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Sign, Awning, & Billboard Permit

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What Is It?

A sign permit allows you to install, alter, or retrofit lighting for any sign that has an area larger than 5 square feet or is connected to an electrical power source, including outline and border tube lighting. A sign permit also allows you to install or alter an awning, including re-covering an existing awning with a new material or changing or adding a business name on an existing awning. We will issue your sign permit after we review your application and plans, and confirm your plans meet the City’s code requirements.

We have two types of sign permit applications, one for on-premises signs and one for off-premises advertising signs (billboards). On-premises signs are used at the business location to identify the business's name, goods, and services available at that business. On-premises signs can also be used for non-commercial messages. Most new sign permits are for on-premises signs. Off-premises signs are billboard signs advertising products that are not related to a specific business location. Billboard registrations need to be renewed every year and are limited to existing registration numbers.

If your sign is connected to electrical power, an electrical permit is included with your sign permit when you complete the illumination information on the application. Electrical signs must be installed by a licensed electrical contractor, unless the sign is installed by the owner.

Your sign must:

How Much Does It Cost?

We have a basic fee for signs that are up to 100 square feet. We charge an additional amount for each square foot over 100 square feet. Our fees for awnings, border tube, and outline lighting are based on the total value of the sign project, including all labor and materials. We will add electrical fees to your permit fee for electrically operated or illuminated signs. Our fees may change annually and can be found in the current Fee Subtitle.

How Long Does It Take?

You can usually get your permit within a week, if your application packet is complete and accurate. You can bring your application and plans to our Applicant Services Center. You don't need an appointment and the wait time is generally less than 20 minutes. You can also mail your application. We process all applications in the order they are received.

Steps to Get Your Permit


1. Research

Get your property information. Find property information to help you plan your project, including locating existing structures and signs, lot lines, public rights-of-way, and preferred sign locations.

Determine restrictions to your project. You sign may have certain restrictions or need special approvals depending on its location.

  • You may need Seattle Department of Transportation annual street use permit if your sign extends over a public right-of-way, such as a street, a sidewalk, or an alley. You must get your street use permit before your apply for a sign permit.
  • If your sign is in a historic or special review district, or on the same lot as a landmark structure, you need a certificate of approval from the Department of Neighborhoods before you apply for your sign permit.
  • If your sign is in a shoreline district, you must comply with the sign standards for the Shoreline District.
  • If your sign is connected to electricity you must follow the Seattle Electrical Code and the Seattle Energy Code – Commercial requirements. In addition, lighted signs have illumination restrictions. See our electrical signs flyer for more information.

2. Start Permit Application

Prepare your application. Complete the sign application form, including all business license information and all signatures. Plan instructions are on the last page of the application forms

Coordinate with other agencies. You need a City of Seattle business license to do business within Seattle, including installing any sign, even if your business or corporate office is outside of the City limits.

3. Get Permit

Submit your application. Bring 3 sets of your completed application and plans to the Applicant Service Center, or mail it to Seattle DCI, OTC Permits, 700 Fifth Ave., Suite 2000, P.O. Box 34019 ,Seattle, WA 98124-4019. We do not accept sign permit applications by email or fax.

Pay fees. All permit fees are due when you submit your application. You may include a check with your submission, or you may select the “call me” option so a cashier can contact you for payment information.

5. Schedule Inspection

Request an inspection. You must request an inspection so our inspector can make sure your sign installation matches your approved plans. Schedule an inspection online or call (206) 684-8900.

  • We require a footing inspection for ground signs and pole signs before you pour the concrete foundation or footing. You must schedule the footing inspection at least 24 hours before the concrete is delivered.If you need to make special arrangements for your inspection, please call the sign inspector directly at (206) 684-8419.
  • You must pass a final inspection for all sign, awning, outline lighting, or border tube installations before your permit expires. If your permit expires before your final inspection, you may need to reestablish your permit and pay an additional fee. If too much time has passed since your permit expired, you will be required to get a new permit and comply with current regulations.

You may need a special inspection if your construction is complicated enough to require a technical expert to inspect the structure or soils. We will give you a special inspection schedule form if you need this inspection.

What Do You Want To Do?

Still Need Help?

 Ask Us

  • Contact our Sign Inspector at (206) 684-8419