On-property signs

Overview

On-property (or on-premises) signs advertise for a business that is conducted on the property. The sign may be on the structure of a building, or free-standing. If the sign is free-standing, it must be located on the same premises on which the activity is conducted. 

Provided the following requirements are met, WisDOT does not require a permit for on-property signs located on state-controlled routes. However, if your sign does not meet the below requirements, then you must apply for an off-property sign permit and all off-property permit requirements apply.

Location requirements

  • The sign must:
    • Be located within the immediate vicinity of the business activities conducted on the property. Immediate vicinity is defined as:
      • The area bounded by the buildings, driveways and parking areas, OR
      • Within 50 feet of those areas
    • Not be located across a street or road from where the business is conducted
    • Not be located on a narrow strip
  • Additionally, the sign must:
    • Be located entirely on the business property (includes overhang and landscaping)
    • Be outside of any setbacks (includes overhang and landscaping)
    • Not encroach onto the highway right of way
    • Not constitute a safety hazard (i.e., does not impede adequate traffic vision lines for all roads and all access points that serve this business)

Content requirements

  • The sign must advertise only activities conducted on the property on which the sign is located. This includes:
    • Name of establishment
    • Principal products or services offered on the premises
  • No off-property advertising is allowed

On-property sign laws

Note on local authorities: Most local authorities (counties and municipalities) also have regulations or ordinances regarding signage in their jurisdiction. It is the sign owner's responsibility to follow local laws. Where state and local regulations differ, the more restrictive requirements govern.