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Highway Advertising Control

Photos of Advertising on State of Washington Highways
Advertising Sign Control Folio (pdf 386kb)

Billboards and other advertising signs are regulated by state and federal laws on most state highways. Read the WSDOT's Highway Advertising Control booklet, M22-95. WSDOT issues advertising sign permits for locations on private property along regulated state highways within commercial or industrial areas. There is a one-time $300 non-refundable permit application fee per sign structure. These permits are valid for the year in which they are issued and must be renewed on an annual basis; there is no renewal fee.

Motorist Information Signs - are placed along state highways to alert travelers about services available at upcoming interchanges or intersections. Learn more.

Advertising Agricultural Products Along State Highways - Permits are available to advertise agricultural products on private property along all state highways except Interstate highways. These directional signs may be installed during the period of time that the seasonal agricultural products are being sold. There is a $50 permit fee and the permits are valid for five years.

Advertising at Safety Rest Areas on State Highways - Businesses also have the option of purchasing advertising space on displays in 20 Safety Rest Areas around the state. This program provides displays for brochures and other advertising features. In rest areas, the only requirement is that your services be of interest to travelers.  

Advertising on Washington State Ferries - Businesses may also purchase advertising space on six Washington State Ferry runs and at four terminals. This program provides displays for brochures and other advertising features. For more information about this program, contact WSDOT’s sales contractor:

Political Campaign Signs - Only traffic control signs are allowed in the state highway right-of-way. Maintenance crews will remove all illegal roadside signs.

Under the Washington Administrative Code 468-66, temporary political signs are allowed on private property as ”on-premise” signs; and no fee or permit is required. To legally post campaign signs visible from state highways, the property owner must give consent, and the signs must comply with all provisions of WAC 468-66, as well as any local agency sign ordinances.

It’s not always easy to know if a given location is within the boundaries of a state highway right-of-way, but there are clues in many locations:

  • Utility poles are typically located inside the right-of-way. If a sign location is being considered between a utility pole and the roadway shoulder, it’s likely the sign will be removed.
  • Many locations also have a fence line separating the right-of-way from private property. If a sign location is being considered on the roadway side of a right-of-way fence, it’s probable that the sign is in violation and will be removed.

The best way to determine where a state highway right-of-way boundary lines is to check with WSDOT Outdoor Advertising Specialist Pat O’Leary at 360-705-7296.