Public Way Use


**As of March 1, 2022, sidewalk signs (e.g A-frame, T-frame, or other temporary self-supporting type signs, placed on the public way) are allowed in the City of Chicago only if they have obtained the proper City permit.  The City permit application for sidewalk signs is available by visiting the City of Chicago’s Inspections, Permitting & Licensing web portal

A sidewalk sign is not allowed within the Central Business District, as such district is defined in MCC Section 9-4-010. “Central Business District” means the district consisting of those streets or parts of streets within the area bounded by a line as follows: beginning at the easternmost point of Division Street extended to Lake Michigan; then west on Division Street to LaSalle Street; then south on LaSalle Street to Chicago Avenue; then west on Chicago Avenue to Halsted Street; then south on Halsted Street to Roosevelt Road; then east on Roosevelt Road to its easternmost point extended to Lake Michigan; including parking spaces on both sides of the above-mentioned streets.

BACP has hosted an informational webinar to provide an overview of the sidewalk sign permit application.  Watch the webinar by visiting

All BACP Public Way Use permit accounts and transactions have been migrated into the City of Chicago’s Inspections, Permitting & Licensing web portal.  This new web portal improves the efficiency and effectiveness of Public Way Use permitting by allowing applicants and existing permittees to apply for new permits, renew existing permits, and pay fees (annual and outstanding debt) online. 

Existing permittees will need to create an account and log into the online portal in order to claim their existing permits and manage their account.

The BACP Public Way Use permitting web portal includes tutorials on how to create an account and claim a permit. Additionally, please visit this page for more information on how to obtain a sidewalk cafe permit

Hardcopy invoices for annual permit fees will no longer be mailed; all future invoices will instead be emailed and communicated through this new portal.  As always, failure to pay permit fees or outstanding debt in a timely manner may result in penalties, including holds placed on the permittee’s business license(s). 

If you have questions related to creating a web account or facilitating your transaction, please reach out to BACP’s Public Way Use division at or (312) 744-5430.

If your business has a sign, canopy, awning, bench, or anything that extends over, under or is on the public way, it requires a Public Way Use permit issued by the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). Sidewalk Cafés require a Public Way Use permit, too.


In addition to a Public Way Use permit, all business identifiers such as signs, awnings, canopies and banners are required to have a Department of Buildings sign construction permit. Most signs must be installed by a general contractor or electrical contractor licensed by the City of Chicago.

For temporary use of the public way related to construction, applicants must obtain a Construction Canopy Permit from the Chicago Department of Transportation. Information about this permitting process is available here.

Chi Biz Strong Initiative: Public Way Use Permitting Process Reform
This collaborative reform initiative, effective January 1, 2022, saves small business owners up to 60 days in the Public Way Use Permitting process.


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