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Business Signs – Sign Permits and Installation

Dimensional Sign Lettering

Are signs for business a clutter? How to get a sign permit and install your business’ new signage.

Question: If you move signage off the highways, won’t it just clutter municipalities instead?

This is a hot topic amongst sign makers and those who are trying to find a businesses by locating the business’s sign.

signage lettering displays for company establishments There is a small but vocal minority of people who think that business is of the devil, and that signs are the business’s bible, and because in their view they are ugly, they should be done away with. These are the same people who don’t mind if you starve to death, but dammit, let’s save the snail darter.

Signs in Central America

Having lived in Central America, I understand both a plethora of signs and a lack of signs, all at the same time. Managua, Nicaragua, for instance, as almost no street signs, but it’s made up for by a multitude of business signs that are the locators of everything else. Of course, it helps to be able to read Spanish.

Signs in 3rd World Countries

The reason 3rd World Countries, or now euphemistically called “Developing Nations,” are growing economically is because business is allowed to grow, virtually unhindered by bureaucrats. Of course, whiners from the advanced nations will trumpet the lack of safety (no problem – lawyers don’t sue for damages much in 3rd World Countries), and yes, there are more accidental deaths, but in Managua, for instance, pedestrian traffic, unless intoxicated, know exactly where you are and the drivers, which have the right of way in most instances, know where they are. They are very street smart.

Having Your Own Business Sign

And anyone can operate a business out of their home. Dentists, doctors, lawyers, and even grocery stores. It’s not a panacea, but the economies in many of these countries are growing at 6%, while the US and Europe, for the most part, are languishing around 0% growth, and even that is doubtful.

So, if you want to whine about cluttering things up with signs, you’re asking the wrong guy.

Question: I’ve just opened a B&B and want to erect a sign. Can I do that?

Wow! You opened your business and now you’re asking about a sign? I guess, because I’m in the business, I would always research various potential issues with a property before opening a business. Marketing and advertising are the first questions that should be asked about any business, and a sign is in that category.

Custom Wood Signage However, your question is now the pressing issue, so you need to contact a sign professional and ask some questions. If you’re in a residential area in a major urban center, expect that they will tell you what type of sign you’re allowed to have. Most likely they’ll require an attractive sign that doesn’t disturb the neighbors, maybe a front-lighted sandblasted or carved sign, or an HDU sign with metal letters attached.

If you’re in a mixed business and residential area, you may be able to expand on that theme a bit. They may allow a low monument sign, possibly even internally illuminated, but again, check with the city or county you are subject to, or a local sign professional, and they should be able to help you out.

Question: Where can I get an application for a sign permit?

In most municipalities and counties in the US, you would go to the building department. They’ll want to know your exact location including parcel number, although if you give them the address, they can usually pull it up on their computer. This will tell them the zone you’re in (commercial, office, residential, etc.), and what size and type of sign is allowed. They’ll give you a permit application if you ask for it.


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Barry K. Brown

Barry Brown has been in the Sign, Banner, Decal and Display Business for over 20 years. It isn't what he thought he'd do with his life, but he says he knows too much now to do anything else!

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