Doing Business with South Carolina Department of Transportation

Outdoor Advertising Guidelines

Guidelines that should help you understand the process of erecting outdoor advertising.

Signs Requiring Permits

The official definition of a sign that requires a permit covers a lot of structures:
Any sign structure or combination of structure and message in the form of outdoor sign, display, device, figure, painting, drawing, message, plaque, poster, billboard, advertising structure, advertisement, logo, symbol or other form which is designed, intended or used to advertise or inform, any part of the message or informative contents of which is visible from the main-traveled way.

One look at this definition and you can see why the best approach is to contact the Outdoor Advertising Coordinator as soon as you begin to think about advertising. It is the coordinators job to help you balance your need to advertise against the need to meet regulations and preserve the beauty of our highways.

Signs that do not require permits:

  • Official traffic control signs, markers, or information panels erected or approved by SCDOT.
  • Real estate signs (for sale or lease) located on the property they advertise.
  • "On Premise" signs (that is, signs located on the premise of the business they advertise).

Important: An "on premise" sign may still be subject to local regulations, even if you don't have to obtain a SCDOT permit. It is important, also, to be sure your sign qualifies as an "on premise" sign. You should check with the Outdoor Advertising Coordinator to be sure. Otherwise, the sign might be deemed unlawful, and you will have to pay the expense of having it removed.

Federal and State Requirements

The sign face may not be larger than 672 square feet. Regardless of how large it is in square feet, it's facing cannot be over 48 feet in height or longer than 60 feet.

Signs must be placed in areas that are zoned for commercial or industrial use. If the area is unzoned, it should be where commercial or industrial activities are located. It is the responsibility of SCDOT to determine what areas qualify for placement of signs.

If it is along an interstate highway or freeway (or a controlled access federal-aid primary highway), your sign must be located 500 feet away from any other sign, any interchange and any rest areas.

If your sign is located along a federal aid primary highway with no controlled access in rural unincorporated areas, it must be 300 feet away from other signs. Check with SCDOT to see if your proposed location meets these requirements.

A permitted sign must have a permit plate attached to it.

ODA Contact Information

In Person:
Outdoor Advertising Office
955 Park Street, Room 125
Columbia, SC 29202-0191

South Carolina Department of Transportation
Attn: Outdoor Advertising Office
P.O. Box 191
Columbia, SC 29202

(803) 737-1339
(803) 737-6383
(803) 737-2022 (Fax)

ODA Help

Related Documents:

Outdoor Advertising Nonconforming Sign Upgrade "Pilot" Program (PDF 11 Mb)
Outdoor Advertising Regulations (PDF 72.2 Kb)
The following portions of the regulation pertain to Outdoor Advertising: Title 63-341 through Title 63-356
The following portion of the regulation pertains to Junkyards: Title 63-358: Control of Junkyards
Federal Agreement (PDF 69.5 Kb)
ODA Vegetation Maintenance Policy - Section 6 (PDF 2.26 Mb)
ODA Vegetation Window Agreement - Appendix 4 (PDF 2.26 Mb)
SCDOT Vegetation Management Guidelines (PDF 2.26 Mb)
(Revised Feb. 2, 2016)

Related Links:

Outdoor Advertising
Outdoor Advertising Checklist
Outdoor Advertising Forms
ODA Fee Schedule
Outdoor Advertising Law
Junkyard Laws
Street Finder
Junkyard Regulations
National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies

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