What You Need To Know About Restaurant Sign Permits

What You Need To Know About Restaurant Sign Permits

Today we’re here to discuss “What you need to know about restaurant sign permits”. All businesses, whether they are a retailer or a restaurant...

know that good signage opens the door to billions of opportunities—and lots of hungry customers. A great sign is more than just a way to get drive-by traffic interested in what you have got cooking. A great sign is going to stick with someone and become a first impression. But before you can even start announcing your restaurant to the world, you need to impress upon the local municipalities first.

That means you need to receive a business sign permit to order to put signage on your storefront. So lets dive into what you need to know about restaurant sign permits.

Steps To Obtaining a Business Sign Permit

Getting a restaurant sign permit from the local government does not have to be difficult, but it can be a long, drawn out process if you are unprepared for it. Many states and towns have their own standards for signs, based on zones and other rules and regulations, so you will have to do some research on your own to learn the requirements for your specific area. If you have trouble getting the information you need, a professional sign contractor can help.

Local Requirements

Any business that wants to put up a sign is going to have to get a permit or two. If you plan on placing permanent restaurant signs, awning signs, wall-mounted signs, illuminated signs, navigational signs, or even special event signs on your property, you are going to need permits.

Some signs do not need permits but can be prohibited if they are a certain size or block a driver’s view. For example, signs that are carried by people or displayed on a flagpole or political campaign signage do not require permits yet need to be placed away from the road.

Temporary signage does not require as long a process, but you may need permits for these kinds of signs as well. Some instances that usually require a business sign permit include banners that are going to be up for 90 consecutive days, balloons that are up for 10 consecutive days, grand opening banners used for more than 2 weeks consecutively, and so on.

Rental Agreement

In the event you are leasing or renting the space where you will have your restaurant, you need to get approval from the landlord prior to submitting the signage application. Make sure to include their notice of approval with the permit application to avoid any dilemmas.

Application Submission

Depending on where your restaurant is located—zone, town, state—the application process will differ. Some places allow for you to submit all the necessary information online without the help of a professional sign contractor. Other states require the contractor to do the work and hand in physical items.

Here are some of the things that you may need when submitting your application to the permit department:

  • Signed approval from the property’s owner—either you or the landlord
  • Site plan from a licensed surveyor. This is typically needed for any freestanding signs. You can receive a copy from the landlord if you do not have one already.
  • Plans with a seal of approval from a licensed engineer
  • Planning board or Special Improvement board approval
  • Zoning application form
  • Sign mock-ups or designs, supplied by your sign contractor
  • Building and/or electrical application form, should your signs be illuminated
  • You may also be asked to show all other business permits that you have applied for or received

Payment of Fees

Once you have submitted your application, you will have to pay a small fee. Depending on your restaurant’s location, the cost of the permit application will vary. Most of the time the cost ranges between $20-$60 per sign.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sign Permits

Now that you know the general process to receiving permission for installing signage around your restaurant, here are some other things to consider:

How long does the process take?

Typically, the process will take anywhere between 2 to 4 weeks. For example, in New Jersey, the zoning department will take at least 10 days to review your application. Then the building department takes around 20 business days. However, this can change depending on the current amount of work the departments have to accomplish.

For this reason, you should always plan ahead and allow for time when applying for sign permits.

What can I do if I need signage right away?

If you need a sign as soon as possible, then you can use a temporary sign. Although some municipalities require permits for temporary signs, some places do not. Double check with the local government to see what is required.

What factors may affect the sign permit process?

The process to receiving permission to put up signs on the inside and outside of your restaurant can be frustrating and long. If you are not used to applying for permits, it is easy to make a mistake or misinterpret certain rules and regulations. Plus, you are at the mercy of the zoning officers and the planning board.

Other factors that affect the duration of the permit process include:

Additional reviews. Some towns have special committees that need to look at sign permit applications as well. For instance, if you are constructing a restaurant near a historical landmark, the historical commission may need to approve of your design. Because of these additional reviews, the process can be drawn out.

If you request a sign variance, the process is usually much more expensive, requires a lawyer, and may drag out for several months.


Any commercial signage requires a sign permit to be installed. When it comes to opening a restaurant, you already have several permits to receive before opening the doors, so do not forget about sign permits! Luckily, most sign contractors are able to help with the process and can get help eliminate any snags in the process. Once you have your permits, the only thing left is for your signs to be crafted and installed. We hope that you have a understanding of what you need to know about restaurant sign permits.

Interested in signage for your restaurant? Have questions about obtaining your sign permit? Let us help! Contact Tupp Signs today or fill out the contact form. We will be in touch.