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Outdoor Advertising Sign Program Resources


Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, there are circumstances when a permit is required, such as:

  • If compensation will be exchanged for posting the sign.
  • If the sign is not located at a place of business or location open to the public.

A permit is not required if no funds are exchanged and the sign is located at a place of business or other location open to the public.

"For compensation" rules apply when anything of value is exchanged between parties for posting information on a sign structure, such as a billboard. Items of value include, but are not limited to:

  • Money.
  • Goods or services.
  • Forgiveness of a debt.
  • Consideration of a past or future action or payment.
  • Erection of the sign.

Exclusions to this rule include payment to the sign builder or laborer for the physical act of initially building or erecting the sign structure.

No. Signs are not allowed in the state highway right-of-way. 

This includes those defined as temporary. Any sign placed in highway right-of-way is done so illegally.

Official highway signs are excluded from this rule.

The highway right-of-way is state-owned property that includes the roadway and often additional property alongside the pavement.

This property is used to enhance road safety, held for future road projects, and so on.

The width of the right-of-way varies depending on the location. Within the limits of a given city, the right-of-way may only extend from curb to curb. In other areas, the right-of-way may extend 200 feet or more beyond the pavement.

As right-of-way boundaries are not always clearly marked, local ODOT districts can provide assistance in determining these boundaries.

​A business is defined as a commercial enterprise operated with the intent of economic gain.

A permit is not required when a business - visible from a highway - posts signs at the location of business, about the business. This also applies to activities that are open to the public.

Operations not classified as a business under sign regulations, and therefore subject to permitting rules include:

  • Agricultural or forest land.
  • Residential buildings.
  • Businesses operating outdoor advertising sign structures.

​An activity open to the public is defined as a location in which the& main purpose is to provide a service to the public. Such locations include:

  • Charitable organization centers.
  • Political campaign headquarters.
  • Churches or other worship facility.
  • Community centers.
  • Community parks.

Signs posted at a location of this nature are exempt from permit requirements if no compensation is exchanged between the involved parties.

Yes, state sign regulations apply to all state and federal highways, regardless of whether the sign is inside or outside the limits of a city.

Some permit requirements change within a city. For example, the law requires more distance between signs outside city limits, than within.

In addition, sometimes the state transfer a state highway to a 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.​

Occasionally the state transfers ownership of a highway to a county or city jurisdiction. In certain circumstances, federal law requires ODOT to continue it responsibilities to regulation the signs on that roadway.

Oregon laws regulate the placement of signs to protect our state's unique beauty and to improve driver safety by reducing the visual distractions that signs can cause.

Signs that are visible from state highways are subject to regulation, including those located on private property.

Oregon is required to meet or exceed federal standards for sign regulation or risk losing 10 percent of its annual highway funding. This amounts to approximately $45 million per year in highway construction and maintenance funding that could be lost if the state does not comply.


For exact, legal definitions, please consult the Oregon Revised Statutes and Oregon Administrative Rules. If you cannot find a term of interest, please contact our office.

Outdoor Advertising Sign Program

4040 Fairview Industrial Drive, MS 2
Salem, Oregon 97302
Phone: 971-375-8148
Fax: 503-986-3625

Program Contacts

Phone: 971-375-8148
Phone: 503-559-5295

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