How To: Apply For A Permit For Demonstrations

When expressing the right to peacefully assemble, there are guidelines to follow in Philadelphia. Here’s a breakdown of the rules to apply for a permit for demonstrations.

The city defines a demonstration as “a public assembly, a meeting or gathering, a rally or protest event, a political rally or event, a demonstration, speechmaking, marching, the holding of vigils or religious services, and all other like forms of conduct, the primary purposes of which is expressive activity or the communication or expression of views or grievances.”

The conditions state a demonstration would be engaged by more than 75 people or will occur on any city street, sidewalk or alley that does not comply with normal traffic laws.

Apply for a Permit

No demonstrations are allowed without a proper permit. Demonstration permit applications are available online.

Applications can be delivered in person or by mail to the managing director’s office, 1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd., room 143.

Applications should contain the name and contact information of the applicant, person in charge of the demonstration and any sponsors. In addition, the date, time, duration and location of the event as well as an estimate of the amount of participants must be provided.

An explanation of the reason for demonstrating is required, whether the event is a spontaneous reaction to a specific occurrence or a planned event.


Deadlines and Fees

Applications must be submitted five business days before the proposed event. The city will accept last minute applications if the demonstration is spontaneously planned in response to a recent event (such as political announcements) or decisions in regard to local, state or federal laws.

In order to request city equipment or to erect tents or statues, the permit must be received 60 days in advance

Each permit costs a non-refundable $20 by check or money order, due with the application, which should be made out to “City of Philadelphia.” An expedited application, one needing less than the typical five day approval period, costs $25.

The city government retains the rights to deny a permit for demonstrations or shut down an ongoing demonstration if the event is a threat to public safety or does not comply with law-enforcement and agreed upon regulations.

You can read the full list of rules online.


You Need Insurance

Part of the city policy for organizing demonstrations is a certificate of general liability insurance for a minimum of $1 million that includes protections for the City of Philadelphia, officers, agents and employees.

You can find the affidavit online or contact the City’s risk management division at (215) 683-1708 for more information on insurance.

For more information about permits and demonstrations, contact the managing director’s office at (215) 683-3666.


-Text and image by Brianna Spause.


Brianna Spause
Lew Klein Fellow for // Multimedia Journalist

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