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Permit Requirements

The Outdoor Advertising Program regulates signs that are on private property, where visible to a state highway. Only official traffic control signs and devices are allowed on state highway right-of-way.

When is a permit required?

The Outdoor Sign Advertising Program uses two primary questions to determine when sign permits are required.

  1. Is the sign posted for compensation?
    • If so, a permit is required.
  2. Is the sign at the location of some business or activity open to the public?
    • If not, a permit is required.

See the Reference Materials and Resources page for definitions of compensation and open to the public.


In 2006 an Oregon Supreme Court Decision, resulted in changes in the permitting system. The Outdoor Advertising Sign Program functions as a cap-and-replace program for most permits, with the exception of exempt signage and transit permits. Transit permits for signs on transit benches and routes, at official transit stops.  

Outdoor Advertising Sign Permit. These permits can be for sign sizes up to the maximum of 14’ x 48’ and may contain any message or information the sign owner wants. However, the permits can be difficult to obtain and is a private transaction between the current permit holder and the party wishing to purchase the permit.

​Oregon does not issue “new” permits, except for Transit Permits. Permits that existed prior to the law change on May 31, 2007, are called “preexisting” sign permits and may be reconstructed, relocated or sold, at which time updated permits are issued for the reconstruction, relocation or sale of the sign. If  an outdoor advertising sign has been on site continuously since 5/31/07, being utilized as an outdoor advertising sign, please contact the sign program about the possibility of qualifying for an outdoor advertising sign permit.

When preexisting permitted signs is no longer being used, and is removed from its permitted location, a Relocation Credit may be requested. The Department keeps a record of Relocation Credits so they can be used by the credit owner, for placing a sign at a legal location in the future. Relocation Credits can be bought and sold in the private market, A list of owners or relocation credits is maintained by the Department and is a public record that is available upon request. There are limitations on size and location associated with outdoor advertising sign permits and relocation credits. Please contact the Department prior to purchasing, if you have any questions. Once permit or credit has been purchased, an application will need to be completed through this office to get an updated permit to build a sign at a new site.

​These permits are for placing signs on existing public transit benches or shelters. See the application packets to view the requirements.

Technically we don’t issue any brand new permits. Instead, we reuse the permits that existed as of May 31, 2007, when the new law was passed. We call these preexisting permits. We issue updated permits for new signs and new locations.
When one of these permits is not being used, records are kept so that it can be used again. In this state they gather “relocation credits,” which can be bought and sold. You will need a preexisting permit or relocation credit to apply for this type of permit.

A list of owners of relocation credits is included in the application packet. Contact us before purchasing. The permit you buy limits the size of your sign and how far away from its original location you may build. Once you own that permit or credit, you apply to this office to get an updated permit to build a sign at a new site. 

​Three types of signs are exempt from the permit requirement.

Temporary Signs:

Signs that are up for less than 60 days in a year, are no more than 12 square feet, and not posted for compensation may be exempt from needing a permit. As additional criteria apply, please see ORS 377.735. 

Under statute ORS 377.735, signs up to 32 square feet may qualify for a size variance. To request a variance, please submit ODOT form 734-5123 Request for Size or Time Variance for Temporary Sign.

Signs of a Governmental Unit:

A city, county, or other unit of government may place a sign for the purposes of carrying out their official duties.

For more information please see ORS 377.756. 

Public Safety & Convenience Signs:

A sign, no more than six square feet, that guides the public in the use of the highway system, may be exempt. Examples include signs for restrooms and freight entrances. 

Please refer to ORS 377.735(4) for more information.


Outdoor Advertising Sign Program

4040 Fairview Industrial Drive, MS 2
Salem, Oregon 97302
Phone: 503-986-3656
Fax: 503-986-3625

Program Contacts

Phone: 503-986-3656
Phone: 503-986-3635

Resources and Related Content

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