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Sign Regulations

The following summarizes the City of Fargo's basic rules about signs; these rules are expanded on in the Fargo Sign Code:

There are three categories of signs:

  • permanent signs.
  • portable signs.
  • temporary signs that do not require permits.

None of these types of signs may be displayed on city boulevards, nor are signs requiring permits allowed on residential property.

Permanent signs

Permanent signs are limited by height and area, but not number. Permanent signs require a "one-time" permit. The permit application and requirements are available on our general Permits and Codes page under "Signs".  The maximum area for all signs at a property is either 30% of the front "face" area of the building or 2.5 square feet for every lineal foot of lot frontage.  Multi-tenant buildings and corner lots have additional rules that govern allowable signage.

Permits for signs that are hung on a building must be written to a licensed sign hanger unless the work is done by the property owner. Freestanding signs do not require a licensed sign hanger. The further a freestanding sign is located from the street-side property line, the taller it may be. The maximum allowable height is 50 feet. Permit costs are based on the area of the sign's face(s).  Please use our application. You may submit via e-mail, postal mail, or in person.

Portable signs

Portable signs must also have permits. A business may display a portable sign for 30 days, then it must be removed for 14 days before being displayed again for that business.  Each business may have a portable sign for no more that 96 days per calendar year.

A site with six or more lease spaces may have two signs up at one time but there must still be 14 days between advertising for any one business on that lot.  For every four businesses over the minimum of six a site is allowed one more portable sign at the the same time.  There must be 50 feet between portable signs no matter what their location.

The City of Fargo must be notified of the location and duration of all portable signs displayed before they are placed.  There is a $15 registration fee for each placement. Companies who will be placing portable signs must also pay an annual $50 license fee.  You should submit a sign location registration form (available on-line as a Microsoft Word document or an Adobe Acrobat .pdf file) with the necessary information for approval before the sign is placed.

Signs that do not require permits

There are several types of signs which do not require permits. Political signs, garage sale signs, and temporary cloth signs or banners do not require permits.  Temporary signs on private property may be in place for 14 days and then cannot be placed again for 60 days.

Signs in windows and menu boards illegible from the street also do not require sign permits to install.  In addition, directional signs under six square feet also may be erected without permits.

Forbidden locations

Signs are not permitted on the boulevard or other city right-of-way including telephone, power and light poles. Due to the increased number of such signs and complaints about them, the city has begun to rigorously enforce this rule and will be confiscating signs that are found on the right-of-way.  

The only exceptions to this rule are garage sale, real estate open house, or Parade of Homes directional signs specific to a short-term event.  These signs may be in place a maximum of 14 days and not more than 3 days before and one day after the event.

For more information

If you need more information or have questions, please review the Fargo Sign Code or contact the Inspections Department.