Over-Dimensional Shipping

Most of your large shipping needs can be accommodated by a combination of truck and railroad flatbeds.  There are special considerations, however, when your shipment is so large that it won’t fit on the flatbed itself.  If you need to move to such a shipment, then you have no choice but to consult with a service that offers over-dimensional shipping.  The term is commonly referred to as a “heavy haul” or a “wide load.”


So how do you know if your shipment isn’t just “big” but “really big?” Luckily, there is a well-defined legal classification for an over-dimensionally shipment.  You’ve got a heavy haul on your hands if your load is:

- greater than 8’6” in width,

- and/or longer than the length of the flatbed.

If you intend to use a combination of roads and rails, the train movement might also be classified as over-dimensional.  The parameters are similar, but more flexible.  A train can accommodate your shipment as long as the load is not:

- greater than 10’6” in width,

- and/or longer than the length of the flatbed.

Moving over-dimensional shipments overseas also has many special considerations.  Since a majority of overseas shipment is accomplished by containers, the movement of anything that will not fit in a container will have to be specifically arranged through a capable provider.  Coordinate with your logistics company for further details.


Expect your over-sized shipment to be more costly, more time consuming, and subject to limited availability.  Shipping this kind of freight is often a complicated and sometimes dangerous affair.  Crews with specific training and licenses along with equipment that is legally suitable for the voyage will be required. Indirect routes that offer fewer hazards to the shipment or other traffic will be used whenever they are available. Also be aware that as a safety precaution, oversized shipments do not usually move at night. Nor are they permitted to travel through some areas during hours of high traffic congestion.


Start your planning for over-dimensional shipments early to compensate for complications that will lead to delays.  Shipments with a short window for delivery run a high risk for missing their deadlines.  If you don’t contact your logistics handler ahead of time, you may not be able to reserve a shipment within your desired time frame. When asking for your quote, always be sure to communicate the precise details of your load to the shipper; be as specific as possible.  Small differences might determine the availability of other options that may be quicker or cheaper.  In some cases, the shipper may be able to recommend an alternative that is can stretch the definition of a legally standard sized load, such as double drop trailer or a multi-axle trailer. Finalize your requirements as soon as possible, and let the shipper know of any alterations if you can’t avoid them.  Keep in mind that last minute changes can cause delays and fees.