Sign, Awning, & Billboard Permit

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 32 square feet. We charge an additional amount for each increment of 10 square foot over the first 32 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 add electrical fees to your permit for electrically operated or illuminated signs. Our fees may change annually. All fees are subject to an additional technology fee. See our Fee Subtitle for details.

How Long Does It Take?

You can usually get your permit issued within about one week, provided your application is complete, accurate, and doesn’t require any corrections. You can submit your electronic application and upload your plans using our Seattle Services Portal.

Steps to Get Your Permit

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 standards for signs in 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.

All sign permit applications must be submitted through our Seattle Services Portal. If you haven’t already done so, go online to the Seattle Services Portal and create an account.

Start your application. Login to the Seattle Services Portal and then click on Permits – Trade, Construction & Land Use under Create New. Select Sign, Awning, and Canopy Permit from the list. Follow the prompts to fill out your application. We will review your application and either contact you with questions or notify you of any corrections that are required before your permit is issued.

Pay fees. All permits are due when you submit your application. You can pay your fees through the Seattle Services Portal.

Print permit. We will notify you when your permit and approved plans are ready for you to download from your Seattle Services Portal

Request an inspection. You must request an inspection so our inspector can make sure your sign installation matches your approved plans. You can request an inspection through your Seattle Services Portal.

  • 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 or covering the hole permanently. 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 also need a special inspection if your construction is complex enough to require a technical expert to inspect the structure, attachments, or soil conditions. We will give you a special inspection schedule form to be completed by the engineer of record or the project owner if a special inspection is required.

Construction and Inspections

Nathan Torgelson, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Phone: (206) 684-8600
Phone Alt: Violation Complaint Line: (206) 615-0808
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SDCI issues land use, construction, and trade permits, conducts construction and housing-related inspections, ensures compliance with our codes, and regulates rental rules. SDCI is committed to an antiracist workplace and to addressing racism through our work in the community.