Are you planning to operate a commercial vehicle in the United States? Congratulations, you have stepped on a highly profitable endeavor. Do you know that the first thing you need is a DOT number? Do you know what a DOT number is?
Whether your trucking emphasizes hauling cargo or transporting people from point A to point B. You should know what a DOT number is. Not only this you need to gain all the know-how of this concept like what is a dot number used for. What is the USDOT number? What are its requirement and the cost etc.?
There is a common misconception in the trucking industry that only long-haul fleets need to obtain DOT numbers. If you also think the same, then it’s time to break this bubble.
No matter what type of commercial vehicle you operate in the United States, you require to obtain a DOT number. Some states have this requirement and some don’t, you need to know where you fall.
The legal requirements related to USDOT registrations and obtaining this number are quite confusing for novel carriers. To ease this misperception, this post has everything that you should know about it.
What is a DOT number?
DOT stands for Department of Transportation. It is a unique identifier 8-digit number that is assigned by FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) to commercial vehicles that operate interstate.
A dot number aids in monitoring and gathering particular business safety info during inspections, audits, compliance reviews, and crash investigations.
The vehicles which are required to obtain DOT numbers carry passengers, and cargo or operate between states.
What is a DOT number used for?
A DOT number is an 8-digit identification number that helps motor vehicle companies easily inspect the safety info of your business. FMCSA regularly inspects your commercial vehicles in the long run. You need to reapply it after every 24 months.
What is a USDOT number? Who needs it?
DOT and USDOT numbers are exactly the same and are often used interchangeably.
You will be required to obtain a USDOT number if you perform any of the following activities with your commercial vehicle.
- Operate your commercial vehicle across states.
- Use a vehicle or truck weighing over 10,000 pounds.
- Transport hazardous material.
- Haul passengers between 9 to 15 for money.
- Haul 16 or more passengers without any compensation.
What are USDOT number requirements?
To apply for a USDOT number, you first need to have all the vital information arranged and in order. The USDOT number application is very simple and upfront. Apart from your basic details such as name, address, age, etc., you are supposed to submit the following information.
- Business operation.
- Trucking category.
- Ownership of commercial vehicles.
- The number of vehicles used for operations.
- Types of trucks owned.
Once you lined up all this information. The next step will be filling out the below three online application forms.
- MCS-150: This is the most basic form that is applied to major types of carriers.
- MCS- 150B: This form combines Hazmat application (if applicable) and USDOT.
- MCS-150C: This form is the combination of the Intermodal Equipment Provider and USDOT number.
All the above application forms are used for businesses that deal in handling different types of materials. Once you figure out the most applicable form, you need to fill it out with the right info and send it to this address—1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington D.C. 20590.
After sending your application, the next thing which will strike your mind would be—how to check the status of my DOT number. Well, it is not too hard because there are a few methods of checking the status of your application.
There are majorly three ways to do it. First, you can check the USDOT number online on the website of SAFER. The second method is sending an email through an online web form and the third way is getting in touch with customer support at DOT phone number 800-832-5660.
These three methods can help you know where your application stands in the filing. Once you get your DOT number, make sure that it is readable from at least 50 ft.
What does DOT certification mean?
DOT certification is a permit that shows that drivers and businesses operating the vehicle are competent and skilled to drive commercial vehicles on roads and highways of the United States.
Vehicles including semi-trucks, public transportation, and delivery vans need DOT certification to carry out their operations smoothly. You must become DOT certified to obtain a license for your commercial vehicle.
To attain DOT certification, the driver undergoes a set of driving tests and physical examinations. The United States Department of Transportation manages the process of DOT certification. Every two years drivers need to reapply for this authorization.
How much does a DOT number cost?
The registration process for obtaining a DOT number is free. However, FMCSA would ask you to submit the details of your credit card to authenticate your identity. You won’t get charged for filling out the form or initiating the process of issuing a USDOT number. The website of FMCSA uses your credit card as your digital signature.
There is no alternative when it comes to submitting credit card details for online applicants. However, if you are not comfortable sharing your credit card details or don’t have one. You can fill out this application and submit its hardcopy to the physical office of FMCSA.
In addition, it is quite difficult to operate a business with a DOT number alone. You will be required to gain authority for different classes of business operations as well. Each registration will cost you $300 for the class of operation you would select.
For instance, some companies will register their operation under one category if they use one type of vehicle for their operation. Whereas others might need to register for multiple classifications.
The number of classifications you choose will determine the cost of the DOT number for your company. If you want to get your USDOT number within an hour, you can pay $499. Otherwise, it takes a couple of weeks to process your application. Depending on your state the business registration would cost you between $70—$500.
Which state in the United States requires a DOT number?
Apart from the Federal regulations, the below-mentioned states and territories of the United States need USDOT numbers for operating interstate.
What is an MC number? Who requires it?
MC number or Motor Carrier number is an identifier for companies that haul different types of cargo across various states. This number is assigned by the FMCSA. Although all interstate drivers need to have and display the USDOT number on their commercial vehicles, not all companies that move goods require an MC number.
Some companies that are carrying out moving operations require an MC number along with a USDOT number. Moving businesses that haul federally regulated supplies or operate as for-hire across states also requires an MC number. Items that have been changed from their natural state are called regulated commodities.
Companies that transport non-federal regulated cargo doesn’t need an MC number. Moving companies hauling goods across states need to display the USDOT number, MC number, or sometimes both.
Difference between DOT number and MC number
FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) assigns a unique identifier to all interstate movers is a USDOT number. Whereas an MC number is an additional digit that is again given by FMCSA in addition to the USDOT number. All moving companies that transport people or commodities that are regulated by the federal across states need to obtain an MC number.
Why do some commercial trucks have a DOT number and others do not?
You must have seen many commercial trucks not having a DOT number. This is because either the trucks are not for hire and are privately owned or weigh below the 10000 pounds limit. Trucks such aspickup trucks and trailers don’t haul people for earning money, so they don’t require a DOT number.
You might not require USDOT for discussed activities. However, you need to do the registration in your state office.
What happens to the driver if the company truck does not have a DOT number?
The DOT number is displayed on a commercial vehicle clearly on each side of the power unit. This number is also included on various docs that are vital for commercial vehicles. No matter how many fleets you own, all the vehicles will have the same USDOT number. This is because this number is used to track compliance, inspections, audits, and investigations with USDOT regulations.
Although all trucking companies have USDOT numbers if you miss displaying them on your commercial vehicle. A legal officer will either issue a fix-it ticket, give you a short window of time to rectify this mistake, or might put you out of service then and there.
You can also get heftily fined if you don’t display a DOT number when your state mandates it. Therefore, carrying out your money-making operations with the USDOT number is recommended.
Frequently Asked Questions
A DOT card is an essential piece of medical document that commercial vehicle drivers need to carry all the time. To operate on the road hassle-freely, you require to obtain this DOT health card.
USDOT stands for United States Department of Transportation. It is among the administrative department of the United States federal government.
Yes. Earlier it was not required for the not-for-hire truck but now the federal have changed the rules. Now, most states need a DOT number for their commercial vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
A DOT number consists of 8 digits. For example, a truck operating in California with USDOT would appear as USDOT1532080.
The DOT number helps in monitoring and gathering business information (majorly safety) during accidental investigations, audits, inspections, and compliance reviews.
A motor carrier identification number or MC number helps in identifying a carrier who hauls federally regulated commodities across various states.
Almost every state requires to obtain DOT number. This number is required for all commercial vehicles that operate interstate.
Not-for-hire and personally-owned vehicles don’t require to get DOT numbers
Final words on a DOT number
33 states out of 50 require truckers to get DOT numbers and transportation of hazardous material requires a safety permit.
Without a DOT number, you will not be able to operate smoothly across states. Please note, whenever you fill-up the application, give your details carefully. Providing incorrect information not only pushes your application backward but also draws hefty fines.
Just like your truck insurance, a dot number ensures the protection of your drivers and your business. DOT compliance might seem restrictive, but it keeps everyone safe on the road. Now you have gained enough knowledge about your query—what is a DOT number?
Companies that have an FMCSA DOT number get more business and achieve more success than those that don’t consider it vital. Don’t fall short in this part!