Recently, the Illinois General Assembly passed HB2764—Amending the Highway Advertising Control Act of 1971. This legislation significantly reduces the burden of complying with state regulations for all existing on-premise signs located near interstate highways. It explicitly exempts on-premise signs and real estate signs from the key restrictions recently interpreted as applying to on-premise signs. On May 31, 2013, the Illinois Senate General Assembly and House of Representative unanimously passed an amended version of HB2764. HB2764 takes effect once the General Assembly transmits the bill to the Governor and the Governor signs the bill. This may take up to 90 days. In the meantime, the old policy may apply until the end of August.

Passing HB2764 means that owners of existing (and future) on-premise and real estate signs located within 660 feet of interstate and primary highways and “visible” from the highway are no longer required to fill out and submit Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Form 9003, which deals with Illinois’ outdoor advertising regulations. Obtaining all the required information and certifications to complete Form 9003 would have cost hundreds of dollars and numerous hours of administrative time for many of the 43,000 retail businesses in Illinois – much more than the completion of a three-page form and payment of a one-time $50 fee implied.


For more than 50 years, Illinois has regulated outdoor advertising (billboards), through the Highway Advertising Control Act of 1971 and other earlier acts. Generally, on-premise signs specifically have been exempt from these regulations. However, since the late 1970’s, Illinois law has included language that requires “registration” of on-premise signs, directional signs, and real estate signs. From the 1970’s until October 2012, IDOT never implemented “registration” of on-premise signs. Last fall, IDOT completed an inventory of all signs for which the state had no permitting or registration information. Business owners and other on-premise sign users located within 660 feet of interstates and primary highways received certified letters indicating noncompliance with state regulations. (This began in IDOT District 9 at the southern end of the state, with the intention of moving incrementally north up to District 1 in Chicago in coming years.) These letters indicated that business owners needed to apply for IDOT permits, or complete registration forms, within 30 days.

Compliance with these forms required: disclosure ownership, GPS location of sign (licensed surveyor mandatory for all signs 100+ ft2), the applicable zoning designation as of 9/21/1959, proximity to nearby airports, description of sign lighting, and payment of a one-time fee of $50. Any alteration to a sign, change in ownership of a business, or change in ownership of the land would require filing an amended registration form.

Illinois Sign Association / International Sign Association Efforts

In response to IDOT letters, a coalition of key stakeholders drafted legislation that would permanently prevent IDOT staff from requiring registration of on-premise signs. Throughout the winter and spring months, leaders of this coalition drafted legislation, introduced it in the Illinois House, and built crucial legislative support. Key support came from the legislative and government affairs staffs at the International Sign Association, Illinois Sign Association, Illinois Association of Realtors, and Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

HB2764 was introduced by Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur), with seven (7) co-sponsors that included Asst. Majority Leaders John Bradley (D-Marion) and Al Riley (D-Hazel Crest). In the Senate, the Bill was introduced by Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago) with key Republican co-sponsorship from Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Champaign), Sam McCann (R-Jacksonville), and Kyle McCarter (R-Vandalia).

Understanding HB2764 and IDOT Compliance For more information on IDOT regulations and on-premise signs, please contact Illinois Sign Association Executive Director Brian Swingle or Kenny Peskin at International Sign Association..