The Small Business Center (SBC) - Public Way Use Unit (PWU) issues permits to business owners who have any items (e.g. signs, canopies, awnings, benches, sidewalk cafes, etc.) that extend out (i.e. over, under, or on) to the public way from their business locations. There are many different types of public way uses, and, the process to obtain the permit requires City Council approval.
In addition to a public way use permit, all business identifiers such as signs, awnings, canopies, marquees and banners are required to have a Department of Buildings sign construction permit. Only a licensed sign contractor may apply to obtain a sign construction permit. Please see the list of approved contractors.
The Small Business Center – Public Way Use Unit is located at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., Room 800. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You may schedule an appointment with a business consultant, or call our Business Call Center at 312-74-GOBIZ (744-6249).
For temporary use of the public way due to construction, applicants must obtain a Construction Canopy Permit from the Chicago Department of Transportation CDOT is located at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., Room 905. Find information about the permitting process.
Public Way Use Applications / Documents
Sidewalk Café Current Permits
Business Licensing: What Do I Need?