Off-property (or off-premises) signs advertise for businesses or services that are not conducted on the property. A state permit is required to legally erect an off-property sign on private lands if the sign is adjacent to a state-controlled highway. A non-refundable permit application fee of $175 is required for most types of signs. The permit stays in effect as long as the sign continues to meet legal requirements.
License to erect signs
An annual license fee of $250 is required of any person or company that erects more than two signs in Wisconsin in a calendar year. An annual license is also required when a person or company maintains one or more existing signs in a calendar year. Persons erecting on-property (or on-premises) signs that advertise their own business are exempt from the annual license fee.
To obtain a license to erect outdoor advertising signs, download, complete and submit:
Sign Installation permit
To obtain an outdoor advertising installation permit, download, complete and submit:
The following checklists can help to prepare the permit application according to the specific category of sign for which you are applying. Regional coordinators also use these checklists as a guide when reviewing the sign installation application.
In addition to the permit application fee, an annual fee applies to most outdoor advertising signs. Annual fee notices are automatically sent to sign owners on record with the department. The annual fee is $35 for most signs. However, an annual fee of $50 applies to directional, nonconforming and grandfathered signs. Nonconforming and grandfathered signs are signs that were installed prior to the state's 1972 sign control law or were legally erected after the law was enacted, but no longer meet the requirements for a new sign permit.
Sign categories exempt from the annual fee requirement:
Relevant outdoor advertising 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.