Iowa Road Signs

FAQ - BILLBOARDs



Select a question below to reveal the answer.

Is there a difference between a 'Billboard', an 'Off-Premise sign', or an 'advertising device'?

No, all are considered to be one for purposes of advertising control.

Can anyone have a Billboard or do I need to go through a Billboard company?

Anyone can get a permit to erect a sign if the area is conforming.

How do I know if a sign needs a permit or not?

Any sign that advertises a product or activity that does not take place on the same property as the sign is required to have a permit.

Why can't I have a sign on my own property?

You can, as long as what you advertise takes place on your property.

If I only want a little sign and not a billboard, do I still need a permit?

Yes. The issue is not so much size of the sign but, rather, what is being advertised on the sign and where the product or activity is located. Billboards can be in many sizes, with a single face being limited to a maximum 1200 square feet and a back-to-back or "V" sign limited to a maximum 750 square feet per direction.

How can the State control what people do on private property?

The Department of Transportation is required by law to control advertising whether the sign is on the highway right-of-way or private property. These laws are contained in Sections 306B and 306C of the Code of Iowa and Chapter 117 of the Iowa Administrative Code.

Iowa Laws and Rules

What are the costs involved?

Fees are currently $100 per face. Any changes will be listed in the Guide to Iowa Outdoor Advertising Sign Regulations.

I only need a sign for a short period of time. Do I still need to have a permit?

Yes, a permit is required for all billboards (located off-premise) regardless of the length of time it will be in place.

I would like to place a message on both sides of my sign. Will it require two permits?

Yes, the only exception being a sign that is 32 square feet or less and has the identical message on both sides of the sign, then only one permit is needed.

Can I get a permit to place a sign anywhere?

The following answer applies only to off-premise billboards located on non-interstate highways.

Off-premise billboards located on interstates are more restricted and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Permits can only be issued in areas that are zoned commercial or industrial if the location is subject to a local zoning ordinance. In areas that are not subject to a local zoning ordinance, permits can be issued within 750 feet of a qualifying commercial activity located on the same side of the highway as that activity. Other requirements such as size, lighting, and spacing also apply.

For specific information regarding these matters see the Guide to Iowa Outdoor Advertising Sign Regulations.

How do I apply for an outdoor advertising/Billboard/Off-Premise sign permit?

Download the Outdoor Advertising Application (currently requires Internet Explorer to open)