Placing Signs, Ads and Memorials Along State Routes

How do I obtain permission to put up a sign?

Before you post a sign adjacent to a State highway, you need to contact the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) Outdoor Advertising Representative at your local district office. Signs governed by this rule include not just billboards but also yard sale, political, real estate, and other types of advertising signs.

Can I put my sign on the highway right of way or State property?

No. State property is reserved for official traffic control signs or devices. Other signs are distracting to motorists and potential safety hazards.

Why do I need a permit?

State and federal regulations and laws require permits to track the number, use, location, spacing, and maintenance of signs. Permits ensure that signs are properly maintained, removed when they have served their purpose, do not clutter roadsides, and do not create a safety hazard.

Can I put up a sign on my own property without an MDOT SHA permit?

Yes. However, you must still meet certain criteria.

  • The sign must only advertise activities or products available on the property. Signs advertising property for sale or lease must be located on the site advertised. The sign must be within 100 feet of the business activity (such as the edge of building or parking lot).
  • An off-premise advertising sign (advertising something not sold on the property with the sign) requires an MDOT SHA sign permit and must meet other requirements related to size, lighting, zoning, and spacing. 
  • Off-premise outdoor advertising signs are prohibited along designated Scenic Byways.

Do I also need a permit from the county, town or city?

Counties, towns and cities have their own sign regulations. You may need to get a permit from the locality, as well as from MDOT SHA. Make sure to contact your local government offices.

Where can I get an MDOT SHA sign permit application?

Download an application or obtain one from any MDOT SHA district office.

How much do MDOT SHA sign permits cost?

Permit price is based on the size of the sign and number of advertising faces. Contact your local MDOT SHA district office for permit fees. All sign permits must be renewed annually by April 30th. Out-of-state applicants must obtain a $1,000 Surety Bond before sign permits are issued.

How long does it take to get an MDOT SHA sign permit?

About two weeks.

Permit applications require the signature of the applicant, property owner, and local zoning board. You must also include a detailed site plan showing property lines, setbacks from the right of way, location of the sign on the property, State route number and intersecting road, and distances from other sign(s) on the property.

Once you have completed these requirements, you can usually receive your permit in approximately two weeks. Responsibility for securing these approvals rests with the applicant.

Does MDOT SHA Have a Policy Regarding Roadside Memorials?

Yes. Click here to view the MDOT SHA ​Roadside Memorial Policy.