Can we call the processes and rules required to get an official permit "red tape"?

I want to know that.

  • 1
    You mean "red tape", of course? Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 13:19

2 Answers 2


The phrase red tape does indeed mean all the processes and rules involved; but it is usually employed specifically to characterize the processes and rules as complicated and burdensome.

It's appalling how much red tape the DOT puts you through to get a bicycle permit.

If the process is straightforward and easy, or if you're not concerned with how easy or difficult it is, use another expression.

To get a bicycle permit you must follow the procedures laid down by the DOT.
Getting a bicycle permit's easy: just fill out a form, pay your $15, and get it stamped. No red tape at all.


Yes. From Wiktionary:

... 2. (idiomatic) Time-consuming regulations or bureaucratic procedures. All the red tape and paperwork that goes on there prevents any progress.

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