All signs on private property in Vancouver require sign permits except:
- Signs containing only the building number and street name
- Signs located within a building, if the sign cannot be seen from the street ; however, these signs may require a building permit and an electrical permit if they are lit
- Signs related to traffic, parking, directions, bus shelters, and so on if those signs are authorized by the City Engineer
You will need a permit for any sign type described in the Definitions section of the Sign Bylaw. If a sign type is not described in the Sign Bylaw, it is not allowed. Depending on the type of sign, you may need a sign permit, awning permit, billboard permit, and building permit. For more information, view the Sign Bylaw or contact the Development and Building Services Centre.
If the property is on the Vancouver Heritage Register, a heritage alteration permit is also needed. You can apply for that permit at the same time as the sign permit.
To apply for a sign permit, you need to submit:
- A completed application form
- An unaltered photo of the building elevation or property frontage where you want the sign to go
- An original copy of an Owner's Undertaking Letter
- Two copies of each of the following drawings:
- A dimensioned site / floor plan
- A dimensioned elevation drawing
- A text or copy drawing
- A partial section of the building, showing the location where you want the sign to go
See the information sheet for the specific requirements for these drawings.
We may require additional information if you are applying for a permit for these types of signs:
- All free-standing signs
- All facia signs located 15 ft (4.5 m) or more above ground
- All signs weighing more than 200 lbs (91 kg) including the combined weight of the channel letters
- All fixed-frame and retractable awnings
- Projecting signs weighing more than 50 lbs (22 kg)
- Canopy signs penetrating an I-beam or similar structural element of a canopy
- Any other signs where City staff are concerned with the structural integrity of the sign
Process and timeline
You can submit your application and supporting documents by mail or courier, or in person.
If your application is complete and falls within the requirements of the bylaw, your permit will be issued once all of the documents are reviewed. That usually takes about 1 week.
If your application does not fall within the requirements of the bylaw, it will be refused. At that point you can either modify your application so that it conforms to the bylaw, or you can appeal the decision to the Board of Variance.
You have 30 days after the refusal is issued to appeal to the Board of Variance. If you choose to appeal to the refusal, the Board of Variance will make a decision in 1 to 2 months.
If your appeal to the Board of Variance is refused, you can modify your application and submit revised drawings, or you can start over. If you choose to modify your application, no new fees will apply as long as your revised drawings are submitted within 3 months.