Business By-laws

Sign By-law

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Signage is important to local businesses and the economy, allowing business and brand identification, and providing communication and marketing opportunities.

The City of Hamilton's Sign By-law currently prohibits digital signs. To keep pace with technological advancements the City is examining the inclusion of digital signs to the existing Sign By-law 10-197.

In May 2022, the City is offering public surveys to both residents and sign industry stakeholders as an opportunity to voice their opinion on the inclusion of digital signs to the existing Sign By-law.

Visit to take the survey

Promotion for Digital Signs for Engage Hamilton Project

Hamilton’s Sign By-law No. 10-197 regulates all outdoor signs and advertising space. This by-law ensures that signs are not a safety hazard and assists in maintaining a clean and positive image for our city.

The Sign By-law controls the type of signs such as mobile or ground, size, location, number and display timelines for all signs.

Types of signs permitted

If you are considering placing a sign it is important that you review and understand the requirements for each type of sign. The most popular types of signs are:

The City does not allow the following:

  • Flashing or animated video screens, except electronic word displays
  • Signs that create a safety issue such as blocking visibility on streets
  • Signs supported either entirely or partly by the roof of a building or structure that extend above the height of the building
  • Signs displayed on a parked vehicle, trailer or truck and used more as a sign than a vehicle
  • Signs that block or are displayed in a parking space or space required under Hamilton’s Zoning By-law to be used for parking
  • Signs within 400 m of the right of way of Highway 403, the Queen Elizabeth Way, the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway or the Red Hill Valley Parkway and are visible from the travelled portion of the road
  • Signs displayed on City property that are not authorized by the City

Complete a Sign By-law Variance application form (PDF, 31 KB).

A plan showing the dimensions of the subject land and all abutting land should accompany your application.

Submit your application and plan in person to:
Planning and Economic Development Department
City Hall
71 Main Street West, 5th Floor
Hamilton, Ontario

Fee:  You will need to pay the $625 fee when you submit your application. You can pay by cash or cheque (payable to the City of Hamilton). If the sign that has been erected, located and displayed without a permit, the fee is $1,330.

You may be granted approval if you can prove that the general intent and purpose of the By-law can be maintained. For more information on the process for requesting an exception you can review the variances section of the Sign By-law.

Failure to comply with the requirements of the Sign By-law may result in:

  • The sign being immediately removed at the owner’s expense
  • An Order to Comply being issued and/or
  • Charges under the Provincial Offences Act which provide for a maximum fine(s) of $5000 for an individual and $10,000 for a corporation in addition to other court proceeding necessary to obtain compliance.

Order to Comply

An Order to Comply is a document provided to the property owner/occupant that gives  direction on what actions are required and the deadline for which this action is to occur (compliance date).

The Order to Comply may:

  • Require the sign to be removed immediately or by a specific date; and/or
  • Require the sign to be brought into compliance, such as request that changes be made so that the sign meets all of the regulations and requirements).

To make arrangements to pick up a sign that has been removed call Municipal Law Enforcement at 905-546-2782.

Signs that have been removed are stored for 28 days and are available for pick-up during this time period. After 28 days we may dispose of the sign without notice or compensation.