Some drivers call it a permit book, a paperwork binder or a document folder, but everyone should have one in their truck. Missing paperwork can make an inspection or an audit turn south. What if you get pulled over? Federal Carrier put a list together of items and documentation you should have in their files and in their truck at a basic level.  Lets dive in.


What Paperwork or Documentation Should be Carried in the Cab of the Truck?

There are a number of documents that you should consider keeping in the cab of your truck, and if you’re an owner-operator, you know it’s critical to your business to stay in compliance with government regulations and have that documentation on hand in case of an audit or inspection.

  • Certificate of insurance
  • Motor Carrier Authority
  • Truck and trailer registration (cab cards)
  • IFTA license for the current year
  • At least 8 days’ worth of paper logs in case there is an ELD malfunction
  • Entry level driver (ELD) instruction sheet
  • Annual safety inspection report
  • CDL of driver
  • Driver Qualification File
  • Medical certificate. States or inspectors could require a copy of the long form physical
  • If it applies, a copy of your lease agreement
  • IF it applies, an Oregon permit
  • NY HUT permit (certificate of registration), if applicable
  • Hazmat permit(s), if applicable
  • Current load paperwork (bill of lading)


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What Decals Should be on the Side of the Truck?

The decal requirements for CMVs are found in §390.21. The decals need to be displayed on both sides of the vehicle. This mostly pertains to the Motor Carrier number (MC#) and the USDOT  number, as well as the legal name or single trade name of the business operating the vehicle. These should be displayed with sharp letters that have a sharp contrast to the background they are displayed on, and be legible from 50 feet or more during daylight.

Decals that could be included on a truck are:

  • Company name (must match the legal name or single trade name as listed on your most recent MCS-150)
  • USDOT number
  • IFTA stickers for the current year
  • NY Heavy Vehicle Tax (HUT) stickers, if applicable
  • MC number
  • Gross weight rating of the CMV
  • KYU number, if applicable


If your vehicle is leased and the lessor holds the KYU account, the KYU number is required to be displayed on the side of the truck.


How Do USDOT Numbers Need to be Displayed?

As mentioned above, USDOT number decals or stickers should be placed anywhere on each side of the CMV that is clearly visible from at least 50 feet away during daylight hours. The number lettering should be a minimum of 2 inches and the color of the decal should greatly contrast with the color of the vehicle and be legible. If your truck is white, the lettering should be black, or a dark color.

Your regulation numbers can be placed on the CMV’s doors, on the sides of the cabin or anywhere police officers or scale operators have easy visual access. It is very important to clearly display your numbers to make the the inspection process easier and keep you on the road.

dot and mc on truck

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What Safety or Emergency Equipment Needs to be Carried?

CMVs require certain safety equipment for vehicle protection and for the safety of those in the vehicle. The USDOT and the FMCSA, regulate the safety of commercial motor vehicles used on highways for transporting passengers or property. FMCSA regulation 49 CFR Part 393.95 requires safety equipment on all of the following trucks, truck tractors, and buses:

  • Vehicles with GVWR, GCWR, or gross vehicle weight over 10,000 lb
  • Buses for compensation with over 8 persons and non-compensation buses with over 15
  • Vehicles transporting hazardous material requiring placards


Below is a list of equipment that should be carried:

  • Fire extinguisher
    • 1 fire extinguisher having an Underwriters’ Laboratories rating of 5 B:C or more
    • Or 2 fire extinguishers having an Underwriters’ Laboratories rating of 4 B:C or more
  • Spare fuses (at least one of each type/size of fuse needed for each applicable part and accessory)
  • 3 bidirectional emergency reflective triangles
  • At least 6 fuses or 3 liquid-burning flares
  • Reflective vest for driver
  • Flashlight. You should also keep spare batteries if your flashlight needs batteries to work
  • First aid kit
  • Some shippers and receivers will not allow drivers on the premises without closed-toed or steel-toed shoes or boots


The most important thing to remember is any compliance documentation. The last thing you want is your business being shut down because you didn’t have it. Remember to always stay up-to-date on the latest regulation changes and trend updates in the transportation industry, and make sure you’re always keeping all necessary files with you at all times.

Please note this document reflects federal requirements and may not include state-specific rules or regulations. This information is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal or other professional advice. 

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