Oversize Loads vs. Superloads: What’s the Difference?

Hauling a larger-than-usual load comes with its own set of challenges, both logistical and legal. But these challenges vary widely when comparing an oversize load with a superload.

Let’s take the State of New York’s rules on these two classifications as an example:

1. Oversize Loads

On state highways in New York, an oversize permit is necessary for a vehicle that is – inclusive of load – over 8 feet wide, 13.5 feet tall or 40 feet long (if a single vehicle); 65 feet long (if a combination of vehicles); or 48 feet long (if a single trailer). If you’re only exceeding the limit in length and are hauling objects like poles, girders or columns, no oversize permit is required.

2. Superloads

In contrast to oversize load permits, superload permits take longer to obtain and can mean a lot of extra headaches for the hauler. In New York, a vehicle qualifies as a superload if it’s over 16 feet wide, 16 feet tall, 160 feet long or over 200,000 lbs. in gross weight. Going over just one of these dimensions will qualify your load as a superload. On top of the logistical considerations of moving a superload on public roads, bureaucracy is a huge potential headache. Getting a superload permit approved means a more extensive review process, more limitations for the haul, the need to hire state-vetted escort support, and in New York, submission of a surety bond to the state.