Over-legal Vehicles and Loads
Over-legal vehicles and loads: Vehicles or loads exceeding the maximum height, width, and/or length as specified by State and City laws.
Authorized over-legal vehicle traveling on city streets
All over-legal loads traveling within the City are required to obtain a special permit which allows operation or movement of a vehicle, a combination of vehicles, or special mobile equipment of a size or weight (fixed loads) that exceeds maximums specified by state law. City Ordinance 117393 authorizes Seattle Transportation to issue such permits.
Obtaining a permit for over-legal vehicles and loads
The City issues permits for over-legal vehicles at the Traffic Permit Counter, located at the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue, 37th Floor, Seattle, WA 98104-5043, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays.
Click Here to download an application. You may complete and return via mail or fax (206) 684-5085. This enables our staff to prepare your permits and have them waiting when you pick them up. Permit fees must be paid for at the same time the permits are picked up. Permits may be used only on the vehicles to which they have been issued. The City accepts cash and checks (made out to the City of Seattle), and also Visa and Master Card credit cards.
Possession of permit
- Permits for over-legal vehicles moving within the City must be in the vehicle at all times.
- The permit must be available for inspection by any C.V.E.O. (Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer), police officer, or any other employee charged with the care or protection of city streets.
- Permits may be used only on the vehicle for which they are valid.
- Permits are valid only on the specific streets that are identified on the permit.
- Permits are NOT granted for over-legal vehicle movement during peak traffic periods (7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.), Monday through Friday, except holidays.
- Over-legal load movement is NOT permitted during peak traffic periods.
Validation numbers reflect day-to-day routes and streets to be used for movement of all over-legal vehicle on city streets. Validation numbers work in conjunction with City, County and State over-legal vehicle permits. Enforcement officers will give citations to drivers who do not have validation numbers or who are not on their specified route. The following is more specific information about getting and using your permit validation number.
- Validation numbers are free of charge and may be obtained quickly. They are given verbally by Seattle Transportation staff. Call (206) 684-5086.
- Validation numbers must be obtained daily and posted on the original permit.
- Validation numbers are issued up to 24 hours in advance of a given move.
- When entering and/or exiting the Downtown Traffic Control Zone, vehicles 30 feet or longer that possess City-issued annual permits are required to obtain validation numbers. (See Downtown Traffic Control Zone section below.)
- State-issued permits for over-legal loads also require City-issued validation numbers. State permits may be validated for use ONLY within Seattle if the move makes use of state highways and either begins or ends outside city limits.
- Validation numbers are required for all moves involving Seattle Transportation Commercial Vehicle Enforement Officers (CVEO). Traffic escorts must be obtained before escorts are scheduled.
- Seattle Transportation CVEO traffic escorts must be scheduled 12-48 hours in advance of a given move.
- Validation numbers are not granted for state permitted vehicles to travel into the Downtown Traffic Control Zone when vehicles are longer than 30 feet. Entering this area requires a special one-day permit that is available from Seattle Transportation Traffic Permits. The permit fee is $12.00.
Downtown Traffic Control Zone regulations
The Downtown Traffic Control Zone is an area bounded by the streets indicated on the map (see link below). Restrictions in this highly-congested area are necessary for traffic management.
Link to Map of Downtown Traffic Control Zone
- Vehicles over 30 feet in length are restricted Monday through Saturday between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Special permission is required.
- Over-legal loads are not permitted in the Downtown Traffic Control Zone between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Special permits must be obtained for any movement in this area. State permitted over-legal loads and vehicles must also obtain a special one-day permit for movement in the Downtown Traffic Control Zone. The fee is $12.00.
Over-legal vehicle travel requirements
The following information indicates the operational requirements that must be satisfied before permits or validation numbers are issued for movement on streets within the City of Seattle.
Note that certain streets may require pilot cars, whether or not that information is specifically indicated in the requirements that follow:
- TWO-LANE ROAD: Front and rear pilot cars are required when the vehicle and/or load extends beyond the center line or the center of the roadway.
- MULTIPLE-LANE ROAD: One rear pilot car is required when the vehicle and/or load is 12 feet - 13 feet , 11 inches.
- Both a front and rear pilot car are required when the vehicle and/or load is 14 feet to 15 feet, 5 inches.
- A Seattle Transportation CVEO Traffic escort is required when the vehicle and/or load is 15 feet, 6 inches or over.
Issuing permits for overweight vehicles and/or loads beyond the licensed gross weight enables the City to restrict vehicle travel in areas where there is a possibility of damage to streets or their underground structure.
- Single-axle weight shall not exceed 20,000 pounds.
- Dual-axle weight shall not exceed 34,000 pounds.
When load height exceeds the legal limit, it becomes the responsibility of the permit holder to check all underpasses, bridges, overhead wires or any other structures for impaired vertical clearance, and to bypass or arrange clearance at such locations. If you have any questions, call Seattle Transportation Traffic Permits at (206) 684-5086.
- 14’1” through 14’11” high: 1 pilot car, front
- 15’ 0” through 15’ 5+” high: 2 pilot cars, front and rear
- 15’ 6” high or over: City of Seattle Commercial Vehicle Enforcement escort required
- One rear pilot car is required if the vehicle is 81 to 89 feet long.
- Both front and rear pilot cars are required if the vehicle is 90 to 99 feet long.
- A Seattle Transportation CVEO Traffic escort is required if the vehicle is 100 feet or more.
- A vehicle 100 feet or more in length is also required to have, between the driver of the vehicle and the end of the load, a manned steering trailer equipped with a communication device.
- The overhang may not exceed one-third of the overall length of the vehicle.
- One rear pilot car is required if the overhand is 15 feet from the rear axle. One front pilot car is required if the overhand is 15 feet from the rear axle.
Moving a building
- Regardless of size, all building moves require Seattle Transportation CVEO Traffic escort. An application must be submitted at least 21 days in advance of a move.
Over-legal vehicle operation on non-arterial streets
Except authorized buses, no vehicles exceeding 10,000 pounds of gross weight are permitted to operate on residential streets. Exceptions:
- When a vehicle is making a delivery
- When a vehicle is traveling to, or from, an in-street work area.
Repair of damage and liability during movement of over-legal vehicle loads
By accepting a permit, the permit holder agrees to repair, at his or her expense, any damage to highway appurtenances or structures. If it is necessary that City crews repair damage, the permit holder will pay any costs incurred. The permit holder is responsible for all liability for injury to death of any person, or damage to property that may occur through any act or emission of either the permittee or the City arising from the issuance of a permit. In the event that any claim, suit or action is brought against the City, its officers, employees or agents, permit holders shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless the City, its officers, employees, or agents from such claim, suit or action.
For more information, call (206) 684-5086.