California Department of Transportation
 

Frequently Asked Questions

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1. When do I need a Caltrans Transportation Permit ?
 

Eligibility for a Permit:

Permits can only be issued for the movement of loads and/or vehicles when there exists good cause and the loads and/or vehicles are reasonably non-divisible. General guidelines toward divisibility are:

Non-divisible means any load or vehicle **exceeding applicable length, width, height, or weight limits** which if separated into smaller loads or vehicles would:


1. Compromise the intended use of the vehicle, i.e., make it unable to perform the function for which it was intended;
2. Destroy the value for the load or vehicle, i.e., make it unable to perform the function for which it was intended;

*** For a more information on legal truck size and weight limitations please click here.

Permits cannot be issued to circumvent the California Vehicle Code. Permits cannot be used to allow movement of vehicles when placed out of service for size or weight infractions.
 
 
2. What types of permits are available, and how much do they cost ?
 
Single Trip* ($16):
  7 Consecutive Days Duration. A single trip permit is from a single origin to a single destination in one direction of travel.
   
Annual ($90):
  One-Year Duration. Available for certain envelope loads or specific vehicles on specified highways.
     
Repetitive ($90):
  Maximum of 90-Day Duration. Basically a single trip permit for the delivery of the same load over the same route on a repeated basis (i.e., Overwidth pipe to a project).
     
*For width over 15 feet, length over 135 feet, and special hauling equipment, see the section titled Variance Program.
 
 
3. How do I obtain a Caltrans Transportation Permit ?
 
First, complete the required Caltrans Transportation Permit application form.

There are several methods for obtaining the application form. Please see below.

Via this Web Site:
  Please click here to access our permit application forms and accompaniments. Please click here for application instructions.
     
Via our Transportation Permits Office:
  For information on how to contact our Transportation Permits Office, please click here.
     
Via a Permit Service:
  Experienced personnel who charge a fee to obtain a permit for their client. Recommended for applicants who are not familiar with program requirements.
     

Fax, mail, or deliver completed Caltrans Transportation Permit application forms to our office.

Transportation Permits office hours are from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

Walk-in counter service is available from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Faxed applications are accepted 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

  • The Permits office is open on three State holidays: Martin Luther King's Birthday, Cesar Chavez Day, and Veterans Day. Walk-in counter service is NOT available on these State holidays.
  • The Permits office is closed on: New Year's Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Day After Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

For information on how to contact our Transportation Permits office, please click here.

 
 
4. What are the acceptable methods for payment ?
 
Counter:
  Check, or credit card:
Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover(Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover)
     
     
Mail:
  Check, or credit card:
, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover(Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover)

(Include card number and expiration date in appropriate areas of application form).
     
     
Facsimile (Fax):
  Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover(Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover)

(Include card number and expiration date in appropriate areas of application form).
 
 
5. What are the required accompaniments ?
 
 
Accompaniment: (Click to View/Print *.PDF files)
Applicability:
1.
Permit Conditions (Effective April 2007) All Permits
2.
Special Conditions for Holiday Travel (Effective June 2005) Annuals and Single Trip Permits when travel extends through a holiday
3.
Special Conditions For 24/7 Travel (Effective July 2005) Annual and Single Permits
4.
Special Conditions for Loads and/or Vehicles escorted by Pilot Car(s) (Effective September 2005) All permits when a pilot car(s) is (are) required
5.
Special Conditions for Manufactured Housing at 14 feet or Less in Width (Effective May 2004) Annuals and Single Trip
6.
Special Conditions for Manufactured Housing in excess of 14 feet Wide - Manufacturer's Certification Single Trip
7.
Special Conditions for Manufactured Housing in excess of 14 feet Wide - Dealer's Certification Single Trip
(may substitute for Manufacturer)
8.
Special Conditions for Manufactured Housing in excess of 14 feet Wide - Transporter's Certification Single Trip
9.
Special Conditions for Tow Trucks Annual Permits
10.
San Diego Curfew Map When operating in an urban area and over 10 feet wide
11.
Los Angeles Curfew Map When operating in an urban area and over 10 feet wide
12.
Sacramento Curfew Map When operating in an urban area and over 10 feet wide
13.
San Francisco Curfew Map When operating in an urban area and over 10 feet wide
14.
Special Conditions for SFOBB (Effective July 2005) Annuals and Single Trip when crossing the SFOBB
 
 
6. What about the time and day of authorized travel ?
 
The time of day, and days of travel authorized are addressed in the Special Conditions for 24/7 Travel.
Please click on the link below to view and download the Special Conditions for 24/7 Travel.

Special Conditions For 24/7 Travel (Effective July 2005)

Loads that request travel during holidays, or travel across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge(SFOBB) may be subject to restricted travel days or times. Click on the links below for further information on day and time restrictions for travel during holidays, or for travel across the SFOBB.

Special Conditions for Holiday Travel (Effective June 2005)

Special Conditions for SFOBB (Effective July 2005)

Loads that exceed 10' in width are subject to curfew in the Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Francisco metropolitan areas. Please click on the links below for curfew maps.

Los Angeles Curfew Map

Sacramento Curfew Map

San Diego Curfew Map

San Francisco Curfew Map
 
 
7. In general, when are Pilot Cars and Highway Patrol Escort required ?
 
To view an excerpt from our Single Trip Pilot Car Map, click here.
 
To view the Red Route Summary Table for Single Trip applications, please click here.
 
For more information regarding pilot cars, please click here.
 
 
8. What about Lighting requirements ?
 

For enforcement reasons, these questions should be directed to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) @ (916) 843-3400.

In general:

Warning Lights

CVC Sec. 25270: Any pilot car required by the permit referred to in Section 35780 or 35790, or any vehicle or combination of vehicles subject to the permit if specified in the permit, shall be equipped with flashing amber warning lights to the front, sides or rear. The pilot car and any vehicles required by the permit to have flashing amber warning lights, shall display the flashing amber warning lights while actually engaged in the movement described in the permit. The warning lamps shall be removed or covered with opaque material whenever the pilot car is not escorting the movement described in the permit.

Lamp on Projecting Load

CVC Sec. 25103. Whenever the load upon any vehicle extends from the left side of the vehicle one foot or more, there shall be displayed at the extreme left side of the load during darkness: (a) An amber lamp plainly visible for 300 feet to the front and rear of the vehicle. (b) An amber lamp at the front visible for 300 feet to the front and a red lamp at the rear plainly visible for 300 feet to the rear of the vehicle if the projecting load exceeds 120 inches in length. The lamp shall not contain a bulb rated in excess of six candlepower.

Projecting Lights, Mirrors or Devices

CVC Sec. 35109: Lights, mirrors, or devices which are required to be mounted upon a vehicle under this code may extend beyond the permissible width of the vehicle to a distance not exceeding 10 inches on each side of the vehicle.

Clearance and Side-Marker Lamps

Shall comply with CVC Sec. 25100.

For more information related to lighting equipment, please refer to Division 12, Chapter 2 of the California Vehicle Code.

 
 
9. What about Warning Sign requirements ?
 

For enforcement reasons, these questions should be directed to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) @ (916) 843-3400.

In general:

Warning Signs on Loads and/or Vehicles

All loads and/or vehicles being moved on State highways which exceed 8'-6" in width, 80'-0" in length shall display appropriate warning signs.

Signs shall be posted on the front and rear of the vehicle or on the front of the lead vehicle and the rear of the back trailer with multi-vehicle combinations. The lettering shall be a 10-inch minimum height with a 1-5/8-inch minimum brush stroke, and a minimum 1-inch margin all around. All signs shall be black letters on a yellow background, mounted at least 18 inches above the road surface front and rear. Signs shall be neat, clean, legible, mounted securely and visible from straight ahead or behind and to 45-degree either side thereof.

Signs shall be posted on front and rear and shall read "LONG LOAD" or "OVERSIZE". The "LONG LOAD" sign shall be used whenever overall length exceeds 100 feet. The "OVERSIZE" sign shall be used for shorter lengths and other oversize features. The more definitive signs reading "WIDE LOAD", "LONG LOAD", "OVERSIZE LOAD", "EXCESSIVE FRONT OVERHANG" or "EXCESSIVE REAR OVERHANG" may be substituted for the "OVERSIZE" sign when appropriate. The "LONG LOAD" sign shall have preference when length exceeds 100-feet and other oversize features exist.

Warning Signs on Pilot Cars

CVC Sec. 27904.5: Subject to Section 35783.5, a pilot car shall display neat, clean, and legible signs containing the word "OVERSIZE." The words "OVERSIZE LOAD," "WIDE LOAD," or "LONG LOAD" may be substituted as applicable. The sign shall be a minimum of 48 inches above the ground and shall be legible at 45 degrees from either side when read from the front or rear. The sign shall have a bright yellow background with a minimum projected area of 440 square inches. The lettering shall be black with a 1-inch minimum brush stroke width and a 6-inch minimum letter height.

Removal of Warning Signs

CVC Sec. 35783.5: Warning signs required by the terms of a permit shall either be removed from the vehicle or covered from the view of other motorists whenever the vehicle is operating without the load that required the permit.

 
 
10. What about Flagging requirements ?
 

For enforcement reasons, these questions should be directed to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) @ (916) 843-3400.

In general:

Flags on Vehicles and/or Loads

CVC Sec. 25104: Any vehicle or equipment that requires a permit issued pursuant to Article 6 (commencing with Section 35780) of Chapter 5 of Division 15 because it is wider than permitted under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 35100) of Division 15 shall display a solid red or fluorescent orange flag or cloth not less than 12 inches square at the extreme left front and left rear of the vehicle or equipment, if the vehicle or equipment is being operated other than during darkness.

CVC Sec. 24604: Whenever the load upon any vehicle extends, or whenever any integral part of any vehicle projects, to the rear four feet or more beyond the bed or body of the vehicle, there shall be displayed at the extreme end of the load or projecting part of the vehicle during darkness, in addition to the required tail lamp, two red lights with a bulb rated not in excess of six candlepower plainly visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the sides and rear. At any other time there shall be displayed at the extreme end of the load or projecting part of the vehicle a solid red or fluorescent orange flag or cloth not less than 12 inches square.

Warning Flags on Pilot Cars

CVC Sec. 28100: A pilot car shall display at least one red warning flag on each side of the vehicle. The flags shall be a minimum of 16 inches square, and shall be mounted so as to be visible from both the front and rear of the vehicle. The flags shall be removed or covered when the vehicle is not operating as a pilot car.

Projecting Lights, Mirrors or Devices

CVC Sec. 35109: Lights, mirrors, or devices which are required to be mounted upon a vehicle under this code may extend beyond the permissible width of the vehicle to a distance not exceeding 10 inches on each side of the vehicle.

 
 
11. In general, what are the Maximum Permit Weights ?
 
Single Axle: 20,000 pounds in general. (per CVC Sec. 35550)
  20,000 pounds maximum on a steering axle.
  22,500 pounds on a single drive axle of a 2-axle tow truck.
  28,000 pounds on a single-axle mechanical distribution unit (MDU) heavy haul configuration and some fixed load applications.
   
  Note: No Single Axle shall exceed 30,000 pounds.
   
Tandem Axles: 46,725 pounds with 4'-6" axle spacing, 8-foot width, 4 tires per axle.
  58,406 pounds with 4'-6" axle spacing, 10-foot width, 8 tires per axle.
  60,000 pounds with a minimum 5'-9"axle spacing, 10-foot width, 8 tires per axle.
   
  Note: The maximum allowable axle spacing for a tandem axle is 8'-0".
   
   
Tridem: 51,450 pounds with 9'-0" axle spacing, 8-foot width, 4 tires per axle.
  52,500 pounds with 10'-0" axle spacing 8-foot width, 4 tires per axle.
   
  Note (1): The maximum allowable axle spacing for tridem axles is 10'-4".
  Note (2): For Tridem Bonus Purple Weight, see New Policy TPPM 2009-02.
   
Lift/Drop Axles: Lift axles do not qualify for extralegal weight and must be raised. See Policy TPPM 102-99 Lift Axles.
   
  Note: Axle weights must be within 10% of the average axle weight of the group for spring suspensions.
   
Axle groups with an axle spacing over 10 feet mounted to a common frame must be steerable.
   
  blue dotFor more information regarding Maximum Permit Weights on axle groups, please click here to view our Weight Charts.
 
 
12. What about Inspections and equipment reviews?
 

Vehicle inspections are performed to record data and evaluate the acceptability of extralegal vehicles.  A record is provided for the convenience of the owner and used by the Department when appropriate on permit application. Inspections will be required on:

  • Four-axle power units.
  • Tractors that exceed 20,000 lbs on the steering axle.
  • Fixed-load vehicles.
  • Heavy haul combinations routed as 9 axles or more.
  • Vehicles with mechanical distribution systems.
  • Vehicle combinations where there is reason to believe a weight distribution problem or a dimensional inconsistency exists.
  • Any change in ownership of a fixed-load vehicle will require re-inspection.
  • Boat trailers that require extralegal weight.

Inspections will be performed by Headquarters Permit Vehicle Inspectors. Headquarters Vehicle Inspectors may be reached at the following telephone numbers.

REGION
PHONE
Northern & Central California: (530) 941-0121
Southern California: (909) 223-8860

Note: Permit Vehicle Inspectors are often scheduled for inspections days or weeks in advance.
The transporter is encouraged not to wait until the last minute to request an inspection.

Equipment reviews may be requested when the vehicle equipment falls outside of the Department's extralegal load parameters or policies. Equipment reviews are performed by the HQ Equipment Engineer. A detailed check list is provided to assist in obtaining relevant vehicle information. All submittals are processed in a timely manner. For scheduling purposes, please allow a minimum of 20 business days for review. Once the review is complete, a letter containing the findings and decision will be issued.

HQ Equipment Engineer may be reached at the following telephone number (916) 654-4385. For additional information and check list, refer to the following link.

Equipment Reviews

 
13. When is a Variance Permit required ?
 
All applications over 15 feet in width, over 17 feet in height, over 135 feet in length, or on special hauling equipment which exceeds the Department's standard method of weight classification must be approved by special processing. Written route surveys are required from the applicant for heights greater than 17 feet.

Variance requests shall be submitted to the Transportation Permit Office no later than 30 days in advance of the proposed move. The application should be addressed "Attention Variance Coordinator." Applications shall include inspection reports, engineering justification from the manufacturer and drawing of the item(s) to be moved.

In addition to the above, the variance program provides a means to apply for exception to policy when good cause exists. Written application should explain the nature of the need for exception and what safety measures will be taken.
 
 
14. What is the maximum length/width for Manufactured Housing units ?
 

Maximum Width: 16'-0" including eves. No hardship program.

  • Units less than 12'-0" width require a tractor not less than 6,500 pounds.
  • Units at 12'-0" width or above require a tractor not less than 9,500 pounds.

Maximum Length: 80'-0" unit length including tongue.

Maximum Combination Vehicle Length:

  • 105'-0" for a two-axle power unit.
  • Unlimited for a power unit with three or more axles.
Manufactured Housing Unit permits can only be issued to licensed dealers, manufacturers, and haulers.
 
 
15. Any other requirements?
 
Caltrans only has authority to address size, weight, and times of movement as to safety. An oversize or weight permit does not relieve the applicant from any other rules, conditions, state law or federal law that may be applicable. In addition, Caltrans can only permit on State Highways. Travel on city streets and county roads must be accomplished under permit of the appropriate jurisdiction.


Department of Motor Vehicles:
  Commercial Registration (916) 657-7971
  Temporary Trip Registration (916) 657-7971
     
California Highway Patrol:
  Motor Carrier ID Number (916) 843-3400
  Safety, Log Book, and Legal Requirements (916) 843-3400
  Hazardous Material (916) 843-3445
  Flammable Material (916) 843-3445
     
Board of Equalization:
  Fuel Tax Permit (800) 400-7115
    (916) 322-9669
     
Federal Department of Transportation
  DOT Numbers and Safety Information (800) 832-5660
    (916) 930-2760

If there is a problem with any of the above numbers, please call Caltrans at (916) 654-3093. We will do our best to find the new number or responsible party.
 
 
16. How do I obtain a copy of the Transportation Permits Manual or the Single Trip Pilot Car Maps ?
 
  • The Transportation Permits Manual can be ordered from our Publications Unit. The cost is $27.00.
  • The Single Trip Pilot Car Maps can be ordered from our Publications Unit. The cost is $15.00.


Click here to go to the Publications Unit web site where you can view all available publications and download the forms necessary to place an order. You can also order directly using your credit card.

Publications staff can be reached at: (916) 263-0822, (916) 263-0865 or by fax at: (916) 263-0469.

 
 
17. How do I submit a request for a policy exception?
 
Click hereto view the procedures that should be taken in order to submit such a request.
 
 
18. How do I submit a request for an equipment review?
 
Click here to view the procedures that should be taken in order to submit such a request.
 
 
19. How do I submit a request for changes to pilot car map designation?
 
Click here first (guidelines) and then Click here (checklist) to view the procedures that should be taken in order to submit such a request.
 
 
20. How do I submit a request for a change to the Red Route Summary Table?
 
Click here to view the procedures that should be taken in order to submit such a request.
 
21. How do I submit a request for a change to the Route Color Classification?
 
Click here to view the procedures that should be taken in order to submit such a request.
 
 
22. When do I need a direct crossing permit?
 
Direct Crossing Permit:

Caltrans is authorized to issue a permit for a vehicle that crosses the highway from one property to another, pursuant to California law.  The permit, called a Direct Crossing Permit, exempts the vehicle from registration, as long as the vehicle is only crossing the highway and not traveling on the highway.   The allowable distance traveled under California law is determined on a case by case basis; there is no maximum distance in order to provide permit writers discretion in issuance of direct crossing permits. The requested route is verified by Transportation Permits Office staff.

*** For more information on Direct Crossing Permit please click here.

Please contact local authorities for direct crossing permits whenever there is a route which includes travel on streets, roads or highways within their respective jurisdictions.

Contact Permits staff for questions about transportation permits.

 

Revised 07/18/14