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New York City Exit Signs Info

New York City Exit Sign Information

Unlike most other cities, which use the National Electric Code (NEC) for their exit sign regulations, the New York City Building Authority has developed their own specifications for requirements on Exit Signs used in commercial and public buildings. These regulations provide more stringent requirements than the NEC, making most exit signs unusable in New York City.


View our New York City Exit Signs


Requirements for New York Exit Signs:

There are several design differences between exit signs designed to meet the New York City specifications and signs designed to meet NEC specifications:

  • The letters for the word “EXIT” must be in red; green, white and black are not acceptable.
  • The letters must be 8 inches tall, with a 1 inch stroke (line thickness) as opposed to 6 inches tall with a 3/4” stroke in other places.
  • The internal lighting of the sign must be red, as opposed to white that is used in other places.
  • The average lighting intensity must be at least 250 foot-lamberts. 
  • The background is required to be white, translucent or light grey (aluminum), while in other places where white lettering is allowed; it can be black, red or green.
  • In the case of photoluminescent exit signs, they must have the ability to remain visible for a minimum of 8 hours after being exposed to light.
  • Self-luminescent exit signs, (which function by tritium, a radioactive gas) are not allowed.

Specifications for New York Exit Sign Installation:

New York City Edge Lit Exit Sign

New York City exit signs feature 8” tall red letters and are approved by the NYC Building Department.

In addition to the normal installation of exit signs as mentioned in OSHA regulations, New York City adds the following specifications:

  • Both electrical and photoluminescent signs must be installed at all exit points and stairwells, in case the battery backup exit sign is rendered inoperable. The photoluminescent signs must be mounted in a low location, in case the building is filled with smoke.
  • New York City specifically states that the exit sign at doors be placed in such a way as to be visible to people approaching that door. This may mean flat against the wall, or perpendicular to the wall, depending upon the corridors leading to that door. In the case where corridors approach the door from multiple directions, each direction must have an exit sign.
  • Directional markings shall be applied for all exits. This includes both photoluminescent arrows and lines upon the floor, next to the wall, or on the wall, near the floor.
  • On long corridors where the exit is not easily visible, exit signs must be supplied periodically. Although no actual dimension is given in the specification, it is understood that one sign can be easily read from the location of the next one.
New York City Exit Sign

Steel New York City exit signs feature a 20-gauge housing and universal mounting canopy.

Types of New York City Exit Signs

Steel, Edge Lit, and Aluminum New York City exit signs are all great, compliant, and affordable choices for NYC exit sign applications. Edge Lit exit signs offer the highest level of aesthetic appeal. Aluminum models combine attractiveness with durability. Steel New York City exit signs are the most affordable models available.

It is important to note that these additional regulatory requirements by New York City do not in any way negate existing regulations by OSHA, NFPA and other agencies. Where New York City doesn’t mention a specific regulation, such as in monthly and annual testing requirements, the federal regulations are still in effect. New York City’s requirements are an addition to, not a replacement for, these other regulatory requirements. 


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By Jonathan Carter