• New York City’s Money Grab

    If you put a picture of a New York City billboard on your website and aren’t registered as an out of home company in New York City you may get a summons from the city to register as an out of home advertising company or face a fine of $25,000 a day.  This is greedy regulatory overreach.  Insider understands why New York City wants to regulate billboard structure owners.  But it’s ridiculous to make a sales agent or sales rep register under the city’s out of home advertising rules in order to sell an ad.  This will be a huge headache for companies like Adquick, Fliphound and Blip which use their websites to market signs nationwide.

    Insider knows a company which doesn’t own New York City billboards but markets some New York City locations via its website.  It received a summons from New York city to appear in court.  The potential fine for not registering as a outdoor advertising company can be up up to $25,000/day.

    The company inquired why it was being summoned to court because it doesn’t own the billboards and this is the response it got from Alex Berger (aberger@buildings.nyc.gov) of the New York City Buildings Department:

    If one of your companies has a website that offers specific locations available for outdoor advertising purposes, then you meet the definitions below:

    OUTDOOR ADVERTISING COMPANY. A person, corporation, partnership or other business entity that as a part of the regular conduct of its business engages in or, by way of advertising, promotions or other methods, holds itself out as engaging in the outdoor advertising business.

    OUTDOOR ADVERTISING BUSINESS. The business of selling, leasing, marketing, managing, or otherwise either directly or indirectly making space on signs situated on buildings and premises within the city of New York available to others for advertising purposes, whether such advertising directs attention to a business, profession, commodity, service or entertainment conducted, sold, or offered on the same or a different zoning lot and whether such sign is classified as an advertising sign pursuant to section 12-10 of the zoning resolution.

    If you want to challenge the issuance of the violations, then you should appear at the scheduled hearing.

    The attitude seems to be “hire a lawyer and fight us in court if your disagree.”

    It’s costly and time-consuming to register as an outdoor advertising company in New York.  We’ve attached the rules below.  It’s obvious they are aimed at the company which owns the billboard structure.  City employees are trying to shake as much money out of as many companies as possible by using legal threats: if the billboard’s owner and the billboard sales agent both have to register the city will be able to double tax every billboard structure in New York City.  Insider hopes someone challenges this practice in court.


    New York City Outdoor Advertising Registration Program

    Individuals and entities engaged in the outdoor advertising business must register as Outdoor Advertising Companies (OACs) with the Department. As part of registration, OACs must include a detailed inventory of every sign, sign structure, and sign location under its control which is located:

    • Within 900 feet and in view of an arterial highway
    • Within 200 feet and in view of a public park one-half acre or larger

    Failure to Register

    Outdoor Advertising Companies without an active registration number from the Department are subject to fines of up to $25,000 per day as well as the loss of the ability to bid on City contracts.

    Outdoor Advertising Companies that fail to register signs near arterial highways and public parks as required are subject to fines, removal of the signs, and revocation of their registration as an Outdoor Advertising Company. 


    To register, submit the following documents:

    • Letter of Credit Form – OACs must provide a Letter of Credit to the Department printed on their bank’s letterhead. This is required for applicants submitting a Sign Inventory.  
      *Note: you must have your bank transfer this information onto their letterhead.
    • Letter of Credit Agreement
      The Letter of Credit Agreement defines the terms for which the Department may access funds in the Letter of Credit. The agreement must be signed by the applicant and accompany the Letter of Credit.

    Registration Fees

    Initial registration $1,500 per advertising company
    Renewal $750.00 per advertising company
    Initial sign registration $125.00 per sign, sign structure or location
    Renewal $50.00 per sign, sign structure or location

    Documentation for Existing Signs

    You may need to obtain permit-related information for your sign, including copies of construction, electrical, or illuminated sign permits. To request application copies and permit records, contact the Record Room at the appropriate borough office.

    Construction Applications & Permits

    • Electronic Records – The Department’s Building Information System (BIS) has basic information available for pre-1990 applications and more comprehensive information for those after 1990.
    • Inspection Records – Scanned copies of Department of Buildings’ sign inspection reports and accompanying photographs from the late 1970s and 1980s, are available by contacting the Sign Enforcement Unit. Files are in PDF format and may be e-mailed upon request.
    • Hard-Copy Records

      • Hard copies of newer documents are available from files in the borough record room.
      • Permit docket/log books are available in either hard copy or microfilm in the borough offices.
      • Hard copies of older documents are generally stored on microfilm in the borough office or archived off-site.
      • Archived documents require approximately one week for retrieval.

    Electrical Applications & Permits

    • Electronic Records – The Department’s Building Information System (BIS) has basic information related to electrical permits filed from 1984 to present.
    • Hard Copy Records

      • Applications and permits are available through the electrical units. Pre-2002 applications and permit are generally archived.
      • If the Control Number is unknown:

        • Control Numbers may be determined by searching files available on BIS or by looking on the sign itself for a DGS or BEC electrical tag number.
        • If the sign is metered, Con Edison will have record of the electrician who installed the meter.
        • Providing DOB with the name of the electrician is another way to search our records for the sign Control Number

    If further assistance is required, contact the Borough Electrical Chief of the appropriate borough.

    Illuminated Sign Permits

    Illuminated sign permits are applied for at the time of initial sign installation through the Borough office where the sign is located and must be renewed annually.

    • Electronic Records – The Department’s Building Information System (BIS) has basic information related to illuminated sign permits.
    • Hard Copy Records

      • Hard copies of illuminated sign permit applications and permits may be obtained through the borough office.

    Additional Assistance

    If you are unable to find the documentation you need, contact the Special OAC representative in the appropriate borough office.

    Helpful Links



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    1. Why does fliphound put up locations on there website without the location owners approval. They did it to one of my locations, after several calls to have it removed they finally removed it and a few months later they put it back up, I was just informed.

    2. Location has been removed.

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