If you read our blog post on ADA guidelines that print service providers (PSPs) should know, you know that a business can incur fines of up to $50,000 for sign violations. That’s a hefty price to pay – especially for a small business – and can be easily avoided when PSPs are thoroughly educated on the guidelines.

The same goes for the legality of the signs you make. Cities, counties and states regulate how signs are made and when they are placed, and these regulations can vary widely by location. It’s important that PSPs be familiar with these sign regulations and codes in the areas they serve.

According to an article in Digital Output, “PSPs and sign owners that do not comply with sign codes may face a loss of licenses, expensive daily fines, service disputes, and costs to remove or remake signs.”

Where to Find Legal Information

Two excellent resources to help formalize yourself with regulations are available from SGIA and ISA.

  • Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA): The Government Watch section is an easy-to-understand resource for finding sign codes and zoning rule information. It also outlines the differences between sign types, categories, permits and codes.
  • International Sign Association (ISA): This resource provides in-depth documents that outline sign codes, best practices, guidelines for EMC (electronic message center) signs, and more. These are intended for government officials, so they contain all the complex details you may need.

City-specific sign regulations are typically published on the municipality’s website; however, if no information is available online, contact the city to obtain a copy. For example, a company in Chicago would visit the City of Chicago’s Sign Regulations and Permits webpage.

Being informed and educated about the legality of signs will ensure you produce compliant signs and avoid the cost implications of removing or remaking signs that don’t conform to local regulations.