The Department of Transportation of each jurisdiction regulates specialized and oversized transportation. This means that each province will likely have separate permit classifications and requirements for oversize loads. These classifications depend on various factors, which include length, height & overhang, weight as well as many other factors.

The reason why an oversized load requires higher standards are based on various factors and conditions involved in the transport process. Also, each jurisdiction considers public safety and road conditions in addition to the time of year when they decide on size and weight restrictions.

It’s this varying set of qualifications, which makes it very important to keep in mind what jurisdiction and regulations are involved during transport. If these qualifications are ignored, then fines are usually issued.


Oversized loads are defined in Canada as any combination of road transport exceeding 75 feet in length, 8’6” inches in width, and 13’6” inches in height.

Canada’s restrictions are managed and enforced by the province traveled on. It’s important to keep in mind that as the size and weight of oversize loads go up, organizations may need to contact the province to determine which routes are ideal for transport.

There are some general rules to follow, but the details can be much more granular depending on where and when goods are being transported.

The classification of the freight is determined by the weight of its contents. In Canada, the maximum per axle limit is determined by each province rather than the overall vehicle weight. In Ontario, a truck is legally allowed to load 12,000 pounds on the steer axle, 39,600 pounds on a tandem axle, and 59,400 pounds on a tridem axle, which amounts to a total gross weight of 111,000 pounds. Any combination of vehicles exceeding these legal axles or gross weights needs an oversize permit in Ontario.


The province or one of its municipalities may choose to impose an escort vehicle once loads reach a certain weight. This is because when a truck with an oversized load is approaching, escort vehicles are supposed to move in front or behind it to warn traffic and pedestrians. This also ensures that everyone uses extra caution while a vehicle with an oversized load is passing by.

Each province has its own set of criteria for when an escort vehicle is needed, and this often varies considerably from one to the next. Any load that is more than 12’7″ wide in Alberta, for example, will need an escort vehicle. When the load reaches Saskatchewan, an escort is only required if the width of the truck exceeds 16’4″ or if it straddles a two-lane highway’s centerline.


In the United States, as in Canada, size and weight limitations are determined by state legislation and the section of road on which the excessively heavy cargo is transported.

For a few of the states west of the Mississippi River, permits are not required if the load is no more than 14 feet high. On the other hand, a load that is 13’11” tall would be considered oversize in Michigan and require a permit, while it could be transported without one in Texas.



In Canada, you don’t need a permit to transport loads of more than 80,000 pounds gross weight. But in the United States, any load weighing more than 80,000 pounds gross is defined as oversized. Also, each state within the United States has its own maximum axle weight limits to consider.

In the low population density areas, oversize weight restrictions are less tight than in the exceedingly crowded East Coast states. A load in North Dakota may travel up to 16 feet wide and 18 feet high without an escort car, but in New York, any load greater than 12 feet wide and 14 feet tall requires the use of an escort vehicle.

These are just some of the reasons why the cost and methods for transporting oversized loads can vary dramatically from transport to transport. In most cases, the regulations and associated costs change considerably from state to state or country to country.


While there are general dimensions that determine whether a truck is oversized, this can change depending on the location of the transport. Many regulations and standards are dependent on the state or province, so it’s crucial to know these beforehand to ensure safe and legal transport.

Journey Freight™ has a wealth of experience in moving specialized and oversized cargo around the globe. As the complexity of the project develops, so does the demand for expertise, proficiency, and communication. Understanding the criteria by which project cargo needs to be executed is the basis of our success. From HVAC to aeronautics, mining, and construction, going above and beyond to align your specialized cargo seamlessly is what we do.

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