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.

Oversize loads are usually issued a special hauling permit for “permissible hauling days” with relatively little fuss, so long as an application is submitted in a timely fashion and all legal requirements for an oversize load are met. You generally won’t get an oversize load permit if you can break down your haul into smaller loads with a reasonable amount of effort. This can vary by state, as can standards on how oversize loads should be marked for safety. In New York, for example, wide loads require 18 x 18 red flags on the front and rear of the vehicle’s left side. Sometimes, oversize loads may need an escort. A permit specialist will know the ins and outs of each state’s requirements and help you jump through these bureaucratic hoops.

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.

If you don’t have a superload specialist helping you, navigating each state’s extensive requirements for this kind of haul can be like trying to solve a puzzle with pieces that keep changing shape. That’s why a permit services partner like The Permit Company can be such a big help. Whether you’ve got an oversize load or superload, we’ll help you figure out your haul.