Installing an electrical sign? What you need to know

Thinking of installing an electronic sign or message board? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

Does a sign need a permit?

Yes, unless the sign is of plug-in variety, an Electrical Installation Permit is required prior to connecting it to electrical power, unless it is a plug-in sign. The permit may be for the sign itself or held under the electrical permit for the premises.

Licensed electrical contractors are responsible for obtaining a permit for the connection of any electrical sign, and owners should obtain a copy of the permit or the permit number for their records.

A sign may require several types of permits. The city or municipality will typically also require a permit to erect any sign.

When must the permit be acquired?

An electrical installation permit must be obtained prior to connecting the sign .

If the sign is installed before the approval mark has been applied, it may not be connected to power until after it is approved by a certification agency accredited by the Standards Council of Canada.

Why do I need these permits?

In order to reduce or prevent the risk of electrical shocks and fire, the Safety Standards Act requires that electrical signs be built and installed to meet minimum safety standards. Approval labels and permits provide you with the best assurance that electrical signs installed on your premises meet these safety requirements .

How do I obtain the necessary permits?

A licensed electrical contractor must obtain the permit and call for inspections.

Can the sign installer hook the sign up to the building’s power?

The sign installer may connect the sign if they:

  • are a licensed electrical contractor; and
  • obtain an Electrical Installation Permit before connecting the sign;
  • submit a declaration of compliance to the safety officer as outlined in the Electrical Safety Regulation.

Does the sign need an approval mark?

Under section 21(1) of the Electrical Safety Regulation, the sign must bear a mark or label of a certification agency accredited by the Standards Council of Canada.

The approval testing and marking is typically arranged by the sign manufacturer or supplier.

It is the responsibility of the sign installer to verify that the sign has been approved and marked by a testing agency before being connected to power.

Examples of common approval marks

Common Approval Marks
Click to enlarge

Additional information

Additional information about electrical safety and code requirements is available in the:

Safety Standards Act

• Electrical Safety Regulation

Find these documents on our website at:

Electrical inspection in other areas

The following municipalities are responsible for electrical inspection service within their jurisdictions. When working in the following areas, contact the following for permits and inspections:

  • District of North Vancouver - 604.990.2480
  • District of West Vancouver - 604.925.7040
  • North Vancouver - 604.983.7355
  • Vancouver - 604.873.7600
  • Burnaby - 604.294.7130
  • Maple Ridge - 604.467.7311
  • Surrey - 604.591.4240
  • Victoria - 250.361.0343
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