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Public Walk Ways and Patio Sidewalks

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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.

Payments can now be made online on the City’s Payment Portal at  You will need your business account number and permit number found on your payment coupon to process.  The City of Chicago still accepts payment methods through the mail with a Personal Check, Money Order, Cashier’s Check or Certified Check.   Please include your payment coupon with your payment.  Please do not send cash payments through the mail.  Cash and other payments may be made in person at City Hall – 121 N. LaSalle Street, Room #800. 

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. 

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. 

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. Click here to find information about the permitting process.


The City of Chicago sidewalk café season begins on March 1st, and ends on December 1st.

Sidewalk Café Permits have a 9 month term, and must be applied for, and issued, every year.

The Sidewalk Café Permit, and approved plan, must be conspicuously displayed on the exterior wall or window of the main entrance of the licensed retail food establishment during all hours of operation.

Sidewalk Café Permits are issued by the Public Way Use Unit of BACP at the Small Business Center (SBC) located in City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street, Room 800. To obtain a public way use permit, please contact us at 312.74.GOBIZ (744.6249).

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