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State Highway Administration

Outdoor Advertising Rules and Regulations

Digital Billboard Display Technology – Review Report

A human factors Consultant was requested to critique reports prepared for industry on the emerging outdoor advertising digital display technology. Our concern is for highway safety driver distractions and inattentiveness. This report confirms the need for guidelines for the design, use and application of digital technology in outdoor advertising along our State’s streets and highways. The pursuit of these guidelines is a part of the TRB NCHRP 20-07 program. Download the Digital Billboard Display Technology – Review Report (140 KB, PDF)

What Do I have to do to put up a Sign?

Before you erect or post a sign adjacent to a State highway, you need to contact the Maryland State Highway Administration - Outdoor Advertising Representative, at one of our District offices listed on the back of this pamphlet. This includes not just billboards, but yard sale, political, real estate, and other types of advertising signs.

Can I put my sign on the highway Right-of-Way or State property?

NO.State property is reserved for official traffic control signs or devices. Other signs are distracting to motorists and considered a safety hazard.

Why do I have to get a permit?

State and Federal regulations and laws require permits so we can keep track of the number, use, location, spacing, and maintenance of signs. This also helps us ensure signs are properly maintained, removed when they have served their purpose, do not clutter our roadsides, and do not create a safety hazard.

Can I put up a sign on my own property, without a SHA permit?

YES. You must still meet certain conditions!

  • The sign must only advertise activities or products available on the property. Signs advertising property for sale,lease must be located on the site advertised.
  • The sign must be within 100 feet of the business activity ( such as the edge of building or parking lot )
  • An Off-premise advertising signs (advertising something not sold on the property where the sign is located) requires a SHA sign permit and must meet other requirements related to size, lighting, zoning, and spacing.
  • Off-premise outdoor advertising signs are prohibited along designated Scenic Byways.

Do I also need a permit from the county, town or city?

Counties, towns and cities have their own sign regulations. You may need to get a permit from the locality, as well as from SHA. Please check your phone book for the telephone number of your local government offices.

Where can I get an SHA sign permit application?

You can obtain an application from any District office on the back of this pamphlet.

How much do SHA sign permits cost?

Permits are based on the size of the sign number of advertising faces. Please contact your local SHA District Office for permit fees. All sign permits must be renewed annually and are due on April 30th. Out of State applicants must obtain a $1,000.00 Surety Bond, before sign permits are issued.

How long does it take to get a SHA sign permit?

Permit applications require the signature of the applicant, property owner, and local zoning board. You must also include a detailed site plan showing property lines, set backs from the right-of-way, location of the sign on the property, State Route No. and intersecting road, and distances from other sign(s) on the property. Once you have completed these requirements, you can usually get your permit in approximately 2 weeks. Responsibility for securing these approvals, rest with the applicant.

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Maryland Department of Transportation


707 North Calvert Street Baltimore, Maryland 21202