»

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Permit Process for Signs

What is a sign? Signs are deemed to be a name, identification, description, display,

illustration, or character which is affixed to, or represented directly or indirectly upon a

building, structure, or piece of land and which directs attention to an object, product,

place, activity, person, institution, organization, or business.

What is an awning? Awnings are a rooflike covering extending over or in front of a

door or window as a shelter with signage included.

What is a canopy? An ornamental rooflike structure with signage included.

A permit is required from the Department of Buildings for the installation of all signs, awnings and/or canopies.

What are the various types of signs?

Signs (electrical): Electrical signs are signs that are electrically illuminated.

• Flat signs: Flat signs are signs which are placed flat against the building or structure from which they are supported and which run parallel thereto. Signs supported from a canopy are deemed to be flat signs when they are single face.

• Ground signs: Ground signs are signs supported by a structure which rests on or in the ground.

• Projecting signs: Projecting signs are awnings and/or canopy signs which project obliquely or at right angles from the building or structure from which they are supported.

• Roof signs: Roof signs are signs which are erected on and supported by the roof of a building or structure.

• Signboards (billboards, paintboards, and posted panelboards): Signboards are signs which fall into this general classification and are commonly known by this or other titles.

Business Owner and/or Property Owner should follow these steps for sign permits:

Step I – Business Owner and/or property owner hires a Sign Erector Company that is registered and bonded with the City of Chicago Department of Buildings to apply for all permits related to the installation of the proposed sign, awning and/or canopy.

Step II – Business Owner and/or property owner works with the Sign Erector Company to determine the type of signage, dimensions and language content.

Step III – Business Owner and/or property owner works with the Sign Erector Company to complete the Department of Building Sign Permit Application.

If the proposed sign, awning, or canopy exceed 100 square feet, an application for Council Approval is required. Pursuant to Municipal Code section 13-20-680, “A city council order approving a sign shall be required in addition to the normal permit for any sign which exceeds 100 feet2 (9.3 m2) in area or any roof or ground sign, structure or signboard over 24 feet (7.32 m) in height. Before the application for a permit for such sign is filed with the building commissioner, the applicant shall submit a duplicate of the application to the alderman of the ward in which the sign is to be located. At the time the duplicate is submitted to the alderman, the applicant shall submit to the city clerk an order for the approval or disapproval of the sign for introduction at the next regular meeting of the city council, and proof that the public notice provided for in this section has been given and a list of all persons who have been given such notice. The council order, upon being introduced to the council, shall be forwarded to the appropriate committee for hearing. Prior to filing its application, the applicant for the permit shall give notice to all voters registered at addresses within 250 feet (76.2 m) of the proposed sign location.” Step IV – Business owner and/or property owner works with the Sign Erector Company to complete the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Use of the Public Way Permit Application, if the proposed sign, awning and/or canopy will extend from the property line over the public right away.




Step I – Go to www.cityofchicago.org/buildings and click on the “Login to EPermitting” button Step II – Enter user name and password (if this is your first time, you are required to create a user account) Step III – Click on “Apply for a Permit” Step IV – Choose “SIGNS” from the drop down menu Click Next Step V – Enter the address where the sign is being erected Click Next Step VI – Enter the estimated cost and sign type description (i.e. signboards, ground signs, painted wall signs, flat signs, projecting signs, roof signs, or billboards) indicating whether or not the sign is on premise or off premise Click Next Step VII – Enter sign details (i.e. signboards, ground signs, painted wall signs, flat signs, projecting signs, roof signs, or billboards), indicate whether it is business or advertising, length, height, width, shape, number of faces, area, electrical equipment and the sign language content Click Next Step VIII – If electrical work is required, enter the licensed electrical contractor information in the “Additional Contractor” section Step IX – Enter sign warrant payer (i.e. Business Owner and/or Property Owner) information in the “Add Additional Applicant” link Click Next Step X – Remit payment via credit card for the Zoning Review fee in the amount of $200 for on-premise or $500 for off- premise (this payment is required in order to begin the review process in the Department of Zoning) Step XI – Print copy of payment confirmation Step XII – Print two copies of the completed sign permit application. One copy for your file and submit the other hard copy of the completed sign permit application, site plan (available in the Department of Zoning), construction drawings and rendering for each application to the Department of Zoning for review.

Sign applications submitted to the Department of Zoning are reviewed for location, size, placement, setback, height, type and other characteristics to ensure conformance with the zoning ordinance.

All applications will be reviewed and either approved or denied electronically (on-line) to the Department of Buildings permit system.

If the review is denied, the Department of Zoning will return the application detailing the corrections to the Sign Erector via US Mail.

If the review is approved, the Department of Zoning will forward the application to the Department of Buildings for review.

Step XIV – The Department of Buildings will review the application (construction detail, approved council orders) to ensure compliance with the Chicago Building Code.

Step XV – Upon approval by the Department of Buildings, the Sign Erector receives an electronic notification that their application has been approved and is ready for payment and printing of the actual permit.

In the event the sign, awning, or canopy extend from the property line over the public right away and the sign erector has not provided the Department of Buildings with a copy of the Public Way Permit, the application will not be processed for permit issuance until this documentation is received.

Step XVI – Upon issuance of the Sign Permit by the Department of Buildings, the Sign Erector is required to obtain a permit to occupy the public right away for the installation of the sign from the Department of Transportation at City Hall Room 905.

Department of Buildings and Department of Zoning Review Fees for Sign


–  –  –

Over street level (Above Grade):

Canopies/Awnings, Signs, Light Fixtures, Balconies, Banners

On Street Level (At Grade):

Planters, Decorative Pavers, Bollards, Windscreens, Kiosks, Sidewalk Café’s

Under Street Level (Below Grade):

Vaults, Conduit (encased wiring), Caissons (foundation), Earth Retention Systems, Irrigation Systems ********************************************************************************** Steps to Obtain a Public Way Use Permit

1. OBTAIN AN APPLICATION Download applications online at www.cityofchicago.org/businessaffairs, or call 312-74GOBIZ for an application to be sent via fax, mail or e-mail. If you are a new business owner you may request an application when you apply for your business license in the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) Business Assistance Center at 121 N. LaSalle St. City Hall Room 800.

–  –  –

4. SUBMIT APPLICATION Submit a complete PWU application to the BACP Public Way Use Unit.

Once the application is submitted, it is referred to the appropriate inspecting department(s) for approval. If your application is disapproved you will be notified with an explanation.

–  –  –

After a public way use permit is issued, fees are due annually and are either a flat fee ranging from $50-$400 per year or will vary based on sq. footage, real estate value and whether you are on, over or under the public way. The minimum charge is $400.00 per year.

General Liability Insurance must indemnify the City of Chicago, its agents and employees and name the City of Chicago as additional insured throughout the duration of the permit term. Once BACP has received payment and proof of insurance, your permit will be mailed to you.


Other Things You Should Know:


Each permit is valid for five (5) years; you will be billed each year. General Liability Insurance must be re-submitted and remain current each year or the permit will automatically void. At the end of the five year term, the application process will need to be repeated.


Any City debt must be resolved prior to the issuance or renewal of any Public Way Use Permit or Business License.


A public way use permit could take between 30-90 days from the time your complete application is submitted.


Anybody found using the public way without the proper permits will be subject to a removal order and fines ranging between $25-$200 per use, with the exception of Sidewalk Café violations. Sidewalk café violations are $200-$500 per violation.


• A Sidewalk Café permit allows the sale of food and liquor on the sidewalk.

• Sidewalk Café season extends from March 1st through December 1st.

• Businesses seeking a sidewalk café permit must have a retail food license.

• BYOB is not permitted on the public way.

• Detailed information and Sidewalk Café Permit applications are available at www.cityofchicago.org/businessaffairs.


• Sandwich boards are not allowed on the sidewalk in Chicago.

• Sidewalk sales require a $25 permit issued by the Office of Emergency Management and Communication (OEMC) and require aldermanic approval.

• Handing out flyers on the public way does not require a permit, however your Business License number must be printed on all materials.

–  –  –

Sign Permit Application

1. Please find attached an application for the use of the public right-of-way. The LEGAL NAME of the applicant will be the entity that the permit will be issued to, as well as the entity that will be responsible for paying annual usage fees and listing the city as co-insured on liability insurance coverage relating to the public way encroachment.

2. This application is to be completed for any qualified permanent occupation of public way space, including encroachments on, over or under the street, sidewalk, parkway or alley.

3. You must include plans printed on 8-1/2 inch by 11 inch paper which display the items to be located on, over or under the public way. The exact dimensions must be clearly marked on the plans depicting the actual area of public-way affected by the encroachment.

4. Include photos of the existing public way encroachment, or the location of the proposed public way encroachment as well as the actual area of public-way affected by the encroachment.

5. If the applicant does not have a current account number with the Department of Revenue - IRIS, a Business Information Sheet (BIS) must be completed to create an account. Any questions that do not apply to your situation should be marked N/A (not applicable).

6. When you have completed the application together with plans and photos, you can send by mail to the location listed below.

NOTE: It is the responsibility of the applicant to obtain the signature of the alderman of the ward on the application where the public way use is located prior to submitting.

In addition, the applicant shall also obtain the appropriate construction permit(s). Please contact the Department of Buildings and/or the Department of Transportation for details.

7. All public way encroachments require review and approval by various City Inspecting Departments. The Public Way Unit will be responsible for obtaining such approvals.

8. Once approved, the Public Way Unit will prepare the necessary documents for introduction to the City Council by the alderman of the ward where the use of the public way is to exist.

9. After introduction to the City Council, the matter is referred to the Committee on Transportation.

If passed, the matter is then sent back to the Council for full passage, at which time the Public Way Unit will notify the applicant by mail.

10. The notification will request the first year’s annual fee, Certificate of Insurance and acceptance letter signed by applicant.

11. Once received, the Public Way Unit will issue and mail your permit for Public Way Use.

12. Permits for all privilege types are issued for (5) years and are renewable.

Please submit all of your application materials via mail to our address listed below.

No faxes will be accepted.

–  –  –

See attached example of required sign plan.

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