DOB Outdoor Advertising Regulations

Think of Times Square and what comes to mind? A few of those visuals may include people, street performers, taxis, buildings, and signage. Lots of digital signage. As outdoor advertising has evolved with technology, high-traffic (both foot and automobile) areas across New York City are seeing more and more digital signage competing for attention.

Outdoor digital signage isn’t an isolated form of signage experiencing increased popularity. Commercial, public, and construction signage are all undergoing changes to capture the attention of passersby. As the needs for larger, illuminated and impactful signage continues to evolve, it’s important for developers, construction foremen, and business owners to understand what is and isn’t permitted when it comes to outdoor display advertising.

Advertising Signs

The definition of an advertising sign is as follows:

A sign that directs attention to goods or services at a location other than the premises where the sign is located.

According to the DOB, advertising signs are only permitted in certain zoning districts in NYC.

Outdoor Advertising Companies

Any individual or entity engaged in the outdoor advertising business is required to register as Outdoor Advertising Companies (OACs) with the DOB. During registration, OACs are to include a detailed inventory of every sign, sign structure, and sign location under its control and is located:

Failure to register could result in fines up to $25,000 per day as well as the loss of the ability to bid on City contracts. OACs that fail to register signs near arterial highways and public parks are subject to fines, removal of signs, and the revocation of their OAC status.

Required Permits for Installing a Sign

All signs, whether considered advertising or non-advertising, must comply with the regulations set forth in the Zoning Resolution and Building Code. The following permits are required for installing a sign:

  • Construction Permit is required from the DOB, however signs that are painted or smaller than six square feet and not illuminated do not require a permit.
  • Electrical Permit is required for any sign requiring electrical connection. These permits are filed by a licensed electrician and issued by the Electrical Unit in each of the Department’s borough offices.
  • Illuminated Sign Permit is required if the sign is to be illuminated in any way. This type of sign requires the permit to be renewed annually, and owners of illuminated signs that extend beyond the building line will be automatically billed for an Annual Illuminated Sign Permit.

Once the proper permit has been obtained, all signs must be hung by a licensed sign hanger. The DOB list of licensed sign hangers can be found here.

Digital signage will continue to increase in popularity. Ensure your knowledge of outdoor advertising regulations is up to date and lessen the risk of penalty and/or the removal of your sign by applying for and obtaining the correct signage permits. Let the experienced experts at Milrose Consultants assist you through the process.

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