If you are a business owner in New York City at some point you will most likely have to deal with the often confusing and stressful process of acquiring permits for an outdoor sign. You will quickly discover the dizzying amount of requirements in place that cover everything from size, illumination, placement, and construction etc.

What Are The Sign Laws?

There are two sets of laws that cover all signs throughout the five boroughs – The New York City Building Code and The New York City Zoning Resolution. The regulation of commercial sign maintenance and construction is covered by the building code which is focused on the safety and health of the general public. With the NYC Zoning Resolution the primary focus is maintaining the aesthetics of different neighborhoods throughout the city.

What Are The Differences?

Think of the differences between Time Square in Manhattan and quiet brownstone residences in Park Slope, Brooklyn to understand why you will encounter restrictions on how large, how bright and even where you can put your signs.

The rules for zoning can vary according to what your signs will be used for. If you are placing them at your business location or using them off site for advertising there will be different regulations to follow.

  • Advertising Signs – Will steer attention to a business or product sold somewhere throughout the city. Article 1, Chapter 2, Section 12-10
  • Accessory Signs – Will exist on the same zoning property and must be directly connected to the business. Clear definitions of the 3 requirements can be found in Section 12-10 of the Zoning Resolution.
  • Residential Districts – All advertising signs are banned but allow accessory signage with limitations.
  • Commercial Districts – Rules and regulations for both advertising and accessory signage get a lot more complicated in commercial districts. You can only place advertising signage up in C6-5, C6-7, C7 and C8 commercial districts. For accessory signs you are limited by the size of the building and must plan accordingly.
  • Manufacturing Districts – These districts are far more lenient when it comes to most signage. There are there manufacturing districts throughout the city (M1, M2, and M3). These three areas generally allow both advertising and accessory signs. Some regulations on sign surface area according to lot size will be imposed.

Sign Permit Process

Before you install any signs you may also need to acquire a permit from the Department of Buildings. There are three different kinds that they issue – Lighted Sign, Construction and Electrical. You usually need to get permits if your sign is larger than six square feet. If your new sign will need electricity to operate you will also need and electrical permit. If the sign will illuminate you will need a permit for that too and will require additional fees. The application for both the construction permit and the illuminated sign permit must be filed with the Department of Buildings’ Borough Office in the borough where the sign is to be installed.

There are also permits required if your business is within a historical district. You will need to file with he Landmarks Preservation Commission. Once all of your permits are stamped and approved you will need to hire a fully licensed and insured professional to install your new signs if you haven’t already hired one to assist with the permitting process. We have helped thousands of customers throughout the New York metropolitan area secure the proper permits for their commercial signage. Call Valle Signs & Awnings today for a consultation (516) 408-3440. Visit us on Facebook

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