Permanent Signs on Private Property

You may have to apply for a permit before installing a permanent sign on your property.

The Permanent Signs on Private Property By-law (No. 2016-326) regulates the design, construction, installation, relocation, alteration, and repair of permanent signs located on private property in the City of Ottawa. Temporary signs are governed by a different by-law.

Before you apply for a sign permit, you need to know your property’s zoning, since different sign permissions apply in different zones. Find or confirm your zoning through the “How to find your zoning” section of the Comprehensive Zoning By-law.

Questions? Call 613-580-2424, ext. 41162, or email

Before you begin

Permanent signs not requiring permits

The following signs do not require permits:

  • Official signs
  • Awning signs
  • Electronic fuel pump signs
  • Non-electronic fuel pump island signs less than 3.5 m above grade and 0.5 m2 in area
  • Non-illuminated information signs less than 1 m2 in area
  • Non-illuminated window signs
  • Farm signs and directional farm signs not exceeding 4 m2 in area
  • Wall signs on a temporary sales centre building
  • Rural village pedestrian directional signs
  • Mural signs

Prohibited permanent signs

The following signs are prohibited:

  • Roof signs
  • Signs on sheds, trees, poles, fences, posts, another sign, etc.
  • Signs that imitate, resemble or could be mistaken for a traffic control device or official sign
  • Signs that could obstruct the view or visibility of vehicular or pedestrian traffic, a traffic control device or an official sign
  • Signs that are illuminated, animated or operated in such a way that they constitute a hazardous distraction for vehicular or pedestrian traffic
  • Signs that could, in any manner, endanger a person or property
  • Signs that interfere with electrical light, power or telephone wires
  • Signs that obstruct entry through or egress from windows, doors, fire escapes or emergency exits


Mural signs -– expressions of public art painted directly on the exterior of a building or on a canvas affixed to the building -– do not require a special permit. Instead, murals must be sanctioned by the property owner and must comply with the applicable provisions of the Permanent Signs on Private Property By-Law.

For more information on murals, visit Ottawa’s Mural Program.

Additional approvals

Some situations require addition approvals:

  • Where there is previous Site Plan Control Approval, a new or re-located freestanding ground sign may generate a requirement to revise the approved plan.
  • All signs located within 400 metres and visible from a Provincial Highway must obtain a Ministry of Transportation sign permit prior to City of Ottawa approval.
  • Signs in the Parliamentary Precinct, Confederation Boulevard and Rideau Canal Special Sign District (shown in Schedule D of the by-law) require confirmation, in the form of a written statement, from the National Capital Commission (NCC) that they do not detract from, interfere with or obstruct the views of these landmarks.
  • Signs proposed for heritage buildings may require heritage approval by the Planning Department.
  • Sign structures that exceed the scope of the by-law will require a building permit.
  • Professionally engineered drawings may be required for free standing ground sign structures, wall signs and canopy signs depending on the size, weight and height.


Building Code Service counters are open for personal services by appointment only

For clients wishing to submit applications, make payments or pick up permits, visit a Building Code Service Counter or make an appointment on the scheduler

A permit is required before constructing, relocating, renovating or installing a sign. Your submission package must include the following:

Questions can be directed to or 613-580-2424 ext. 41162.