A Helpful Guide to Over Dimensional Flatbed Shipments


When flatbed shipping dimensions are more than the standard legal size, the shipment is considered over-dimensional. Shippers have to pay attention to their freight’s weight and dimensions, especially if it will be shipped on an over-dimensional flatbed trailer.

What is a flatbed trailer?

The flatbed trailer is a type of open deck equipment with no sides and no roof, mainly used for transporting industrial commodities. The flatbed trailer is very versatile, making them a common asset for carriers. It is a basic form trailer, with no sides or roof, providing quick and easy loading and unloading. These trailers are most commonly used for moving industrial commodities (e.g. steel coils, plates, etc.). In practice, ‘flatbed’ is often used as a general term for a few different types of open deck equipment, including:

  • Step decks
  • Double drop decks
  • Lowboys
  • Conestoga

Flatbed trailer sizes and legal flatbed dimensions

A legal flatbed trailer’s load cannot exceed 8’6” high, 8’6” wide, 48’ long with an average weight around 45,000 pounds but exceeding 80,000 pounds. With traditional flatbed trailers, the driver’s view is not obstructed.

  • A flatbed trailer is 48 to 53 ft in length
  • Can be loaded from any direction (overhead crane, forklift side, forklift rear)
  • The standard dock height is 4 ft. off the ground
  • Loads often require tarps

Oversized flatbed dimensions

Over-dimensional flatbed trailers can handle freight as long as 160’ long, 18’ high, 18’ wide, and about 200,000 pounds. Over-dimensional flatbeds have between 18 and 40 wheels. More often than not, over-dimensional freight obstructs a driver’s view in several ways. In this scenario, certified pilots would be needed to cover the front and rear of the trailer. They will stay in constant communication with the driver to ensure the shipment goes smoothly.  

Information shippers must know before obtaining over-dimensional trailer capacity:

  • Exact dimensions
  • Total weight
  • Address of origin and destination
  • Type of cargo
  • Time in transit

If the dimensions are off, it could cost the shipper thousands of dollars in transportation fees, especially if the shipment is passing across several state lines. Listing the wrong dimensions or weight could even lead to the use of improper equipment, which can be dangerous and/or lead to even bigger fines.

Rules change for over-dimensional freight as the freight gets bigger or the carrier crosses state lines. The more specific information the shipper can offer to the carrier, the better. Over dimensional flatbed, permits are typically inexpensive, but you need to ensure you have the correct ones.

To guarantee your over dimensional load is delivered on-time, every time, request a free freight assessment. We have pre-qualified, specialized carriers who have the right equipment for your oversized load. Want help shipping your freight? Contact us now!

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