Step by step

Permit process for existing awnings and signs (available for a limited time)

Follow this simplified process to get a permit for an existing awning and/or sign with most fees waived.

Key Information

This simplified, temporary process enables property owners to:

  • Obtain a permit for an existing awning and/or sign without a licensed contractor or awning installer
  • Abate notices of violation for unpermitted awnings

There are no permit fees, inspection fees or penalty fees assessed for awning permits obtained using this temporary process. Some modest state fees and local fees/surcharges still apply.

Applicants can submit up to two building permit applications to legalize their existing awnings during an Over-the-Counter (OTC) review session. Anyone can apply for and pay for a permit application but permits can only be issued to the property owner, a California-licensed contractor, or an authorized agent for either of them.

Any corrective work will require a standard permit with plans but the permit fees, inspection fees and penalty fees will still be waived.

New uninstalled awnings or signs cannot use this process and should follow the standard new sign/awning permit process. All new or additional awning installation/construction must be performed by a licensed contractor or awning installer.

Review the following information to fill out the right forms and prepare the required photo documentation. Watch a how-to video in English, Spanish, Chinese, or Filipino. For additional permitting assistance, please visit the Permit Center Help Desk at 49 South Van Ness or contact the Office of Small Business.

This is a temporary process to help property owners legalize existing awnings and signs. Permits issued through this temporary process must be completed within one year. No permit extensions will be granted.


Fill out the required forms, templates and develop the photo documentation

To get a permit for your existing awning and/or sign, you will need to submit:

  • Property Owners Package documenting that you are the building owner or representative
  • A Form 4/7
    • Note: You must fill out the form 3/8 Permit Application if you are responding to a notice of violation for an unpermitted awning or sign.
  • A dimensioned photograph with information about your existing awning or sign.
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Fill out forms about your role on the project

We need to know your role on the project to apply for an Over-the-counter (OTC) permit.

See: Who can obtain a building permit

Pick the form that applies to you.


Print the appropriate form and bring it with you when apply for a sign permit.

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Provide dimensioned photos documenting your awning information

You will need to provide dimensioned photos with labels documenting your awning size, weight, location, type of wall, and how the awning is attached to the wall of the building.


Photos need to be printed on 11”x17” paper. Two copies of the photos are required with your permit application.


Be sure to include the scope of work including notice of violation number (if applicable), property address, awning dimensions, whether the awning is illuminated. 


Other information required to be printed on the photographs:

1.   Width of awning.

2.   Height of lettering on awning.

3.   Height of awning valance (loose fabric hanging off the frame) above the sidewalk (if applicable). A minimum of 7' is the code requirement. 

4.   Height of awning frame above the sidewalk. A minimum of 8' is the code requirement. 

5.   Depth of awning.

6.   Width of the sidewalk, measured from the building to the edge of the curb.

7.   Size and number of attachments (anchors) at the top of the awning. Be sure to include the number, diameter, and depth of anchor (if available). 

8.   Size and number of attachments (anchors) at the bottom of the awning. Be sure to include the number, diameter, and depth of anchor (if available). 

Please note that the wall attachments must be the appropriate anchor (generally a screw or extension bolt) for the wall type, such as wood, masonry, steel or concrete.

9.   If the building has a fire escape above the awning, show and label an awning flap to accommodate a drop down ladder.

10. Indicate if any of the windows on the floors above the commercial unit open into a bedroom.

If yes, provide the height of the bottom of the window sill to the sidewalk for each window on each floor up to the third story. Only measure up to the third story if there are more than three floors.

If no, indicate that the windows above the commercial spare are not bedroom windows.

Click here for a sample labeled, dimensioned photo.

Chinese  Spanish  Tagalog

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Fill out a sign permit application

Fill out the form 4/7 Sign Permit Application.

Write "To comply with Awning Amnesty Program" in Box (12) Plot Plan and Elevation.

Illuminated signs also require an electrical permit

Sample completed form 4/7 Sign Permit.

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Fill out the building permit application, if necessary

Fill out the form 3/8 Permit Application if you are responding to a notice of violation for an unpermitted awning. Otherwise, this form is not required under the temporary existing awning permit process.

Write "To comply with Awning Amnesty Program" in Box (16) - Description of all work to be performed under this application.

Sample completed form 3/8 Permit Application to legalize existing permit without any additional work.

Sample completed form 3/8 Permit Application to remove an existing awning.

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Submit your owner’s package, awning permit template, form 4/7, dimensioned photographs, and, if necessary, form 3/8

Come to the Permit Center to apply for an Over the counter (OTC) permit. 

You will get a sign permit application number. 

We will route your application and documentation to the required permit review stations. You will carry your application and other documents to each permit review station and review your project with staff. You may need to come back on a separate day to finish the permit process.

We will then review your sign permit application and check your labeled and dimensioned photos. We will inform you of the additional forms and information you need to provide and help you determine any outstanding information.

Once the permit station review is complete, you will be issued a job card and permit number.

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Get your awning inspected

Call DBI for a final inspection of your existing awning to close the permit and / or resolve a notice of violation.

Illuminated signs also require a separate electrical inspection.

Awnings with unsafe conditions will receive comments on their job card and a note in the Permit Tracking System (PTS) requiring the condition be brought up to code before the permit is finalized.


Schedule an inspection of your installed awning.

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Last updated June 5, 2024