How To Navigate Permitting for Outdoor LED Signs

How To Navigate Permitting for Outdoor LED Signs


A lot of planning and consideration goes into implementing a successful outdoor LED display for your business. Even after deciding the type of LED sign you need, what content to display, and where to install your sign, you still need to obtain a permit for your outdoor display.

Local and federal governments have specific regulations about what kind of signs businesses can install. Navigating these regulations is the key to installing an effective outdoor LED display that draws in customers while adhering to local ordinances. Learn more about how to navigate permitting for outdoor LED signs with this guide.

An Introduction to Common LED Signage Regulations

Every town and county has different commercial signage regulations. Checking with your local government will let you know what rules you must follow when implementing your outdoor LED digital sign. While the specifics will change depending on the location of your commercial property, there are a few common regulations you can expect in most areas. Learning these standard guidelines will help you prepare so that you can plan out your LED display successfully.

Sign Height and Size

Size restrictions are among the most common regulations surrounding outdoor digital signage. Some cities enforce height restrictions to prevent commercial signs from dominating the skyline. Others might implement size restrictions to prevent commercial signage from distracting drivers. No matter the reason, it’s important to follow any height and size guidelines in your area.

Keep in mind that these size restrictions might depend on the size or location of your commercial property. For example, if your business is in a smaller property within an outlet mall, local regulations are more likely to require a smaller sign. On the other hand, if you’re in a large, independent property—with plenty of landscaping or parking lot space—it’s often easier to implement a larger sign.

Display Brightness

Most areas also have brightness regulations for outdoor LED displays. These guidelines revolve heavily around safety for drivers—especially at night. Signs that are too bright can distract motorists, which can, in turn, lead to accidents on the road.

Many cities have maximum brightness limits for businesses to adhere to. Others might also require you to dim your sign once the sun goes down so that it isn’t too bright after dark. Investing in LED sign features such as automatic dimming can help you adhere to these guidelines and create a safe, comfortable experience for drivers and passersby.

Some local ordinances will also dictate the use of flashing lights or changing colors on your sign. Similarly, cities or counties might regulate how often you can change the message or content on your sign. Reading up on these specific guidelines will help you make an effective content plan that still adheres to your local signage regulations.

Find Your Specific Ordinances

While learning about general LED signage guidelines can help you know what to expect, it’s important to look up your specific local ordinances before you get too far into planning your digital display. In addition to learning about the specific rules you need to follow, you’ll also gain a better idea of how the permitting process works and what you’ll need to obtain your permit.

You can find your area’s specific signage regulations by checking with your local government. Pay attention to your business’s zoning district, too. The rules may change depending on if you’re in a commercial, industrial, mixed-use, or another type of zoning district. You can also work with your local chamber of commerce to learn more about your area’s regulations and find resources to help you through the permitting process.

Learn From Other Businesses

You can also learn more about your local ordinances by observing other businesses in your area. Even just glancing up and down the street can give you an idea of what signage regulation is like for businesses in your city. If you’re friendly with other business owners in your area, talk to them about their permitting processes and what they had to do before installing their own LED signs. Nothing can replace doing your own research, but talking to other businesses is a good way to learn insider tips and find out more about the permitting process.

Make a Detailed Plan for Your Sign

Once you know what local regulations you need to follow, it’s time to make a detailed plan for your outdoor LED sign. Be sure to consider all signage regulations as you plan where you want to install your sign, how big it will be, what kind of content you will display, and more. Once you have decided on those factors, it’s time to decide on details such as resolution and brightness.

It’s also a good idea to gather any documentation or information you need for the permitting process during this planning stage. Paperwork might include your proposed location for the sign, dimensions of the sign, engineering specifications, which manufacturing and installation companies you’re working with, and more. The more detailed and prepared you are, the easier it will be to get a signage permit from your local government.

Plan for a Long Application Process

The permitting process can vary greatly depending on where you live and when you apply. You might experience a straightforward process that only takes a couple of weeks. However, some processes take much longer than that.

Give yourself plenty of time to obtain your permit, especially if you’re opening a new business. The last thing you want is to delay your grand opening or suffer from poor traffic during the first weeks of your operations because you don’t have a sign in place yet.

Work With an LED Sign Provider You Can Trust

One of the most important tips for navigating the outdoor LED sign permitting process is to work with a trusted LED signage partner. Choosing an experienced and dependable LED sign manufacturer in the USA means working with experts who can help guide you through planning, obtaining a permit, and installing your LED sign.


When you need an LED signage partner you can rely on, turn to Optec Displays. As a top LED sign manufacturer in the USA, we’ll make sure you have a smooth and successful experience as you plan, purchase, and implement your outdoor LED display. Visit us today to learn more about our LED signage solutions.