Iowa Road Signs

FAQ - LOGO SIGNS



Select a question below to reveal the answer.

What is logo signing?

This is a specific motorist service signing program offered by the Iowa DOT. These are the blue service panels with GAS, FOOD, LODGING, CAMPING, or TOURIST ATTRACTION legends. They allow individual business sign logo placement on the panel.

Where can logo signing be installed?

Logo Signing is generally installed along the interstates and freeways in advance of interchanges. It is not used for signing "at-grade" intersections where stop signs or traffic signals are used, or where the side road intersects directly with the highway.

How much does it cost?

Currently, Logo Signing fees are $230/sign/year. A business that has four signs - one from each direction on the interstate/freeway and ramp signs for each ramp - would pay annual fees of $920. These fees pay for the costs associated with the maintenance and operation of the logo program.

What types of services can be on the Logo panels?

The five types of services are gas, food, lodging, camping, and tourist attractions.

Are there minimum requirements for businesses to qualify?

Yes. The businesses must be located within 3 miles of the exit, with some exceptions. The businesses must comply with all applicable laws concerning the provision of public accommodations without regard to race, religion, color, age, sex, or national origin.

Gas services must be appropriately licensed; provide fuel, oil, and water, free air or tire repair, restrooms, public telephone; and operate at least 12 hours per day, seven days a week, year-round.

Food services must be appropriately licensed; provide three meals a day (view meal waiver exception) and a public telephone; and be open a minimum of eight hours per day, six days a week. Food services must also have a minimum of 10 spaces available for customer seating.

Lodging services must be appropriately licensed; provide adequate sleeping accommodations and have at least 10 units (exception made for bed and breakfast establishments), and a public telephone.

Camping services must be appropriately licensed (if applicable); have a minimum of 20 spaces for camping or parking of camping vehicles; when in operation, be available to the public 24 hours per day, provide a public telephone, and agree to seasonal removal/masking of logo signs (if applicable).

Attractions must be appropriately licensed; be nationally or regionally known; maintain adequate hours of operation; provide restrooms and drinking water, adequate parking, a public telephone, agree to seasonal removal/masking of logo signs (if applicable), and qualify as one of the following: an area of natural beauty or phenomena; historic site; cultural site or museum; scientific site; four-year accredited college or university; religious site; area of outdoor recreation; winery, brewery, or distillery with on-site production, tours, gift shop, and tasting room; amusement park, botanical park, or zoological facility; casino; racetrack for horses, dogs, or motorized vehicles; antique mall with at least 20,000 square feet devoted to retail sales, area containing eight or more antique shops within a three-block radius; shopping mall or retail outlet with a minimum, active store count of 50, excluding kiosks and temporary booths within the common areas, and including only those stores that occupy owned or leased areas whose boundaries are defined by permanent walls with doors or gates; sporting goods store or recreational retail outlet with at least 100,000 square feet devoted to retail sales; cultural and entertainment district as officially designated by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, provided that the local jurisdiction implements a signing plan to direct motorists to the various cultural and entertainment sites within the district. Applications for tourist attractions will be reviewed by the Tourist Signing Committee.

For all services, the installation of trailblazing signs (up to a maximum of two) are required for those businesses that are not located on the intersecting roadway.

For in-depth information concerning the minimum Logo Sign requirements, view the Iowa Administrative Rules

Can my business have a ramp sign in addition to the main sign?

Businesses that are not visible from the ramp qualify for ramp signing. Some may qualify for ramp signing from one direction, but not the other. In some cases, ramp signing is not available.

My business is changing brands and I would like to change my logo signs. What should I do?

You should submit a new application (print an application – must be opened with Internet Explorer) and have your sign company submit a new sign design for approval approximately 60 days in advance of the changeover of your on-premise signs. You should provide the new logos to the Iowa Department of Transportation approximately 30 days in advance of the changeover. If logos are not received before the changeover has already occurred, the Iowa DOT will remove the existing logos and the spot on the logo sign will become available to other interested applicants. The date of availability will coincide with the changeover of the on-premise signing for the business that failed to supply the Iowa DOT with new logos, not the date of the physical removal of the logo signs by the Iowa DOT, which is subject to many other factors. If there is more than one applicant, a lottery drawing may be conducted, including the business that lost the spot if they remain interested.

My restaurant only provides two meals a day, instead of the required three meals a day. Is there a way I can still qualify for the logo program?

If there is space on the service panel, and no other fully qualifying business has applied, you may sign a meal waiver (meal waiver form) that allows for participation for those businesses only serving two meals a day. The meal waiver only waives the requirement for one meal. In order to qualify for food signing, the business must be open a minimum of eight hours per day, six days per week. Food service must be provided for the following hours to be considered as qualifying as a meal.

  • Breakfast: No later than 10 a.m
  • Lunch: At least encompassing the period of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Dinner: At least encompassing the period of 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

After a period of five years of participation, the business is subject to bumping from a fully qualifying business that has applied, and the business being bumped is the most senior participant on the sign that has waived a meal. The business subject to bumping may opt to provide a full complement of meals at that time in order to remain on the sign.

When are the annual fees due, and is there any grace period or penalties for late payment?

Fees are due each year on or before July 1. You should receive an invoice the end of April along with a second invoice the first part of June if the previous invoice was not paid. If for any reason you do not receive it, the fees are still due at this time. It is the business’ responsibility to contact us prior to billing when there is a billing address change. You may contact the Iowa Department of Transportation for billing information if you have any questions. If fees are not postmarked by July 1 or before, then a new application and $100 application fee should accompany your payment. For areas where service panels are full, late payment will result in the loss of a spot on the sign, and a lottery drawing will follow. The Iowa DOT does not assess late fees. However, if logos are removed after July 1, before payment is received, you will be assessed removal fees and reinstallation fees of $50 per sign, per service trip.

How can my business participate when the Logo service panel is full?

Logo panels are not technically full until six individual Logo Signs are attached to the panel. If that is the case, new applications cannot be approved until one of the businesses terminates participation (voluntarily or involuntarily). When an opening occurs, the department will survey the area and contact all of the non-participating businesses that qualify for the program. If interest exceeds the space available, a lottery drawing will be held to determine which business will participate. The department does not maintain waiting lists. Service panels that hold two, three, or four individual logos and are full, can be enlarged, but there is generally a significant delay as this work is often performed by a private contractor through a bid letting process.

If my business is closer than another business represented on the service panel, can I bump them off?

Only if you are in a closer three-mile increment than the other business and that business has had five years of participation from the date of signing a distance waiver.

What, specifically, are the distance requirements?

Businesses must be within three miles of the exit, measured from the beginning of the exit ramp taper. In cases where the number of qualifying businesses of a particular service exceeds eight, the department may reduce the limit of consideration to one mile.

If there are no qualifying services within three miles, the limit of consideration may be extended in three mile increments until a qualifying service, or 15 miles, is reached. If space is available on the Logo panel, a "distance waiver," allowing for participation, can be signed by a business that is beyond the distance limit, which allows for them to be bumped after five years, if a qualifying business applies which is within the distance limit specified for that interchange.

Who makes the Logo Signs?

Fabrication of the logo signs is your responsibility. All signs must conform to Iowa Department of Transportation’s specifications and the design must be approved by the Iowa DOT before fabrication begins. You may view this list of Logo Sign Fabricators* if you are not already familiar with a sign fabricator. If you have questions about this topic, contact Vicki Elscott in the Iowa DOT’s Office of Traffic and Safety.

* The list is provided for informational purposes only. We do not endorse any of the businesses contained on this list.

Who installs the Logo signs?

The Iowa DOT will install and maintain the Logo Signs after they pass inspection. All Logo Signs must be shipped to the Iowa DOT Sign Shop, 800 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50010, for inspection prior to installation.

At the interchange, there are no Logo panels. How can I still participate?

It's possible that there isn't enough room for the installation of the service panels at an exit. You may contact the Iowa DOT to verify this. If there is room, you may proceed with an application, but there will be several months delay before service panels can be installed.

Why is there a limit to six individual Logo Signs on a service panel?

Motorists can only comprehend a limited amount of information as they travel at 65 or 70 mph. Official signs are not like Billboards; Official signs are designed to provide basic motorist service information not an advertising medium for every business. State law is consistent with the federal law, which limits participation to six businesses on the service panel.

What are the sizes of the individual Logo Signs?

Gas signs are 3' x 4' (ramp signs are 16" x 24"). The other services are 3' x 5' (ramp signs are 16" x 36"). Trailblazers are 12" x 20" for all service types. Actual sign specifications can be obtained by contacting Vicki Elscott in the Office of Traffic and Safety.

How much information can I put on my Logo Sign?

You are limited to identifying the name of the business, or its registered logo/trademark emblem. Supplemental messages such as "Open 24 hours," "Diesel," "Mechanic on Duty," or months of operation for seasonal businesses may be accepted upon approval from the Iowa Department of Transportation. Any other supplemental information such as directions, slogans, promos, product identifications, prices, descriptors, or other advertising is prohibited.

My business is not located on the intersecting road. How will motorists find it?

Trailblazing signs (small signs with arrows on a service panel) can be used, up to a limit of two, to help direct motorists to your business. If more than two turns are required (not counting the turn off of the ramp), or if the trailblazers for some reason cannot be placed in conformance with state and local regulations, then your business does not qualify for the program. However, a legally placed billboard on private property at or near the intersection where the trailblazer was unable to be placed, can be used as a substitute for the trailblazer, at the department's approval.

I've seen Logo panels that combine types of services together onto one panel. Why is this necessary?

When there is limited room for the service panels, the department may choose to have one or more than one service type represented on a panel. There may also be locations where the department has chosen to combine services onto one sign to reduce the number of signs in the area. When combination signs are used, the minimum number of logos that can be placed on the sign remains at six.

How do I apply?