Is your business planning to obtain or replace a sign? If so, you will need to obtain a sign permit before a new sign or advertising is installed or displayed. This is a multi-step process that takes a minimum of 5 business days to process, depending on the complexity of your sign, so please allow adequate time and resources.

Signs constitute a separate and distinct use of the land upon which the signs are placed and affect the use of streets, sidewalks, other public places, and private places open to the public. Signs should be erected and maintained in a manner which enhances both the dissemination of information and the appearance of the community.

Additionally, the applicant will also need to have filed a Certificate of Occupancy if there is a change in the tenant, business owner, use of space or expansion of the space.

When is a Sign Permit Required?

  • New sign installed or displayed
  • Replacement of existing sign
  • Any sign alterations (including, but not limited to, dimension, wording or location)

Forms and Plans

Sign Permit Process

STEP 1 – Sign Permits are started and issued at the Zoning Division which is located on the 10th floor of 2100 Clarendon Blvd.

STEP 2 – Bring all documentation stated in the Forms and Plans section above.

STEP 3 – A Zoning planner will start the process and accept the sign permit fee. The information on Fees is detailed below.

STEP 4 – The application will be reviewed to ensure that the proposed sign will fully comply with the Zoning Ordinance and any relevant special exceptions.

STEP 5 – The applicant will be contacted once the review is complete.

STEP 6 – Once approved by Zoning, the applicant will return to the Zoning office and pickup the application to take to the Inspection Services Division (ISD), located in the same office as the Zoning Division. ISD staff will assist the applicant in the filing of any required building permit or electrical permit.

STEP 7 – Once ISD has approved the sign application, the applicant will return to Zoning to have their permit issued. New awnings on a special exception site will need to be reviewed as a route-through commercial permit before any sign permits can be issued. Awnings on a special exception site will require a façade change through the Administrative Change process when they are first installed and if any changes are made to fabric, etc. that differs from the original approval.


All Zoning fees can be found in the Zoning Fee Schedule. If the applicant is required to get building or electrical permits, check the ISD Fee Schedule for additional information.

A 5% automation fee will be applied in addition to all fees below.

  • Sign permit for signs up to 100 sq. ft.: $107.00
  • Signs exceeding 100 sq. ft.: $107.00 fee + $1.25 per square foot
  • If applicable, additional fees may be determined if administrative or site plan amendments are required.


The regulations for signage are contained in Article 13 of the Zoning Ordinance. Signs shall be permitted only on private property and not on public property or public easement areas, unless specifically provided for in this section. The unregulated construction, placement, and display of signs constitutes a public nuisance detrimental to the health, safety, convenience, and welfare of the residents of the County. Prohibited signs and other signs not identified in this section shall not be permitted by variance.

The County Board adopted revisions to the Signs Regulation in July 2012.

The amendments were created to:

  • Incorporate best practices and Arlington-specific practices
  • Reformat to a user-friendly design
  • Make the regulations easier to understand, use, administer and enforce
  • Reduce the frequency with which issues require County Board attention
  • Ensure compliance with Virginia Code and other legal requirements
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