Commercial Advertising Sign (On premises)

Sign Administration - HPWCODE1112
Houston Public Works
Sign Administration

1002 Washington Ave., 4th Floor
Houston, TX 77002

8 am to 4:30 pm
Plan Review
$61.51 (Minimum Operating Fee)
Admin fee
Plan review fee
Inspection fee
Renewal fee
$61.51 (Minimum Operating Renewal)
Late Fee
15% of renewal fee
Valid Period
1 year (See Conditions & Exceptions)
Processing Time
4 to 11 business days


The Houston Sign Code regulates on-premises commercial advertising signs that are visible from the public right of way (i.e., alleys, streets & sidewalks). These are the everyday exterior business signs which display names and/or logos, or advertise goods, services or merchandise sold or offered for sale on the premises where the sign is installed. (Note: Off-premises advertising is prohibited.)

The Houston Sign Code allows up to five [5] signs per business. This is usually a combination of Ground, Projecting, Wall and/or Marquee Signs. Each business is limited to one [1] Ground or Projecting sign per frontage, for a maximum of two [2] Ground or Projecting signs total. If a business has more than 350 feet along a single frontage, then two [2] Ground or Projecting Signs can be allowed along that frontage, as long as the two [2] signs are at least 350 feet apart. No more than four [4] wall signs are allowed. No more than three [3] marquee signs are allowed.

The Houston Sign Code does not require that anyone be licensed to sell signs. It does not require that anyone be licensed to manufacture signs. However, licensure is required to install signs or to do sign work for other people in the field. If the business owner hires someone else to do the work, that person or company must be a licensed sign contractor. The licensed sign contractor will permit & perform the work.

After Approval

Do not remove the final tag from the sign. Sign permits are completely and entirely non-transferrable (ex: location to location, sign to sign, wall to wall). It is the responsibility of the sign owner to keep their billing address up to date with the City of Houston.

Conditions & Exceptions
  • Total fees based on fixed & minimum fees, then size, illumination & changeable message sign designation.
  • All fees cover the first 32 sq. ft.
  • Fee of 49¢ per additional sq. ft. or fraction thereof exceeding 32 sq. ft. for Construction & Operating (Construction typically calculated on a single vertical plane; operating charged per-face.)
  • Minimum Construction Fee $85.88
  • Minimum Operating Permit Fee $61.34.
  • Changeable Message Sign per Face annual registration fee: $85.88
  • Minimum Sign Electrical Permit Fee: $83


Valid Period

  • Operating permits renew annually.
  • Construction permits are valid for 180 days from the date of the Site Inspection. If the work cannot be completed within the 180 days, a one-time, 180 day extension can be purchased - but only before the construction permit lapses. (If the construction permit lapses before the 180-day extension is purchased, then all permits are null & void, and new application must be made.) The 180-day extension fee is half of the total original fees, plus the Administrative Fee.
Statutory Authority
What You Need
  • Complete the General Prerequisites Requirements checklist
  • Complete and notarize the On-Premise Sign Permit application
  • Complete an Electrical Building Permit Application, if applicable
  • Compile a complete & acceptable plan set in accordance with the General Prerequisites Requirements checklist
Apply Online

Contractors only; no individuals 

  1. If you do not have an iPermits account, complete the iPermits Acknowledgement Form and create your account.
  2. Complete online application via iPermits.
  3. Pay fees (advanced pay account [APA] recommended; e-check or credit card accepted).
  4. Receive email from ProjectDox® system ([email protected]) with Upload Task Assignment.
  5. Log in to ProjectDox® to upload documents and drawings.
  6. When done, mark the upload task as complete to notify Sign Administration that the plans are ready for review.
Conditions & Exceptions

Signs are typically permitted and installed by a licensed sign contractor.

Business owners can permit & install their own non-electrical signs under limited circumstances: Ground Signs no larger than 60 sq. ft. in size & no taller than 8 feet; Wall Signs no higher above grade than 16 feet. (Note: Wall Signs higher above grade than 8 feet or larger than 60 sq. ft. in size require sealed engineered drawings and analysis.)

Informational Letter 0016-2009-A - Clarifications on Engineering Requirements

Under no circumstance may a business owner permit the work & contract it out to a third party.  Permits are only issued to whoever is doing the work: Either a licensed sign contractor, or a business owner under the aforementioned conditions

Signs on county toll roads within City limits require dual permits & county permits must be secured first, with a copy of the county permit (or letter declining the option to permit) in the application packet.

What You Need

Submit the items required in accordance with the General Prerequisites Requirements checklist (contractors): General Prerequisites for Plan Review

Submit Plans Online
  1. Once an online application is submitted and the fees are paid, an invitation to upload plans into ProjectDox is automatically sent via email. If you are a first time user, a user name and password will be included in the invitation.
  2. Once logged-in to ProjectDox, select the task; eForm will open.
  3. Upload your plans and documents/photos into the appropriate folders.
  4. Return to the eForm and mark the task as completed.
Submit Plans in Person

For real-time review (individuals only):

  1. Obtain a ticket for Sign Administration Permits from one of the four kiosks located on the 1st floor at 1002 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX 77002. 
  2. Proceed to the 4th floor and scan ticket in the lobby.
  3. Once your number is called, present your application packet to the plan reviewer. 
  4. Receive a sales order.
What You Need

Site Inspection:

  1. Once plans are preliminarily approved, the site inspection is performed to confirm that the scope of work and the business situs is and will remain code-compliant.
  2. Upon approval of the site inspection, a Sr. Inspector will notify the contractor that the Site is approved and that the Site Verification Sheet (SVS) and Permits are granted web access.
  3. The contractor accesses these via the iPermits portal.
  4. Commencement of the permitted work may begin, including scheduling any applicable in-progress inspections.

In-progress Inspections:

  1. For electrical signs, a shop inspection must be completed and approved. (Electrical Inspections:  832-394-8860)
  2. For most ground signs, a foundation/footing/hole inspection is required. (Sign Administration: 832-394-8890)
  3. After installation, complete an electrical final inspection (Electrical Inspections), if needed.
  4. A construction final inspection (Sign Administration) must be completed and approved in order to receive the tag.
Schedule Online

Sign electrical inspections cannot be scheduled online. Sign Administration in-progress inspections cannot be scheduled online.  However, Sign Administration construction final inspections may be requested via email at [email protected].

Schedule by Phone
  • Site inspections are a natural result of a successful plan review and do not need to be scheduled.
  • For all other sign inspections, call 832-394-8890. Please have your project number ready.
  • For sign electrical inspections, call 832-394-8860.
Conditions & Exceptions
  • Sign Administration construction final inspections may be requested via email at [email protected].
  • Electrical and in-progress inspections are conducted the next business day.
  • It may take up to seven [7] business days to conduct the construction final inspection.
  • If any inspection is failed, a re-inspection fee may be charged.
What You Need
  1. Thirty (30) days prior to the renewal date, an invoice will be mailed to the billing address listed on the application.
  2. Submit payment
  3. Receive renewal certificate via mail.
Renew Online

If the business and/or sign is no longer in operation, please annotate such on the renewal notice and mail the annotated renewal notice back to Sign Administration.

• Sign Operating Permits renew annually & are invoiced via mail. Renewals cannot be billed or paid in advance of annual invoicing. Late payments may incur additional fees.  Instructions for paying sign operating permit renewals online are here.

• To pay sign operating permit renewals online, click the Renew button below. 

Renew by Mail

Submit a designated copy of the renewal notice and an acceptable form
of payment (personal check, cashier's check, or money order) to:

City of Houston - Sign Administration
P.O. Box 2688
Houston, TX 77252-2688

If the business and/or sign is no longer in operation, please annotate such on the renewal notice and mail the annotated renewal notice back to Sign Administration.

Conditions & Exceptions

Permit Renewals are strictly for the business that is operating the sign(s).

If the business and/or sign is no longer in operation, please annotate such on the renewal notice and mail the annotated renewal notice back to Sign Administration.

To request a billing address change, complete an Address/Name Change Form (link forthcoming) & bring it to the Sign Administration office, or mail it to:

City of Houston - Sign Administration
P.O. Box 2688
Houston, TX 77252-2688

There is a fee of $112.95 per business location to complete the change(s).