Owner Project Requirements: Signs


Work you can do without a permit, Licensed Skilled Tradesperson, Licensed Contractor, or Registered Design Professional

There is some minor work, described in the sections below, which can be performed without a work permit, without hiring a Licensed Contractor, and/or without hiring a Registered Design Professional.


Work you can do without a permit

The NYC Administrative Code §28-105.4.5 and Local Law 1 RCNY 101-14 clarify signs exempt from permit. Such exemptions shall not grant authorization for work that violates other provisions of the code, the zoning resolution or any other laws or rules, or relieve owners of the obligation to comply with the requirements of other city, state and federal agencies, including filing requirements. A sign permit is not required for the following:

  • A sign painted directly on the exterior wall surface of a building or a fence;
  • A wall sign of six square feet or less (0.56 m²) in area
  • A ground or temporary sign of 12 square feet or less (1.1 m²) in area, offering the sale or rental of the premises on which it is erected
  • A temporary sign for special decorative holiday display, public demonstrations, or the promotion of civic, welfare or charitable purposes, except signs utilizing streets or cross streets are subject to requirements of the Department of Transportation

No permit, but work requires a Licensed/Registered Contractor

NYC Administrative Code §28-105.4.5 does not require a permit for the erection of temporary construction related signs, as outlined in Building Code Section 3301, or on construction equipment such as sidewalk sheds, scaffolding, and construction fences. However, temporary construction signs are installed under the supervision and direction of the permit holder of such construction equipment.


When you need to hire a professional and obtain a permit

Permits are tied to scope of work and work type, and are regulated by the nature of the work, licensing, and registration requirements. The hoisting, lowering, installation of the sign and associated electric wiring can only be performed by DOB registered contractors with specialized trade licenses to perform such work.

Sign Hangers
Licensed Sign Hangers (Special Sign Hangers and Master Sign Hangers) are allowed to submit construction documents and plans for approval by the Department for sign project permit applications (SG). Such permits can only be obtained by a person who possesses a Sign Hanger License, except as listed in AC 28-415.1.

  • A Special Sign Hanger is authorized to hoist, lower, hang or attach any sign not exceeding one hundred fifty square feet in area, measured on one face only, nor exceeding one thousand two hundred pounds in weight, upon or on the outside of any building.
  • A Master Sign Hanger is authorized to hoist, lower, hang or attach any sign, irrespective of weight, upon or on the outside of any building.
  • Other hoisting or rigging licenses may also be needed for associated equipment operation, per AC Articles 404 and 405.

Licensed Electrician
Electrical work including new installation, alteration, or repair of electric wiring, wiring apparatuses, appliances or equipment requires a separately submitted electrical permit and shall be performed by a New York City Licensed Electrical Contractor who shall coordinate with other members of the project team. When such application includes work as listed below, or requires Energy Conservation Code (ECC) compliance, it must reference the general project application number. Electrical construction documents are not required to be submitted by a Registered Design Professional, except as follows:

  • Electrical Advisory Board plan examination, submitted by a Licensed Electrician when electrical equipment or installation is at least 1000 KVA. (1 RCNY § 34-05)
  • Energy Conservation Code compliance, to demonstrate Lighting Power Density Energy Code compliance. ECC § C405.5 and Table C405.5.2(2) for these requirements.
  • Fire Alarm System - FDNY Plan Examination, the periodic testing, inspection and maintenance by either a Licensed Electrician or Registered Design Professional. FC 604

General Contractor
The Owner must hire a Registered Design Professional to submit permit application plans to the Department prior to work being performed by a General Contractor.

NYC Administrative Code Section 28-415.1 limits work that can be performed without a Licensed Sign Hanger, to the following:

  • Signs not exceeding 75 square feet (7 m²) in area, measured on one face only, nor exceeding 25 pounds (11 kg) in weight;
  • Signs supported directly on the ground; or
  • Directional signs; or
  • Temporary signs erected during the construction or alteration of a building and related to such work.

When you need to hire a Registered Design Professional or a General Contractor to obtain a permit

For an application that includes a sign of a size or type in which a Licensed Sign Hanger may not be the Applicant of Record, a Registered Design Professional shall submit construction plans to obtain Department approval of such application prior to the Licensed Sign Hanger obtaining a work permit.


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