Outdoor advertising regulations and zoning laws reduce visual clutter and protect people from dangerous and illegally installed signs. Signs must comply with regulations outlined in the NYC Construction Codes and the NYC Zoning Resolution. Signs, either advertising or non-advertising, must comply with the regulations set forth in the Zoning Resolution (surface area, height, illumination, etc.) and Building Code (structural issues, permits, etc).

Failure to comply may result in issuance violations and the assessing of fines. The Sign Enforcement Unit regulates outdoor signage in New York City. The Unit also administers the Outdoor Advertising Registration program.

Advertising Signs

An advertising sign is a sign that directs attention to goods or services at a location other than the premises where the sign is located. Advertising signs are only permitted in certain zoning districts throughout the City. A sign directing attention to a business at the same location is not an advertising sign. A sign unrelated to any commercial business is also not an advertising sign. Types of advertising signs include:

Accessory Sign

A sign that directs attention to a business at the sign’s location is an accessory sign and is not considered advertising. These are often referred to as business or on-premises signs.

Advertising Sign

An advertising sign directs attention to goods or services not found at the location of the sign.

Arterial Highway

Arterial Highways are shown on the Master Plan of Arterial Highways and Major Streets, as principal routes, "Parkways," or "Toll Crossings," and are designated by the City Planning Commission. Additional regulations apply to signs located in proximity to arterial highways and public parks one-half acre or larger.

Arterial Highways include:

  • Northern Boulevard
  • Queens Boulevard
  • Bruckner Expressway
  • FDR Drive
  • Long Island Expressway


Public Park

A public park is any publicly-owned park, playground, beach, parkway, or roadway within the jurisdiction and control of the Commissioner of Parks, except for park strips or malls in a street the roadways of which are not within such jurisdiction and control. Here is a list of public parks ½ acre or larger:

Note: The High Line Park, from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street, is considered a public park of ½ acre or more.


Prohibited Locations

There are strict regulations regarding the location of advertising signs.


Zoning Districts

Advertising signs are not permitted in residential districts and most commercial districts.  The Zoning Resolution provides guidance on where advertising signs are permitted.


Temporary Protective Construction Structures

Advertising signs are not permitted on construction fences, scaffolds, or sidewalk sheds. NYC Construction Code §3307.1.1 prohibits the posting of any information, pictorial representation, business or advertising message to any protective structure. However, when a temporary structure obscures the view of a lawful existing (non-advertising) sign, a temporary sign may be posted on the protective structure.


Telephone Number Requirements on Construction Signs

There has been some confusion in the past as to the phone number requirements on various construction signs and the use of 311. We hope that you will find the following useful.

Sidewalk Sheds
Building Code Sect. 26-252 b - a sign is required listing the name, address, and phone number of the permit holder and the permit expiration date.

Construction Projects
Building Code Sect. 27-1009 (c) - a sign is required listing the name, address, and phone number of the property owner and the general contractor.

Demolition Jobs

Chapter 8 of Title 1 - Sect. 8-01 (d) (1) - a sign is required listing the name, address, and phone number of the demolition contractor and the Department of Buildings complaint number - 311.

Site Safety Jobs
Chapter 26 of Title 1 - Sect. 26-01 (h) - these phone numbers are required in addition to those required by Sect 27-1009 for construction jobs above:

  • Department of Buildings - 311
  • The Building Enforcement Safety Team (BEST)
  • The Emergency Response Team (ERT) - 311
  • Department of Transportation (DOT) - 311

Sites Where New Building and Demolition Permits Are Required
1 RCNY 27-04 - a sign is required stating the following: "TO ANONYMOUSLY REPORT UNSAFE CONDITIONS AT THIS WORK SITE CALL 311"

All other specifications regarding letter size, square footage of sign, location, etc. can be found in the appropriate sections of law.


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