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If you’re a merchant thinking about getting a new sign for your business, the first step is understanding the zoning of your property.

The Philadelphia Zoning Code addresses all aspects of land use, construction, rehabilitation and building improvements – including accessory signs (meaning signs relating to the business activity occurring on the premises) and facade improvements (meaning changes to the front of your building).

In order to install a sign that is considered legal in the City, you need both a Zoning Permit and a Building Permit.

In order to receive a Zoning Permit, a merchant must demonstrate to L&I that the proposed sign fits within the requirements and limitations as described in the Zoning Code

If the proposed sign does not fit within the stated guidelines of the Zoning Code, the application will be rejected. A merchant can then apply for a Variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Applying for a variance can be a lengthy and time consuming process, requiring your availability for hearings in Center City. You may also be asked to solicit input from the community regarding your proposed sign. Variances are best reserved for applicants who have a special burden in meeting the guidelines described in the Zoning Code.

We strongly recommend that you work with your designer in creating a design that fits within the Zoning Code for your property – it will save you time and money.

To find out your zoning code, check the City’s zoning map.