• Getting Started

    Signs, awnings, and banners located on private property and portable signs (commonly known as A-Boards), regardless of location, are regulated by Title 32 (known as the sign code) of the Portland City Code. The Bureau of Development Services administers the sign code.

    The Portland Bureau of Transportation (503-823-5185) regulates signs located in the street right-of-way, except for portable signs (A-Boards). They also regulate signs attached to utility poles as specified in section 17.64.040.A in Title 17.

    Some signs are regulated by the sign code, but are exempt from permit or registration requirements. See section 32.62.010.A of the sign code for a listing of signs that are exempt from permits or registration. 

    Sign Specialist for signs, awnings and banners located on private property (503) 823-7996
      Sign Specialist for portable (A-Board) signs only (503) 823-7324
    Mail / Location:
    City of Portland
    Bureau of Development Services
    SW 4th Ave, Suite 5000
    Portland, OR 97201

    There are 5 Sign Permit Types:

    (1) Sign Permits:
    Required for installing new permanent signs and for structurally altering or relocating existing permanent signs on private property. Except for certain portable signs, private signs are prohibited in street rights-of-ways. Some private signs may project from a building into the street right-of-way. Indirect lighting (wall washing or backlit) for a sign requires a separate electrical permit. Types of signs include freestanding, monument, projecting, signs on awning, fascia/wall, painted wall/adhered, pitched roof and marquee. Signs are regulated by size (total area), height, placement, construction and wiring. Electrical components within a sign such as internal or neon lighting are covered by the sign permit, but to connect to it a circuit, an electrical permit is required. See section 32.32.010 for the sign standards in the residential and open space zones and section 32.32.020 for sign standards in the commercial, employment and industrial zones.

    (2) Awning Permit:
    Required for installing a new awning, for adding to an existing awning, or structurally altering or relocating an existing awning on property. Lighting for awnings requires a separate electrical permit. Private awnings may project from buildings into the right-of-way, but must comply with pedestrian clearance and right-of-way extension standards. See section 32.52 for additional information.

    (3) Temporary Banner/Balloon Registration: Required for hanging temporary banners and temporary balloon signs on private property. Some smaller banners (32 square feet and under) are exempt from both permit and registration requirements. Banners hung in the street rights-of-ways are regulated by the Portland Bureau of Transportation . They can be reached at (503) 823-5185. See section 32.32.030 K for additional information.

    (4) Portable Sign (sometimes known as A-Boards or Sandwich Boards) Registration: Required for all portable signs whether located on private property or in street right-of-way. See section 32.32.030 C.3 and section 32.32.030 G for additional information.

    (5) Temporary Fascia/Wall Sign and Temporary Freestanding Sign Registration:
    Required for these signs when displayed for more than one year. See section 32.32.030 K for additional information.

    Applying For My Permit

    General Information

    Submittal Requirements for a sign or awning permit

    1. One (1) Sign/awning permit application per sign
    2. Two (2) minimum 8 ½” x 11” elevation drawings for the sign and a listing of existing exterior signs, including:

    3. Two (2) copies of calculations showing allowed, existing and proposed sign area

    4. Two (2) minimum 8 ½” x 11” copies of a site plan, including:

    5. Two (2) copies structural design drawings; and two (2) copies of structural calculations (if applicable). 

    A. Drawings and Calculations. Drawings and calculations must be prepared by an engineer registered in Oregon. Drawings must include:

    1. Dimensions;
    2. Materials;
    3. Construction of the sign (e.g, plastic, light gauge steel);
    4. Foundations for freestanding signs;
    5. Methods of attachments to the building or structure; and,
    6. If the sign or awning is to be attached to a building, the drawings shall have information justifying the adequacy of building members to support the loads imposed by the sign and sign structure or awning and awning structure.

    B. Pre-approved Structural Designs and Calculations: Structural designs and calculations for certain types and sizes of signs and awnings have been pre-approved by BDS. Although no pre-approved designs are on file for awnings or projecting signs, the pre-approval process is available for these installations as well. Drawings must still be submitted. However, if the drawings show compliance with a pre-approved structural design, generally structural plan review will not be required. Drawings prepared and sealed/stamped by an engineer are not required for pre-approved structural designs.  Pre-approved structural designs are limited to:

    1. Freestanding Signs, Asymmetrical Design: 200 square feet maximum area when not over 25 feet from top of the sign to grade;
    2. Freestanding Signs, Symmetrical Design: 200 square feet maximum area when not more than 25 feet from top of sign to grade; or
    3. Projecting wall mounted Signs: 200 square feet maximum sign area and which not less than 8 feet clearance is provided below the sign to the highest ground level.  Pre-approved projecting sign designs will be limited to the attachment methods, attachment materials and wall materials specified in the request. 

    Submittal requirements for a temporary banner registration:

    Submittal requirements for a temporary fascia, freestanding or balloon sign registration:

    Submittal requirements for a portable (A-Board) sign:

    Submit the permit application to the Development Services Center in person or by mail.

    Plan Review Process

    When the proposed sign or awning has been determined to meet all requirements, fees are due and the permit or registration will be issued. Portable signs do not require a review process; application and fees should be submitted together.

    1. Submittal: Permit applications or registrations may be submitted to the Development Services Center by mail or in person. Permit applications may be submitted by mail or in person.
    2. Permit/Registration Review: BDS staff in the Development Services Center will check the proposed sign or awning for its consistency with the Sign Code standards applicable to the zoning and use of the proposed sign location. Development Services Center staff will also determine if additional reviews are needed for compliance with land use standards (example: adjustment review or design review) or additional structural standards. 
      • No additional review required. When the proposed sign or awning has been determined to meet all requirements and no additional review is required, fees are due and the permit or registration will be issued. 
      • Additional Review Required. When the proposal requires a land use review or structural review, these reviews must be completed before the permit will be issued.  Please allow additional time for these reviews.
        • Land Use Review: If a land use sign standard is not met, land use review of the proposed sign or awning may be required prior to approval and issuance of a sign permit. These reviews apply only to the standards contained in Chapters 32.30 through 32.38. Not all standards are adjustable. Signs and awnings may be subject to design review, sign adjustment, special plan district standards or other regulations based on the zoning of the site. A special review may be required to determine the “grand-fathered” rights of any existing signs on the site that do not meet the land use sign standards. Land use review fees must be paid when the land use review application is submitted.
          If the proposal receives an approved land use review, the applicant records the decision with the County recorder and forwards a copy along with the sign permit application and plans to the Development Services Center. BDS Land Use Review staff in the Development Services Center will then review the sign permit application for compliance with the land use review decision.
        • Structural Review: When structural review is required, Development Services Center staff will forward the permit application package to Plan Review for review. When the structural review is complete and the proposal approved, DSC staff will notify the applicant. Structural Review is required for: 
          (a) All awnings;
          (b) Signs projecting from or above buildings;
          (c) All freestanding signs;
          (d) Any wall sign that is over 400 lbs or over 7 lbs per square foot. Any wall sign that is not completely flush mounted-this includes signs on raceways;
          (e) Where structural designs and calculations are not pre-approved by BDS; or
          (f) Structural alterations to existing signs unless the alteration results in an expansion which is less than 10% of the existing sign size.

          A structural engineer will check the structural design for compliance with the Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC). All exterior signs must be able to resist the minimum wind loads and snow loads as required by the OSSC. All signs must be able to resist minimum vertical (dead and seismic) loads as required by OSSC.

    3. Permit Issuance: The permit will be issued when all reviews are complete, the proposed sign is approved, and fees are paid.

    Inspection Process

    Inspections are required for all sign and awning permits. Call for inspections at the following points in the project:

    To request an inspection , call (503) 823-7000 and select:

    A special inspection may be required for complex signs as specified in the Oregon Structural Specialty Code. Notice will be given to the applicant as part of the engineering review process. When a special inspection is required, it must be performed by a City of Portland certified testing agency. For more information about  special inspections call (503) 823-7782.

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