When it comes to trucking, there’s a lot of “paperwork” (rather, forms and such) to take care of. One big thing that you need to take care of is your USDOT Number. It might seem a little overwhelming to deal with your USDOT Number, so we’re going to break things down for you.
The main questions we’ll cover are:
- What’s a DOT Number?
- Who needs a USDOT Number?
- How do I get a DOT Number?
What is a DOT Number?
First things first – what exactly is a DOT Number? Why is it so important, and why are so many truckers required to have one? Sometimes it’s easier to put up with applications, regulations, and (in general) rigmarole when you know the reasoning behind it – the why.
So – what’s a DOT Number and why, oh why, does it matter so very much?
Okay, here’s the deal. The FMCSA is charged with making the roads safer for all drivers, right? They regulate commercial vehicles and keep track of important safety data and inspections. They can intervene if a motor carrier is found to have not met safety standards.
A DOT Number is a unique identifier that the FMCSA uses to track motor carriers. It’s the way that the motor carrier’s safety information is tracked. This information comes from a variety of sources, including audits, compliance reviews, investigations of accidents, and inspections. The DOT Number is an important piece of registering a truck business. Certain truck companies are required to have USDOT Numbers, and if you are one of them it’s important that you go through the necessary process.
And that leads us quite neatly to our next question…
Who needs a USDOT Number?
Now, as we mentioned, certain trucking businesses are required to have DOT Numbers. Generally speaking, companies that do interstate commerce or transport people need to have a DOT Number and be registered with FMCSA. Likewise with businesses that transport hazardous materials.
Here are the FMCSA’s qualifications for who needs a USDOT Number:
- Businesses that transport hazardous materials that require a safety permit in intrastate commerce
- Vehicles that have a GVWR, GCWR, GVW, or GCW of 10,001 lbs or more
- Vehicles designed to transport more than 8 passengers (driver included) for compensation/payment
- Vehicles designed to transport more than 15 passengers (driver included), not for compensation
Note that this applies to business engaging in interstate commerce, which means that they travel, trade, etc. in the US…
- From a point in a state to a point outside of that state (or outside the US)
- From a point in one state to another point within that state through another state (or location outside the US)
- From one point in a state to another point in that state as part of commerce that begins or ends outside that state or the United States
If that sounds like your business, you are FMCSA-required to get a USDOT Number. You’re also required to follow the FMCSA’s regulations.
It’s also important to note that many states require intrastate commercial motor vehicles to get USDOT Numbers. If your state requires you have to have a DOT Number, you need to make sure to adhere to those regulations.
(Keep in mind that the FMCSA has an easy-to-use, step-by-step tool that will tell you if you need a USDOT Number.)
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
CMV operators and drivers need to adhere to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that apply to them. This is for the sake of saving lives and protecting the cargo they’re hauling. To do that, you can use the FMCSA’s “Motor Carrier Safety Planner”. If you have an FMCSA portal account, you can create a “My Safety Planner” version of the guide – this allows you to save certain chapters or forms, highlight things, and take notes.
How do I get a USDOT Number?
If you’re a new trucking business and therefore a new applicant, you need to register online with the URS (Unified Registration System). Paper forms are not accepted for initial applications, only for updates to an existing registration. Note that if you also want to apply for operating authority (MC/FF) there will be a cost of $300 per authority.
So, that’s what a DOT Number is, who needs one, and how to apply for one. It’s important to make sure you’re all set and registered properly. You need to adhere to relevant state and federal regulations. But you also need to make sure you have the right insurance for your business. Our truck insurance experts would be happy to help you out with that. You can get started with your quotes by giving us a call, messaging us on LiveChat, or filling out our online form.