Section 7: Exempt Signs

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Exempt Types

The following types of signs do not require an Outdoor Advertising License or Outdoor Advertising Sign Permit to be erected or maintained:

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  • On-premise signs meeting the on-premise sign criteria requirements.
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  • Signs erected for the purpose of protecting life or property, including those providing information about underground utility lines.
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  • Official signs erected by public officers or public agencies within their territorial or zoning jurisdiction pursuant to and in accordance with their authorization contained in law.
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  • Signs required by the Texas Railroad Commission at the principal entrance to or on each oil and gas producing property, well, tank or measuring facility to identify or to locate the property; such signs shall be no larger in size than is necessary to comply with the Texas Railroad Commission regulations and will have no advertising message other than the name or logo of the company and the necessary directions.
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  • Nonprofit service club, charitable association, religious organization, chamber of commerce, nonprofit museum, or governmental entity, that gives information about the meetings, services, events, or locations of the entity and that does not exceed an area of 32 square feet.
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  • Signs that are erected and maintained by a public school, a college or university, or a nonprofit agricultural fair, but only if the information presented on the sign is limited to information about the meetings, services, events, or on premise activities of the entity, and the total area of the sign's face facing a particular direction of travel does not exceed 200 square feet.
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  • Public service signs located on school bus stop shelters that:
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    • identify the donor, sponsor, or contributor of the shelter;
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    • contain public service messages occupying not less than 50% of the area of the sign;
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    • contain no other message;
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    • are authorized or approved by city, county, or state law, regulation, or ordinance, and at places approved by the city, county or state agency controlling the highway involved; and
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    • do not exceed 32 square feet in area; no more than one sign on each shelter shall face in any one direction.
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  • Signs not more than 32 square feet showing only the name of a ranch where livestock is raised or a farm where crops are grown and directions to the ranch or farm.
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  • Directional signs, which meet the criteria set forth under Directional Signs.
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  • Signs erected solely for and relating to a public election, but only if the signs:
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  • Signs erected outside an urban area if the signs are located more than 660 feet from the nearest edge of the right of way of a controlled highway and are either not visible or obviously not erected for the purpose of their message being seen from the main-traveled way of the controlled highway.
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  • Signs erected within an urban area, which are more than 660 feet from the right of way of a controlled highway.
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  • Signs within 660 feet of the right of way of a controlled highway, but which are not visible from the main-traveled way.
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  • Signs erected on or before October 22, 1965, which the Texas Transportation Commission, with the approval of the Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, determines to be landmark signs of such historic or artistic significance that preservation would be consistent with the Federal Highway Beautification Act of 1965.
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On-Premise Sign Criteria

A permit is not necessary if a sign meets the following requirements:

Purpose test

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  • On-premise business. TxDOT considers an on-premise to be a sign that refers to a commercial activity or business located on the same property if the sign:
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  • Off-premise business. A sign is considered off-premise outdoor advertising if it:
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    • brings rental income to the property owner;
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    • has over 50% of the area if its sign face dedicated to brand name or trade name advertising;
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    • has over 50% of the area of its sign face dedicated to a product or service that is only incidental to the principal activity;
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    • is an outdoor advertising device that advertises activities not conducted on the premises as well as activities conducted on the premises; or
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    • is a sale or lease sign that advertises any product or service not located upon and related to the business of selling or leasing the land on which the sign is located.

Premise test

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  • An on-premise sign must be located on the same property as the activity or property advertised.
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  • The property where the sign is located and the property where the activity is conducted must be under common ownership and on the same contiguous tract of land unless the sign is a part of a commercial development and multiple businesses share one sign structure.
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  • The following types of property will not be considered to be a part of the same contiguous tract:
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    • land separated from the activity by a road, highway or other activity contiguous to the land actually used by a commercial facility;
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    • land devoted to a separate purpose unrelated to the advertising activity;
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    • land held by easement or other lesser property interest than the premises where the advertising activity is located; and
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    • a sign site located on a narrow strip contiguous to the advertised activity, including any configurations of land that cannot be put to any reasonable use related to the activity other than for erection of a sign.
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