Each year, the state of Texas issues over axle and/or over gross weight tolerance permits for commercial vehicles transporting divisible commodities. These permits allow loads to exceed the maximum limits for the vehicle or combination up to a preset tolerance without being fined.
The tolerance for exceeding the allowable axle weight is 10%, and the tolerance for exceeding the maximum gross weight is 5%. Vehicles or combinations that exceed the legal size limits for the state of Texas cannot qualify for a permit.
The application for an Over Axle and Gross Weight Tolerance Permit requires proof of a bond. Since vehicles transporting overweight or oversized loads present a risk to state infrastructure, having a bond is mandatory for commercial vehicles carrying non-agricultural loads. What is this bond, and what is it for? How much does it cost, and how can it be purchased?
What Is an Over Axle and Gross Weight Tolerance Permit Bond?
Before applying for a Texas overweight permit, the driver or company of a vehicle transporting non-agricultural divisible commodities must first purchase a bond. The bond is essentially a contractual agreement between:
- The principal. The person or organization applying for the Over Axle and Gross Weight Tolerance Permit from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- The obligee(s). The obligee refers to those who can make a claim against the bond, in this case, the Texas Department of Transportation and/or the respective counties in the state of Texas.
- The surety. The bond company or insurance provider who issues the bond.
This bond is meant to cover the road damage caused by heavily loaded vehicles transporting goods. If a vehicle causes damage to the roads or highways, the Texas Department of Transportation or county can file a claim for compensation.
How to Qualify
In order to qualify for a surety bond, the commercial motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, or combination of those vehicles; or a truck-tractor; or combination of a truck-tractor and one or more other vehicles must meet the following requirements:
- It must have an axle weight that is not heavier than the weight equal to the maximum allowable axle weight for the vehicle or combination, plus a tolerance allowance of 10% of that allowable weight.
- It must have a gross weight that is not heavier than the weight equal to the maximum allowable gross weight for the vehicle or combination, plus a tolerance allowance of 5%.
Vehicles transporting agricultural products do not need a bond. They just need to apply for the Over Axle and Over Gross Weight Tolerance Permit from the Texas DMV.
What Is Covered
The bond can satisfy claims made against damage to county roads and highways maintained by the state. But the applicant must specify which counties they intend to transport goods through, and only the counties specified are covered.
What Is Not Covered
Transportation on interstate highways is excluded from coverage. Also, if a bridge has a posted load maximum that is less than the maximum axle or gross weight load of the vehicle, the passage is prohibited unless the bridge is the only access route available to or from the destination of the goods.
How Much Does It Cost?
While details will vary between bond providers, typically, the bond is for $15,000 and starts at about $100-150 to purchase. Texas Over Axle or Overweight Permit holders can save money on the bond by purchasing multiple years’ worth of coverage. Generally, surety agencies and applicable insurance providers in Texas can issue a bond instantly.
How to Purchase an Over Axle and Gross Weight Tolerance Permit and Bond
Generally, surety agencies and applicable insurance providers in Texas can issue a bond instantly. You can pay online in most cases. You must purchase the bond before applying so that it can be submitted with the application since you must submit an original signed and sealed bond with the application package. In general, the steps to apply for the bond include:
- Locate a surety bond provider authorized to issue a bond in Texas. Apply online or in person with an agent.
- Provide details for prequalification. Credit score, financial status, and job performance history will likely be assessed.
- Make payment and receive the bond.
Once the bond is in hand, the process for applying for the permit differs slightly depending on whether you are a first-time applicant or not and whether your loads are agricultural or non-agricultural.
Applying for the Permit — First-Time Applicants
First-time applicants will need to fill out pages 2-4 of the permit application and submit it by mail along with the original signed and sealed bond and a check or money order for payment. Electronic copies of the bond will not be accepted.
The fee for the permit depends on how many counties are selected for transportation by the applicant. It ranges from $175 for one to five counties and up to $1,000 for upwards of 101 counties. Each vehicle covered by the permit must be listed on the application, including details such as year, make, VIN, and plate number.
During the application process, the applicant will need to provide a USDOT number. If a company — not an individual vehicle owner — is applying for the permit, the USDOT number must have been issued in the company name, or it will not be accepted.
Applying for a Renewal or Adding Vehicles
The bond must be kept current, but once the original is sent in with the first application, there is no need to resend it with renewals. Renewals can be sent by mail or submitted online via the Texas Permitting & Routing Optimization System (TxPROS).
Alternative to Purchasing a Bond
An alternative way to provide proof of coverage without purchasing a bond is to request an Irrevocable Standby Letter of Credit from your financial institution. In effect, it makes the financial institution responsible for damage claims from the county or the Texas Department of Transportation, essentially the same as purchasing a bond.
Getting Started With Your Over Axle and Gross Weight Tolerance Permit Bond
TMD Surety Bonds is one of the leading bond providers in Texas, with professional agents standing by to help you get started on your application. Submit a request and pay online to get your bond processed immediately.