Signs are regulated by the Louisville Metro Code of Ordinances and the Louisville Metro Land Development Code. Signs located in local preservation districts, design overlay districts, and/or rights-of-way are subject to additional regulations. Requirements vary depending on the type of sign, its location, and how long it will be in place.
What are the requirements for signs?
- Temporary Signs (On-Premises). Temporary signs include small freestanding signs, freestanding signs (for a period not exceeding 120 days in a calendar year), banner signs (for a period not exceeding 30 consecutive days and/or a cumulative period not exceeding 90 days in any calendar year), window signs, rent/sale signs, and construction signs. The regulations for temporary signs are provided in Chapter 155 of the Louisville Metro Code of Ordinances (Sections 155.20 through 155.24) and summarized here.
- Permanent Signs (On-Premises). Permanent on-premises signs include attached and freestanding signs and the requirements are dependent on the sign's location (including its zoning and form district designations). The regulations for permanent signs are provided in Chapters 1 and 8 of the Louisville Metro Land Development Code. Zoning and form district boundaries can be determined here.
- Incidental Signs (On-Premises). Any on-premises sign, that has a purpose secondary to other on-premises signs on a lot, may be located adjacent to building entrances, vehicular and/or pedestrian/bicycle access points, or public gathering spaces on a lot Incidental signs may be illuminated and shall not exceed 5 square feet in area for nonresidential uses and 2 square feet in area for residential uses. Attached incidental signs shall not exceed a mounting height of 20 feet on a building facade. Freestanding incidental signs shall not exceed a height of 3 feet. The regulations for incidental signs are provided in Chapters 1 and 8 of the Louisville Metro Land Development Code.
- Billboard / Off-Premises Signs. A sign that is considered a principal use on a lot and is unassociated with other principal uses on the lot upon which the sign is located is an off-premises sign. The regulations for off-premises signs are provided in Chapters 1 and 4 of the Louisville Metro Land Development Code.
- Signs in the Right-of-Way. An off-premises sign, temporary or permanent, located on a public sidewalk or other right-of-way. Such a sign requires approval from the Department of Public Works or the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), depending on whether or not the right-of-way is controlled by the state or local government. Please contact the Department for more information.
Do you need a sign permit?
Permanent signs must be approved with a sign permit, excluding the types of the signs exempted in Section 8.1.3 of the Land Development Code. Temporary freestanding signs (for a period not exceeding 120 days in a calendar year) and temporary banner signs (for a period not exceeding 30 consecutive days and/or a cumulative period not exceeding 90 days in any calendar year) also must be approved with a sign permit.
If the sign will be located in a right-of-way, an encroachment permit may be required from the Department of Public Works. Please contact the Department for more information.
If the sign will be located on an individual landmark or in a local preservation district, a Certificate of Appropriateness is required if the sign will be in place for more than 6 months. You can determine if a location is within a local preservation district here.
If the sign will be located in a design overlay district, an Overlay Permit is required if the sign will be in place for more than 2 months. You can determine if a location is within a design overlay district here.
If the sign is a billboard, it may be required to be registered with the Department of Codes & Regulations. More information is available here.
How do I apply for a sign permit?
Sign permits may be applied for online here. If you do not want to submit online, you may print the application and submit at the Office of Planning & Design Services, located at 444 S. 5th Street (3rd floor).
If committee approval is not required, the additional certificate of appropriateness or overlay permit review will be carried out as part of the sign permit review and you are not required to submit a separate application. One may seek such an approval before the submittal of a sign permit application. Please click here for the applications.
Do these regulations apply throughout Jefferson County?
The regulations described on this webpage apply to areas under the zoning authority of Louisville Metro, which includes cities and unincorporated areas of Jefferson County that have not adopted their own version of the Land Development Code. At this time, the following cities have their own independent zoning authority: Anchorage, Douglass Hills, Graymoor-Devondale, Hurstbourne, Indian Hills, Jeffersontown, Lyndon, Middletown, Prospect, Shively, St. Matthews, and St. Regis Park. If a sign is to be located within any of the aforementioned cities, please refer to their local ordinances and Land Development Codes. The applicable regulations may differ from those provided within the Louisville Metro Code of Ordinances and Louisville Metro Land Development Code. Further, some of these cities issue their own sign permits.
How are these regulations enforced?
Enforcement of these regulations is carried out by Zoning Enforcement Officers. If a portable sign is found on property that does not conform to the regulations, the responsible party (owner and/or tenant) will be issued a notice of violation. Failure of the responsible party to remove the sign or bring it into compliance may result in fines, court action, and/or confiscation of the sign.
Any member of the public that observes a potential violation may report the activity or development to Louisville Metro and the case will be inspected. To file a zoning-related complaint, please click here. If you have any questions regarding zoning enforcement, please contact the Office of Planning & Design Services at 574-6230.