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The City of Portland, Oregon

Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300


1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

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Sign & Awning Permits

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.

Updates to sign submittal requirements:

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

  • Work to install a sign or awning prior to BDS issuing a permit is prohibited. Any such pre-permit work is subject to a citation of violation and a fine. Both the person installing a sign without a permit and the property owner can be found in violation of the code.
  • A separate permit application is required for each sign or awning.
  • All plans and drawings must be complete and drawn to scale. Line quality and contrast must be easily read and result in a readable document after photocopying, microfilming, scanning or similar reproduction. The site plan, and structural design drawings and calculations must be on substantial paper.
  • The requirements for alteration to an existing sign are the same as for a new sign, however if the expansion of the new sign is 10% or less than the size/area of the existing permitted sign, no structural drawings or calculations are required.
  • When a sign includes lighting or other electrical components the party doing the work must be an electrician licensed by the State of Oregon. 

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:

  • All details and dimensions of the sign;
  • Type of material and all dimensions of supports and footings;
  • Clearance above ground;
  • Distance of any projection over the right-of-way;
  • If the sign will be attached to a building:  Show the building roof line for the wall on which the sign will be mounted; and
  • Type of lighting.

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:

  • Site address;
  • Sign contractor’s name;
  • Property lines and lengths along street(s);
  • Building footprint;
  • Lengths of building walls:
    • that face a public street and have a public entrance; or
    • tenant space without street frontage, but with a public entrance facing a parking area;
  • Public entrance(s) to each building;
  • Name(s) of abutting street(s);
  • If the sign is to be located within 15' of a street corner or driveway, distance between sign and corner or driveway. Distance is measured from the street curb on a corner and from the driveway throat on a driveway (not required for sign alterations if the size or location of the sign is not changing);
  • Parking areas and driveways (not required for sign alterations);
  • Locations and dimensions of existing and proposed signs (for sign alterations where the sign size is not changing, include only the sign proposed for alteration)
  • Note which existing signs are freestanding and which project over the right-of-way (not required for sign alterations where the size or location is not changing); and
  • North arrow.

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.


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.

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.

    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.

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:

  • Prior to pouring footings for freestanding signs;
  • After installation of wall anchors for fascia or projecting signs, but before the sign is attached; and
  • When the project is completed.
  • Additional inspections may be required due to the complexity of the project.

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

  • 400 - Sign footings
  • 405 - Electrical service - sign
  • 410 - Sign structure
  • 999 - Final permit

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.

Applications & Handouts

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a sign?

32.22.020.YY.  Sign.  Materials placed or constructed, or light projected, that (1) conveys a message or image and (2) is used to inform or attract the attention of the public.  Some examples of ‘signs’ are materials or lights meeting the definition of the preceding sentence and which are commonly referred to as signs, placards, A-boards, posters, billboards, murals, diagrams, banners, flags, or projected slides, images or holograms.  The scope of the term ‘sign’ does not depend on the content of the message or image conveyed.

This does include text on awnings, exterior vinyl, placards, or painted imagery.

What is the primary building wall?

32.22.020.NN.  Primary building walls.  Any exterior building wall that faces a street and contains a public entrance to the occupant's premises or tenant space.  If an individual tenant space does not have a street facing wall or does not have a street facing wall containing a public entrance, then the primary building wall for that individual tenant space is any wall containing a public entrance that faces a parking area on the site.  See Figure 1.

Figure 1: Primary and Secondary Building Walls
building wall plot plan

How long is the review time?

The turnaround goal is 7-10 business days.

Why does a sign inventory need to be provided?

Allowable signage is based upon a ratio of either 1 sq. ft. per 1 ft. of primary building wall or 1.5 sq. ft. per 1 ft. of primary building wall depending on if there is a freestanding sign on the same street frontage. If the existing signage at site is over the allowable a Land Use Review will be required for the additional signage.

Scenario 1: Proposal is for a 50 sq. ft. blade sign on East Elevation Way. There is a freestanding sign located on that street frontage and the primary building wall is 40 feet.

Primary building wall          = 40’ linear feet
Allowable signage               = 40 sq. ft.
Proposal                               = 50 sq. ft.

In this case that is 10 sq. ft. over the allowable (40 minus 50 equals negative 10). The sign will need to be reduced or a Land Use decision is required.

Scenario 2:  Proposal is for a 32 sq. ft. fascia sign on an existing tenant space. There is no freestanding sign at site and the primary building wall 40 feet. There is an existing 32 sq ft. blade sign.

Primary building wall            = 40’ linear feet
Allowable signage                = 60 sq. ft.
Existing signage                  = 32 sq. ft.
Proposal                              = 32 sq. ft.
Total                                     = 64 sq. ft.

In this case that is 4 sq. ft. over the allowable signage (60 minus 64 equals negative 4).

Scenario 3:  Proposal is for 50 sq. ft. of text on a fabric awning. There is a freestanding sign at site and the primary building wall 100 feet. There is an existing 32 sq. ft. blade sign.

Primary building wall          = 100’ linear feet
Allowable signage               = 100 sq. ft.
Existing signage                  = 32 sq. ft.
Proposal                               = 50 sq. ft.
Total                                     = 82 sq. ft.

Remainder                           = 18 sq. ft.

In this case there is enough primary building wall for the additional signage.

Can the remainder of the tenant space signage be used for the Landlord?

That is on a case by case basis as it is dependent on the location of the primary building and secondary building walls at the site. Most times the answer is no based upon site conditions, but it is up to the applicant to provide the information for City staff to review. Please refer to 32.32.030.E.

Contact Us


Sign Specialist for signs, awnings and banners located on private property - 503-823-7996
Sign Specialist for portable (A-Board) signs only - 503-823-2633

Mail / Location:

City of Portland
Bureau of Development Services
1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 5000
Portland, OR 97201