What You Need to Know About Obtaining an Overweight Permit

Oct 28, 2022 2:37:27 PM / Written by: Jacquelyn Pack

What is the maximum axle weight for trucks?

By federal regulations, a load is overweight when it is: 

  • Over 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight 
  • Over 20,000 pounds single axle weight 
  • Over 34,000 pounds tandem axle weight 

The spacing of axles is also taken into consideration when looking at weight compliance. To protect infrastructure such as bridges, the numbers of axles and their spacing when carrying a load must be calculated. A special formula is applied to commercial vehicles to determine if it meets these compliances. However, these limits may vary depending on the state you’re traveling in.  


Do I need an overweight permit? 

It’s required to have one if you are hauling non-divisible shipments that exceed the legal limits for the state, county, and township a vehicle traverses. While most states and cities follow the federal regulations, it’s recommended to double check.  

Depending on the state, county, or town, the legal restrictions may vary. Even how the permit prices are calculated can vary. When jurisdiction changes from state to state, so do the permit requirements and their costs.  

Carrying an overloaded haul without a permit or prior planning can even cost a carrier. But hauling overweight loads can be less expensive with careful planning of your routes with an expert. It may also be helpful to have an on-board truck scale system since there are limitations to overweight permits.  


What kind of overweight permits are offered? 

You’ll need one of the following types of heavy haul permits depending on your route. Which one you’ll need entirely depends on who owns the road your load will be traversing.

  • State-level permits 
  • County-level permits 
  • Township permits 

For example, if you are traveling only through interstate, you'll only need a state permit. However, your end destination will most likely be on county or city roads. You'll also need to purchase a permit for that governing body to haul an overweight load on their roads. 


Information to provide when obtaining a permit 

Shippers and transportation provider are required to have a pre-existing account with each governing party (state, county, or town).  To secure consistent permits, carriers may need to sign contracts and bonds. This will help signify the carrier’s ability to obtain a heavy haul permit. When maintained, it can even help expedite the process and make permits relatively inexpensive.  

To make sure the pricing to be accurate, you’ll need to provide the following information, including but limited to: 

  • DOT number 
  • Truck and trailer information: make, model, serial number, license plate, state, dimension of equipment, axles, and spacing distance 
  • In-depth description of your vehicle and trailer: height, weight, length, width, and exact nature
  • Starting and end points 
  • Transportation date 

Depending on the governing party you’re working with, the information you'll need to provide to obtain an overweight permit may change. Some governing parties may ask for more details than others. 

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DOT overweight permits by state 

To obtain state permits, you will need to contact the state(s) in which you wish to travel. See below for each state’s DOT website. You may also contact the state's DOT office by telephone. 

Topics: Overloaded, Gross vehicle weight, Fines

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