GRCC staff often receives questions from local businesses about sidewalk signs and whether they’re legal in Chicago. While many entrepreneurs use them effectively, businesses placing signage on the public way risk fines from the city. Until now! Effective March 1, 2022, businesses will be allowed to legally use sidewalk signs by obtaining a new City of Chicago permit. This includes A-frame, sandwich board, T-frame, and other temporary, self-supporting sign types.
Street-facing businesses will be able to use permitted sidewalk signs to advertise their business safely and effectively. This change is the final piece of Mayor Lightfoot’s Chi Biz Strong Initiative, a legislative package of financial relief and regulatory reform for businesses and workers.
“A sidewalk sign is easily visible to passersby and can be a practical, affordable investment for a small business. We want to encourage businesses to use the spaces outside their location to create attractive streetscape while ensuring safety and mobility for everyone.”Kenneth Meyer, Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protections
The new permit application will be available on March 1st on the City’s Inspections, Permitting & Licensing portal. Permits will be valid for 5 years from the date of issuance, with an annual permit fee of $100.
Legal Sidewalk Sign Guidelines
- Businesses are allowed one sign per street address.
- The City will provide approved applicants with a permit decal to display on the sign. Sidewalk signs must display a permit decal.
- Signs must be no larger than 6 square feet in area (per face) and no greater than 4 feet in height.
- Signs can only contain information for goods and services provided on the premises.
- Sidewalk signs cannot interfere with the flow of pedestrians, access to building entrances, pedestrian and traffic safety, or the aesthetic quality of the surrounding area.
- Signs can only be displayed during hours the business is open to the public. Businesses must remove signs from the sidewalk when closing for the day.
- Permit applications must include a plan or sketch of the proposed sidewalk sign, including proposed dimensions and language.
- Applicants are required to show proof of commercial general liability insurance.
BACP Permit Webinar
On Thursday, February 24 at 10 AM, the Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protections is hosting a sidewalk sign permit info session. You can expect an overview of the application process, operational conditions, and sign requirements. To register, visit Chicago.gov/BusinessEducation. Can’t make it? Don’t worry, BACP is recording the webinar. You’ll be able to view it on-demand at YouTube.com/ChicagoBACP.