**The COVID-19 pandemic may have caused changes to be made to the normal patio permit requirements. Please check with your local government/permit agency for the latest information.**
Obtaining a permit for your sidewalk cafe can be a frustrating task. To make it easier, we've compiled some of the general rules and requirements for sidewalk cafes across the US. 
As exact requirements vary from city to city, the below information is for reference only.  Please check with your local permit agency for complete rules and regulations.

General Permit Requirements & Regulations:

  • Typically permits are seasonal and must be renewed every year.


  • Drawings and/or photos must be sent in with the permit application. SelectSpace can assist you with developing a drawing to submit.


  • Proof of proper insurance coverage must be sent in with the permit application.   


  • Most municipalities require that there be a 6 ft clearance between the sidewalk café and other obstacles for pedestrian use. 


  • A sidewalk café partition/divider/barrier system must be removable within 24 hours and not permanently attached to city property (like the sidewalk) in any way.  While cities rarely ask an establishment to remove partitions during the season, it does happen from time to time for special events and construction projects.


  • The partition system must have a solid continuous barrier less than 27” off the ground according to federal ADA regulations. SelectSpace partitions meet this requirement.


  • Entrances/exits should be 3 ft wide and the tables/chairs will have to adhere to the ADA standards. 


  • The partition system may not be taller than 36" off the ground.  However, height requirements do vary between cities.

  • Check that your partitions and furniture meet the material guidelines.  Some cities do not allow fabric, plastic, or wood to be used. There also may be color and branding requirements.


  • Some cities have rules about the opening/closing hours of patio seating. They may vary from the hours of your indoor dining area.


  • Serving alcohol in a sidewalk café may mean a different alcohol license type, sidewalk cafe permit type, additional insurance, and stricter barrier requirements.  

Important- Sidewalk café requirements vary from city to city and this list is meant as reference only.  Please check with your city’s permit division to ensure your sidewalk café meets their requirements.


sidewalk cafe permits

direct links to sidewalk cafe permit information for some major cities
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3636 S Kedzie Ave 

Chicago, IL 60632

mon - fri: 9am - 5pm CT

Tel: (855) 839-1200​

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