Zoning Permits Branch

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 9:15 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Friday

703-324-4300
TTY 711

12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 829
Fairfax, VA 22035

Leslie Johnson,
Zoning Administrator

Sign Permits - Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question below to expand.

Article 12 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance regulates signage within Fairfax County.

Our office con be reached by phone at (703) 324-4300 or by email at DPDMailforZPB-SPS@FairfaxCounty.gov.

Complete sign permit applications are reviewed within 15 business days of the permit fees being paid.

The current fee for a sign permit is $95 per sign, payable at the time of submission.

Yes, an approved certificate of occupancy, known as a Non-Residential Use permit (Non-Rup) is required to be listed on the sign permit application. An issued New Tenant Layout permit (NTL) may be substituted if a Non-Rup has not been approved.

Stamped sealed drawings are required for new freestanding signs over six (6) feet in height, and new awnings. Building plan review is required for all freestanding signs over six (6) feet in height, and new awnings. For information regarding building plan review, please contact Land Development Services Building Plan Review office at (703) 631-5101.

Yes, however illuminated cabinet signs must meet the outdoor lighting standards set forth by Part 9 of Art. 14 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance which states: "Internally illuminated signs must have an opaque background and translucent text and symbols, or have a translucent background that is not white, off-white or yellow in color."

Yes, freestanding LED changeable copy signs are allowed in residential districts pursuant Par. 3 of Art. 12-203 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance which states:

"Changeable copy and electronic display signs are allowed as part of any freestanding sign, in accordance with the following:

  • Only one changeable copy or electronic display sign is allowed per lot. The area of the changeable copy or electronic display cannot exceed more than 50 percent of the maximum allowable area of that freestanding sign.
  • The message or copy of an electronic display sign cannot move and/or change more frequently than once every 8 seconds. The change of message or copy must be instantaneous without rolling, fading, or otherwise giving the illusion of movement, nor flash or vary in brightness.
  • The background of the sign face of an electronic display sign cannot be white, off-white or yellow in color.
  • Electronic display signs must include a photo cell to control brightness and automatically dim at sunset to a nighttime level of 40-100 nits."

Yes, freestanding LED changeable copy signs are allowed in commercial districts pursuant Par. 4 of Art. 12-205 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance which states:

"Changeable copy and electronic display signs are allowed as part of any freestanding sign, in accordance with the following:

  • Only one changeable copy or electronic display sign is allowed per lot. The area of the changeable copy or electronic display cannot exceed more than 50 percent of the maximum allowable area of that freestanding sign.
  • The message or copy of an electronic display sign cannot move and/or change more frequently than once every 8 seconds. The
  • change of message or copy must be instantaneous without rolling, fading, or otherwise giving the illusion of movement, nor flash or vary in brightness.
  • The background of the sign face of an electronic display sign cannot be white, off-white or yellow in color.
  • Electronic display signs must include a photo cell to control brightness and automatically dim at sunset to a nighttime level of 40-100 nits."
  • Window signs that are designed to be easily moved and are typically not permanently attached to a structure or the ground and are not illuminated, are considered minor signs, and do not require sign permits. Art.12 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance defines minor signs and window signs as follows:
    • "MINOR SIGN: Any sign that is (1) designed to be easily moved, (2) typically not permanently attached to a structure or the ground, and (3) is not illuminated. Such signs include, but are not limited to, A-frame signs, banners, posters, window signs, yard signs or other moveable signs. For purposes of this Article, flags and vehicle signs are not minor signs.
    • WINDOW SIGN: A minor sign that is (1) attached to the glass area of a window or placed behind the glass of a window, and (2) easily read from outside the building."
  • Window signage is allowed as a minor sign but must comply with Par.6 of Art. 12-105 which states: "Window signs for any non-residential use are allowed if the total of all signs at a given establishment does not cover more than 30 percent of the total area of the window in which the signs are located."

Banner signs and popsicle style signs are considered minor signs and do not require sign permits, provided they meet the requirements of Art. 12-105 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance.

Art. 12-106 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance prohibits these types of signs.

Art. 12-201 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance regulates the allowable calculation methods which can be used when measuring the area of a building mounted sign. Further, please see the  "Calculating the Area of a Building Mounted Sign" brochure.

Art. 12-201 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance regulates the allowable calculation methods which can be used when measuring the area of a freestanding sign. Further, please see the "Calculating the Area of a Freestanding Sign" brochure.

ARB approval is required when a proposed sign is located within a Historical Overlay District, or when a proposed sign is located on a historical site.

A Special Exception (SE) may be granted in specific instances pursuant to Art. 9-620 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance, to allow for an increase in allowable sign area, an increase in sign height, or for a different location of a sign, not otherwise provided by Art. 12-304 of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance.

The application fee for a Special Exception is $16,375. For more information regarding Special Exceptions, please contact the Zoning Evaluations Division at (703) 324-1290.

Zoning and overlay districts of properties within Fairfax County can be determined by utilizing the Planning & Zoning viewer, selecting the zoning basemap & turning on the overlay layer.

You can search for applicable Zoning cases (Rezoning, Special Permits, Special Exceptions or Comprehensive Sign Plans) in LDSNet with the Combined Zoning, Plans and Waiver Search function of Fairfax County’s Land Development System by utilizing the property’s Tax Map Number or address.

  • Permit history of a property can be researched using the links below to the Land Use Data Warehouse, and or the Fairfax Inspections Database Online (FIDO).
  • LDSnet - Land Use Data Warehouse
  • FIDO
  • Some permits and permit information, specifically older permits are kept within the Zoning Permit Branch Street Files and may not be located in the above databases. Street files may be reviewed in person by visiting the Zoning Permit Branch Permits Counter in suite 250 of the Herrity Building.

The Sign Permits Office of the Zoning Permits Branch does not provide pre-approval reviews of proposed signs. Staff may be able to provide limited information based on recently approved permits if it is available.

The Sign Permits Office of the Zoning Permits Branch does not offer expedited sign permit review or approvals. Complete sign permit applications will be reviewed within 15 business days of payment.

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