A Zoning Division sign permit is required before any sign or advertising is erected, displayed, replaced, refaced or its dimensions altered. You can find more information on when a sign permit is required by reviewing Article 13. Signs of the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance (ACZO).
Every application for a sign permit shall be accompanied by plans showing the area of the sign, the size, and design proposed; the method of lighting and level of illumination, if any; and the exact location proposed for the sign. A sign permit for a permanent sign can be approved or rejected within five (5) business days if all supporting documentation is complete and submitted with the permit application. Incomplete applications are subject to rejection, longer approval times, and additional review.
Applicants are strongly advised to research whether their site is subject to special exceptions such as Site Plan conditions, a Comprehensive Sign Plan, or Use Permit for Signs. Applications for sites which are subject to these special exceptions must be accompanied by information explaining how the proposed sign complies with the conditions in the special exception. If a tenant is unsure whether they are subject to a special exception for signs, they should consult their landlord or attorney prior to filing.
A Certificate of Occupancy (CO) application must be filed before a sign permit application can be processed for a given business. There are no variances allowed for signs under the current Zoning Ordinance.
When applying for a sign placed below 40 ft., please provide the following:
PRINT/DOWNLOAD: Sign Permit Application
- Letter of consent from the property owner listed in the tax records of Arlington County, if they are not the same entity as the applicant. An authorized agent may provide consent on behalf of the owner, provided that they submit documentation showing their authorization to do so. Attorneys licensed in Virginia may communicate consent on behalf of a client, and self-certify that they are authorized to do so.
- Two pictures/drawings of the proposed sign including dimensions
- Two drawings showing proposed sign placement on building (please include entire frontage of building)
- Two copies of plans for attachment or structures (to scale)
- Illumination specifications, including location of a dimming controller switch
- Photo of existing signs (showing entire frontage/elevation of building)
- Plat showing proposed location of freestanding sign and distance from property lines or any public ways
- A copy of the site’s Comprehensive Sign Plan, if there is one, with the proposed sign clearly indicated
- Administrative Change Form (if applicable)
- Administrative change fee (if applicable)
- Sign permit fee
When applying for a sign placed above 40 ft., please provide the documents listed above, plus the following:
- Certification by an engineer or other qualified professional licensed and practicing in Virginia that the proposed sign will comply with luminance standards in the Zoning Ordinance. Permits are not issued for signs above 40’ until this certification is provided
- Illumination specifications, including hours of illumination
- An analysis of whether the sign faces Line A and/or B on Zoning Ordinance Map 13-1 (formerly Map 34-1)
- If the proposed sign will face Line A on Map 13-1, then the applicant should provide evidence that the sign will be substantially blocked (by buildings or other obstructions) from the residential districts specified in Article 13’s Placement Standards for Signs Above a Height of 40 Feet.
- Elevation drawings showing the height of the building, height of the sign (measured from natural grade to the bottom of the sign), the distance from the bottom of the the sign to the actual roofline (i.e. not parapets or penthouses), and the width of the façade upon which the sign is proposed to be placed
- Any relevant legislative history such as Site Plan Amendments or Use Permits
- Two copies of an Administrative Change application packet (and fee) if the property is subject to a Site Plan and there has not been a prior approval for the sign through either the Site Plan Amendment or Administrative Change processes
PRINT/DOWNLOAD: Sign Permit Application