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Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a permit to put a sign in highway right of way?
Other than official highway signs, no signs are allowed in state highway right of way. You can not get a permit and it is illegal to place a sign there. For safety reasons, ODOT can remove such signs without prior notice. It is possible to put your sign on private property, but you must adhere to state regulations.

 
Where is the "right of way" of a highway?

Right of way is property owned by the state for the sake of safety, future road projects, etc.  It is the paved surface plus some additional ground beyond the pavement. The width varies from place to place. Inside a city it might be only from curb to curb. In other places right of way may extend 200 feet or more beyond the pavement. Often it matches the line of utility poles or wire fencing, but that is not always the case. It is best to check with your ODOT District office to determine the right-of-way line. 
 
Click here to see a map of ODOT Districts and their phone numbers:

 

 
Do I need a permit to put a sign on my own property?
Maybe. It depends on whether the sign is being posted for compensation, or if it is at the location of a business, or at some activity open to the public. A sign for compensation, or a sign NOT at a business or activity open to the public, requires a permit. If the sign is not for compensation, and it is either at a business or an activity open to the public, it does not need a permit.

 
What type of sign is "for compensation"?
If you are receiving income for posting information on the sign structure (such as with a billboard), that is for compensation. Or, if you are paying the land owner for the right to put the sign on their property (such as a ground lease), that is for compensation. Also, compensation is not just the exchange of money. It is the exchange of anything of value including barter, forgiveness of a debt, or consideration of some past or future action or payment in exchange for the posting of advertisements or the erection of the sign. It does not include payment to the sign builder or a laborer for the physical act of initially building or erecting the sign structure.

 
What constitutes a "business" whether a sign needs a permit?
Maybe. It depends on whether the sign is being posted for compensation, or if it is at the location of a business, or at some activity open to the public. A sign for compensation, or a sign NOT at a business or activity open to the public, requires a permit. If the sign is not for compensation, and it is either at a business or an activity open to the public, it does not need a permit.

 
What is an "activity open to the public" for sign regulation?
An activity open to the public is a location whose main purpose is to admit or provide service to the public. A charity's office, a political campaign headquarters, a church or other worship facility, a community center, or a park are examples that are open to the public.

 
I want to put up a sign for a short time, do I need a permit?
The law provides a permit exemption for temporary signs. Temporary is defined in statute. The most important qualifications are that the sign is up for no more than 60 days, no compensation changes hands, and the size is 12 square feet or less. You may qualify for a variance up to 32 square feet. There are other requirements. Check the detailed information on the Temporary Sign exemption to see if your sign will qualify, how to get a variance, etc. 
 
Temporary Signs
 
How much does a permit cost?
The cost of a state sign permit is based on the size of the sign. The application fee ranges from $200 for signs 25 square feet or less, and go up to $1000 for signs over 400 square feet.  Permits must be renewed annually, including payment of a renewal fee ranging from $120 to $160. If your sign will have two sides, you must count both sides in calculating the size. For example, a 4’x4’ sign is 16 square feet. If the sign has two sides for display, the two 16-square foot panels make the total size 32 square feet. See the administrative rule on fees for more information. 
 
Permit Fees
 
How do I get one of the blue & white gas/food/lodging signs?
Contact the Oregon Travel Experience, which is the agency that handles these signs. They can be reached at 800-574-9697 or at www.ortravelexperience.com 

 
Why is the state regulating signs placed on private property?
For beautification of highways, safety, and to comply with Federal law.  Oregon laws regulate the placement of signs to protect our state’s unique beauty and to improve driver safety by reducing the visual distraction signs can cause. We also meet or exceed the federal minimum sign regulations, which we are required to enforce. Failure to do so could result in being penalized 10% of some annual highway funding – about $30 million per year in potential lost highway construction and maintenance funds.

 
Whom should I contact about an official sign (e.g. speeds, exit)?

For questions about official signs along a state highway, contact your local ODOT District for assistance. Click here to see a map of ODOT Districts and corresponding phone numbers: 

 

 
Do state sign regulations apply inside city limits?
Yes.  The state’s sign regulations apply on all state highways, regardless of whether the sign is inside or outside of city limits. Some of the state permit requirements do change within a city. For example, the law requires less distance between signs inside a city than outside of city limits.  However, state sign regulation applies on every mile of state highway in the state. In addition, sometimes the state transfers state highway to county or city jurisdiction. In some cases, federal law requires us to continue regulating signs there. Check with us if you have a question about the location.