|Outdoor Advertising in Montana
Congress passed the Highway Beautification Act to control and limit signs along the interstate and primary highways which allows the traveling public to enjoy the nation's scenic beauty.
The Montana Legislature also enacted laws consistent with the federal act. Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is responsible for enforcing these laws, and failure to do so could jeopardize millions of dollars in highway construction funds.
Outdoor advertising signs are not prohibited, but there are specific limitations such as where they may be located, how close they can be to other permitted signs, how large they can be, and how they must be maintained.
Application forms and fee schedules are available from the Right-of-Way Section of any MDT district office. The application fee is calculated by the size of the proposed sign face. If the sign has multiple faces, the fee is determined by the square footage of the largest single sign face. District Right-of-Way personnel can calculate the exact costs for you. If the application is approved, a permit will be issued and a fee assessed. After the initial three-year period, the permit may be renewed every three years thereafter without completing a new application. We'll notify the owner when the renewal fee is due.
Before the permit can be issued, we'll carefully consider the application and inspect the proposed location to be sure the sign will meet all requirements. If the sign is located on land owned by someone other than the sign owner, the landowner's written permission is required. Also, some cities, towns and counties have local sign ordinances or regulations, so you'll need to get written approval from the local zoning authority before we can review the permit. Please allow plenty of time to complete this process.
Permits are not required for signs advertising the sale or lease of the property on which they're located or for a sign located on the property near the activity it's advertising.
For example, motel, restaurant, service station or store signs don't need permits. These are called "on-premise" signs. It's important that you check for local government ordinances or regulations that may apply to on-premise signs. If you believe your sign is on-premise, you should check with a right-of-way agent for confirmation.
Unpermitted signs are unlawful and must be removed. We'll notify the sign owner and landowner to give them ample time to remove the sign. If the sign isn't removed, we will remove it, and the costs will be assessed to the sign owners and landowners.
Again, you will need to visit with a right-of-way agent to get an application for a sign permit. There are numerous details that must be considered and approved before issuing a permit that aren't illustrated in this brochure.
Permit requirements include: