How to Ship Oversized Loads: Key Points


What is Heavy Haul Transportation?

Shipping oversize loads are not the same as shipping your typical less-than-truckload (LTL) or full truckload (FTL) freight. It can be complicated if you do not understand the entire process. Before shipping your oversize freight, educating yourself on the topic is crucial since large equipment is expensive and can become dangerous if not handled properly. PLS has outlined essential information you need to know about how to ship oversized loads.

How to Ship Oversized Loads


Heavy haul, oversize load, or wide load is a shipment that goes beyond legal limits for weight, size, or dimensions and requires specialized equipment for handling. Usually, heavy hauls are industrial shipments like steel and mining products, large machinery, aircraft parts, and various smaller steel equipment. Understanding all regulations before shipping your oversize freight is crucial to ensure safety.

Legal Regulations

Abiding with legal restrictions on shipping an oversize load is challenging because every state, municipality, or city may have different required laws and permits. Apart from size regulations, there are also restrictions on when and how the drivers can transport oversize loads. For example, many cities only permit carrying a heavy haul during the daytime for safety reasons. Other regulations can prohibit moving on certain roads or during certain hours. Not having a permit or having the wrong one can cost you lots of time and money, considering that you can incur a fine, and the load most likely won’t make it to the destination on time or at all.

Whether you’re a frequent shipper or a one-time-mover, there are permit options for you. There are three categories of permits: one-time hauls, multiple similar hauls, or annual permits for the movement of regularly produced hauls. Fees vary state-to-state, but most permits are less than $70 for a basic load. To apply for a permit, you must first understand the details of your oversize load.

What are the measurements of oversize freight?

Navigating the waters of over-dimensional cargo can be tricky, so it is crucial to understand the legal limits of your oversize freight. In the U.S., your load is considered oversize if it exceeds 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m) in width, 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m) in height, and is more than 48-53 ft in length. However, these measurements are generalized. Remember, every state has its own oversize load regulations, so be sure to check your relevant load dimensions for your specific state.

The two most popular trailers for oversize shipping loads are flatbeds and step decks. Flatbeds and step decks allow product hangover, making them perfect for shipping oversize loads. A typical flatbed trailer is 48 ft long and 8.5 ft wide. As the name implies, a step deck is separated into two sections with a step in between. The smaller, raised platform is 11 ft long and 8.5 ft wide, whereas the longer, lower deck is about 40 ft long and 8.5 ft wide.

How to Ship Oversized Loads: Best Practices

Know Your Shipment

Make sure you have accurate information on the load. It’s crucial to know the exact dimensions of every inch. Since permits and regulations often depend on your freight measurements, a slight discrepancy may result in shipping disruptions.

Before finalizing the move, you must communicate the load description to your transportation provider in your documentation. It’s essential to know what equipment and tools to load, secure, and move your shipment safely. Before starting the transportation process, specify all the additional handling requirements.

Plan Ahead

Don’t try to push it out at the last second – it’s very likely to end in a disaster. Moreover, you are likely to pay more since rates tend to be higher on last-minute loads.

You may need escorted shipping services, a special vehicle, or other assistance. Typically, loads larger than 12 feet wide, or 14 and ½ feet high, or exceeding 90 to 100 feet in length, require two escort cars or pilot cars. Pilot cars drive in front of and behind the oversize load to ensure safe transportation for everyone on the road. Learn more about pilot cars and what oversize loads require escort services in each state.

Take your time to research and make sure you know what you need. Allow your transportation provider to secure proper equipment and permits. Work some planning time into your shipping schedule to minimize the risks, which may result in significant time and money losses.


Having a transportation management system (TMS) becomes even more crucial when shipping oversize freight. Access to a TMS significantly increases visibility when planning and executing the shipment of products. Shipping an oversized load is more complicated than shipping your typical LTL or FTL freight, so knowing exactly where your product is during transit is essential. PLS Pro is a user-friendly TMS system built by PLS to help shippers increase efficiency and customer service while saving time and money.

Find a Transportation Company

A critical step in arranging a heavy haul shipment is partnering with a reliable third-party logistics company. Arranging transportation of oversize freight can cause a lot of stress, time, fines, or fees and still won’t ensure a successful outcome. An experienced shipping partner will execute the most burdensome work, including obtaining a carrier, negotiating the price, getting permits, providing freight management, and expert consulting.

Heavy Haul Trucking with PLS Logistics

PLS Logistics Services has over three decades of experience as a leading transportation company for oversize and heavy haul shipments for many industries. We have a carrier network with over 55,000 companies to find you the best rate when you need to move your freight. Need to ship a heavy haul? Check out our solutions for oversize loads and request a free quote today!

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