The Basics Of Oversize Permits

California oversize permits

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” -Dr. Seuss

The other day I got a call from someone on my team.

“Dan I need to get permits from Wyoming to CA for a load for one of our customers!”

I could feel the anxiety in his voice.  He was talking way faster than usual and I could tell that he was feeling just a little (ok a LOT) overwhelmed. 

Then he continued, “I have Colorado & Utah permits already ordered. But I just can’t figure out California’s permitting system.  TELL ME THAT YOU HAVE DONE THIS BEFORE!!!!!”

As I sat there a few things ran through my mind. The first was wow this guy is really on top of it.  he is doing a GREAT job. 

Second, Man, he is wound up. What can I do to help him calm down so that he can figure out how to get this done?

Third, I have never pulled California oversize permits before. I guess now is a great time to learn!

As we talked about what he had done already, I assured him that he was doing great. He already had the CA permit application pulled and just had a few questions about it.

So he sent it over to me and I looked it over.  Nothing too big, but there were a few things on that application that confused me.

So I did what any good DOT Master does.

Are you ready for this?????

I Googled it!

Then I found out that California has 3 colors of charts that you have to use to get the max weight you can haul. 

Talk about confusing.

I downloaded all 3 charts and started working through them with my guy.  In a few minutes, we had it figured out and he was able to get them completed and FAXED. (yes faxed, not emailed. What the heck???? Lol)

All right, it has been a little while since we talked about permits and legal weights.

So, let’s dive right in and get down and dirty like a mechanic rebuilding an engine. Lol

If you are hauling a load that is at or under the legal limits you do NOT need oversize or overweight permits to haul that load.

What are the legal limits you ask?

Well, every state is different.


If you stick with the federal limits you should be ok in most states.

Anything over 8’5” wide might require a permit. Really you shouldn’t need a permit until you get more than 9’ wide in most states though.

Anything that is taller than 13’6” off the ground might require a permit. Honesty you do need to check each and every state on their limit. Because most states will require that you get a permit when you are higher than that.

Now let’s talk a little bit about weights.

Any straight truck with 2 axles (total) that has an overall gross weight of more than 36,000 would need an overweight permit.

Any straight truck with 3 or more axles can not weigh more than 54,000 pounds without getting an overweight permit.

Any tractor-trailer that weighs more than 80,000 pounds would need an overweight permit. Some states have a higher limit if you are operating on what they call “secondary” roads.

A secondary road is pretty much any road that is not part of the interstate system. An example of a secondary road would be State Highway.

For Overall length, there is no federal limit imposed on most truck tractor‑semitrailers operating on the National Highway System (NHS).  However, on the NHS, combination vehicles designed and used specifically to carry automobiles or boats in specially designed racks may not exceed a maximum overall vehicle length of 65 feet, or 75 feet, depending on the type of connection between the tractor and trailer.

However, most states do have overall length restrictions in place. So, you really need to check each state that you operate in.

For instance, Colorado says that a single vehicle cannot be more than 45’ long and a combination cannot exceed 70’.

Now that we have the basics out of the way let’s dive into some of the questions that we get almost daily.

Can we get an overweight permit if we are hauling more than one thing?

The short answer to that is no, not usually.

If your load is divisible, meaning that you can unload part of it, then most of the time you will NOT be able to get an overweight permit.

The next question we get quite a bit is how do we get permits when we need them?

The best option here is to become an Eclipse DOT member.  Then when you need a permit you just shoot your contact with Eclipse DOT a message letting them know you need a permit. Then they will get you taken care of!

If you are the type of person who likes to do things the hard way. Then of course you can get the permits yourself. You will just have to create a login for every state that you want to travel through. Then go to their website and get the permits ordered. 

Unless of course, they don’t have a website. Then you have to figure out how to get a permit.

We could go on and on with questions that we constantly get asked about permits.

Who knows maybe we will write another blog about the FAQ’s of permits.

But for now, we are going to wrap this blog up.

Remember that if you ever need help we are just a phone call away.  And if you like having an expert on your side for a fraction of the cost of an entry-level employee you can join the Eclipse DOT Family with one of our memberships.

According to our members the benefits of the membership are 10x the cost.

You can join now by sending an email to with the subject line of “Membership” and our team will get you the information you need to join our family!

Until next time.

Dan Greer

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