If you have any questions about signs in Toronto, please contact the Sign By-law Unit and our staff will be happy to assist you. Here are some of the most common questions about signs, which may provide the answer you are looking for.

Any time a sign is installed on a building or into the ground, a Sign and Building Permit is required. Window Signs, Topiary Signs and Painted Wall Signs would not require a Building Permit, but still require a Sign Permit.

Sign / Building Permits allow staff to confirm that the construction work being proposed meets the requirements set out in the Ontario Building Code, and complies with the Sign By-law. This helps keep the public safe and limits the impact on residents and surrounding properties.

The minimum fee for a Sign Permit is $309.30, but the fee is based on the size and type of sign. Once a Sign Permit is issued, there is no additional cost unless the permit needs to be renewed annually (development signs) or every five years (third party signs).

The Sign-Related Fees page has a full list of fees.

The standard turnaround time for a Sign Permit is 10 business days. If the Examiner finds that variances are required or the proposed sign does not comply with the Sign By-law, a Notice will be sent via email to the applicant and the permit application will be put “on hold” until the issues are addressed.

There is a Fast Track option for Sign Permits, which has a two-day turnaround. The requirements for Fast Track applications are Engineer-stamped drawings and no deficiencies or additional approvals such as Heritage, Ministry of Transportation or TRCA approval.

Putting up a sign without the required Sign Permit or approvals can result in a fine of $305, issuing a charge to appear in Court, and/or the removal of the sign at the expense of the property owner.

There are also administrative fees which apply when an application is made after the sign has been put up.

Window Signs are permitted in all Sign Districts except Residential and Residential Apartment, and do not require a Sign Permit as long as:

  • they do not display copy electronically – such as LED signs
  • they do not exceed 25% of the window area
  • they only display first party copy; and
  • they are not located above the second storey of the building.

Window Signs that are displayed electronically, exceed 25% of the window area, contain third party copy or are displayed above the second storey would require a Sign Variance approval, followed by the issuance of a Sign Permit.

The best way to check on the status of your application is to contact your Examiner. There is also an online Building Permit Status page you can check from your computer or smartphone.

Check Permit Status

 

Only electronic applications are accepted, either via email to signbylawunit@toronto.ca or in person at our front counter. The fees can be paid by debit, credit card or certified cheque if the amount is under $2,000.00. Cheques should be made out to “Treasurer, City of Toronto”.

We also accept credit card payments over the phone. Please call our main line at 416-392-8000.

A Revision Permit is required when the attachment details for a sign (into a building wall or into the ground) have changed, the size or method of copy has changed, or the sign has to be re-located from where it was originally proposed.

In this case, you would submit a Revision Permit application to our intake team. This would include new application forms detailing the revision and revised drawings / plans. There is a flat fee of $309.30 for this application.

Each property in Toronto has been assigned a Sign District based on use and surrounding area, and each Sign District has its own set of regulations within the Sign By-law.

For example, larger signs and signs with electronic copy are permitted within Commercial Sign Districts, but not in Residential or Open Space Sign Districts.

Our SignView mapping tool allows you to type an address into the search bar to identify the Sign District for the property, and view the applicable regulations.

Our SignView mapping tool allows you to type an address into the search bar to identify the Sign District for the property, and view the applicable regulations.

There is also a “measure” tool located within the legend along the left side of the page. If you select the icon that resembles a ruler with two arrows above, you can click on a spot on the map, drag to another spot and get an approximate measurement. This is useful when determining the distance from a proposed sign to other signs, intersections, sensitive land uses and surrounding properties.

There is also an option to view the map from a satellite image perspective, by using the “Aerial” drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the map.

Another helpful tool is the scroll function on the map, which allows you to see the property lines (shown as pink lines) when you zoom in close enough on a property or area. This can be helpful when determining the setback of signs.

Sign Permits can qualify for a Fast Track review, which has a turnaround period of two days, when certain conditions are met:

  • There are a maximum of three signs and/or sign structures proposed;
  • All signs and/or sign structures included in the application must be designed by a professional architect or engineer and are stamped or sealed accordingly; and,
  • The application can not be for a property or sign where approvals would be required from:
      • Ministry of Transportation;
      • Toronto and Region Conservation Authority;
      • Heritage Preservation Services;
      • General Manager of Transportation Services; or,
      • Tree Preservation Services, Parks Forestry and Recreation.

As per Section 694-17A(1) of the Sign By-law, any sign that is located, in whole or in part, in a public right of way requires written approval from the General Manager, Transportation Services.

Where a sign is located in part, or encroaches into, a public right of way, Sign By-law Unit staff will circulate the  application to Transportation Services, Right of Way Management, for the district where the sign is located, as part of the review process. Once the sign permit has been issued, you are required to contact Transportation Services, Right-of-Way Management for the district where the sign is located to obtain either an encroachment agreement or other written approval for the sign. Failure to obtain approval may result in non-compliance with the Sign By-law and the revocation of your sign permit.

If the sign requires an encroachment agreement, an additional fee may be required. Encroachment agreements vary in cost between $400 and $2,000 or more, and may also require the payment of annual fees depending on the nature of the encroachment. For more information regarding encroachment agreement fees, please contact Transportation Services, Right of Way Management, for the district where the sign is located.

Every person who wishes to temporarily occupy a street for purposes that do not involve either street work, or a street event as described in Article II of Chapter 743, shall submit an application to the General Manager, Transportation Services requesting permission to temporarily occupy a street.

For more information on temporary street occupation, please contact Transportation Services, Right of Way Management, for the district where the sign is located.