What is a USDOT Number?

USDOT is an acronym for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

If a company is transporting people or cargo from one state to another, that company will require a USDOT number and must register with the FMCSA. Companies that transport hazardous materials intrastate must also obtain a USDOT number and this number is essentially an identification number that can be used to monitor safety and compliance.


Who needs a USDOT Number?

The USDOT Number is the United States Department of Transportation Number. This number is required for anyone operating in interstate commerce and meet the following criteria:

You have vehicles that are over 10,000 lbs. (GVWR, GCWR, GVW or GCW) gross vehicle weight rating. That is the gross truck, trailer and load possible or potential weight combination. This does tend to confuse individuals when deciding if they’ll need a USDOT Number or be required to have a CDL. Additionally, if you transport either any hazardous material or transport between 9 and 15 passengers (including the driver) for compensation, whether direct or indirect, you’ll need a USDOT Number.

Basically, a USDOT number is needed for any trade or transportation of people or goods within the United States in the following instances:

  • If a company is transporting people/cargo outside of a particular state.
  • If a company is transporting people/cargo between two places within a particular state.
  • If a company is transporting people/cargo from a state to anywhere outside of the country.

When considering if you are required to register for a USDOT Number, simply keep in mind, if your vehicle registration weight combined with your trailer capacity and actual trailer weight goes over 10,001 lbs., you’ll absolutely be required to have a USDOT Number. 

For example, a 2020 Ford F-150 has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 6,100 – 7,050 lbs. Now if you combine that with the towing capacity of 5,000 – 8,000 lb. trailer, you’ll be well over 10,001 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and be required to have a USDOT Number.

While a USDOT number is a requirement under federal law, several states also require registrants of intrastate commercial motor vehicles to hold a valid USDOT number. Here’s a full list of the states which require these companies to produce a USDOT number on demand.


What Regulations are Associated with a USDOT Number?

In order to determine what regulations you are required to maintain it’s important to have a plan for what you really plan to do. Too many individuals simply buy a truck and get a USDOT Number and off they go, all because they used to drive truck for someone else, they feel they understand what all it entails. Individuals would benefit greatly if they’d simply see the importance of having a well thought out plan combined with asking the right questions. Experienced owner-operators tend to know that the more you start thinking ahead with strategizing, planning and organizing, the more you’re ensuring that your future endeavors will be successful. 


How Long Will it Take to get a USDOT Number?

Getting your USDOT # can be done very quickly but if you do decide to get your Motor Carrier Authority there’s a 21-day waiting period prior to your MC# being granted or authorized. In order for your MC# to be authorized, you’ll need to meet the minimum standard requirements, and that is a BOC-3 filing, which is a list of agents that have the authority to send, forward or receive legal documents on behalf of the driver, the other is the insurance requirements. You’ll need a minimum of $750,000 bodily injury and property damage. Once everything’s been attached, and after a minimum 21-day waiting period, your MC Authority will be granted. You’ll need to wait to get the Certificate of Authority in the mail in order to operate. However, prior to operations, you’ll need to be compliant. The compliance requirements depend on what the owner-operator wants to be able to accomplish if they want to drive hazardous materials across state lines, have a gooseneck trailer, carry passengers.


What else Might I Need to be Compliant?

Compliance requirements can differ greatly. Some will need IFTA/IRP (International Fuel Tax Agreement & International Registration Plan), if you cross state lines you’ll need a U.C.R. (Unified Carrier Registration) and it needs to be done yearly, along with Driver Qualification files and Drug & Alcohol testing and having a consortium

After you’re able to get the compliance end of things squared away, that’ll be a large part of the headache gone. However, most don’t have the time or patience to want to go and do all the digging and research themselves. That’s where F.C.C.R. comes in, we’re trained professionals in DOT & FMCSA compliance requirements, rules and regulations. We’re quickly able to determine what all you’ll require, regardless of state, operating class, cargo or carrier operation and will even fill out the application on your behalf. We always go above and beyond for our clients by assigning them with their own personal, dedicated agent that they’ll speak with every time they call and that knows their specific situation. 


Who Is Responsible For Obtaining And Displaying A USDOT Number?

Just so you know, federal law indicates the motor carrier and relevant drivers are responsible for complying with all the above regulations. These laws are enforced to ensure road and passenger safety but also to protect property and instill a clear set of principles to follow.

As for how to comply with these laws, a USDOT filing must be visible on both sides of the power unit in a vehicle. This number must be in a contrasting color and visible from a distance, and any non-compliance will mean both the driver and carrier are liable.

The truth is, the fact you are reading this post means that it’s likely that you will need a USDOT number and you might as well stay on the right side of caution. After all, there is no cost to register for this number, and we all know the importance of public and road safety.


Federal Carrier Compliance Registration

Our goal is to simplify the complex world of DOT compliance, make it easy and less time consuming for the owner-operator. Driving shouldn’t be something you fear, it should be something you enjoy and look forward to. F.C.C.R. makes driving simple, by simply letting us worry about the paperwork so that you can enjoy the drive again! 

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