Public Way Use

Items associated with a property that are on, over, or under the public way (streets, sidewalks, and parkways) such as signs, canopies, awnings, and lighting require a BACP public way use permit.

All BACP Public Way Use permitting occurs through the City of Chicago’s Inspections, Permitting & Licensing web portal. Use the web portal to apply for new permits, renew existing permits, and pay fees (annual and outstanding debt) online.

Categories of Public Way Use Permits:

1) Over the public way (canopies, awnings, signs, light fixtures, security cameras balconies, banners, bay windows)

2) On the public way (planters, pavers, bollards, windscreens, fences, kiosks, sidewalk cafes, sidewalk signs, trash containers, benches)

3) Under the public way (vaults, conduits, caissons, earth retention systems, irrigation systems, grease basins, grease separators)

Other Permit Requirements
In addition to a BACP 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.

How to Apply

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. Businesses that require a public way use permit but are licensed through a unit of government other than the City of Chicago can create a public way use permit account by filling out a Business Information Sheet and submitting it as part of the permit application.

Payment and Renewal
Public way use permits are valid for five years (except for sidewalk cafes, which have a one-year permit term), and permittees are billed each year. Generally liability insurance must be re-submitted via the portal and remain current each year for the permit to remain valid. At the end of the five-year term, the permit must be renewed through the portal.

Invoices are emailed and communicated through the permitting portal. 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 account.

For public way use inquiries, email BACP’s Public Way Use division at


Department Main Office

Business Affairs and Consumer Protection

I Want To