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January 7, 2022

Unlocking USDOT Number: 12 Common Questions and Doubts Answered

If you are new to this industry, you probably don’t know how the players involved in the transport sector function. Let’s start with a lesson on the USDOT number and why getting it is essential.

1. What Does A USDOT Number Mean?

The department of transportation of the US requires you to have a USDOT number. It is an interstate operating authority that you must have if you want to carry on with your interstate commerce and transport operations. Any moving and logistics company involved in intrastate and/or interstate moves receives a unique identifier assigned to them. The federal motor carrier safety administration and the government will use this number to keep a track of your safety records including compliance, registration status, ratings, investigations, inspections, and much more. If you want to access this information, it is available on the FMCSA website.

2. What Is Required To Get A USDOT Number?

First, you will have to create a business entity and start operating your commercial transportation company. It can be an LLC or a corporation. You can also open an enterprise under sole proprietorship or DBA and will also have to go through various licensing procedures and register your business as well. You must make sure that all the forms are complete so that you can apply for a USDOT number without any hassle. There is also a lot of critical information that you have to submit to apply for a USDOT number. You must have the following data and information available in order to apply for and get a USDOT number

Every company has employer identification. In addition to that, you must also have your tax identification number. If you are acting as an individual despite having created a company, you will need to provide your social security number. Additionally, you must submit the names and titles of the officers in your company. You will complete the FMCSA application process through the unified registration system. You will then have to fill out the necessary form to apply for a USDOT number. This information is going to include the following:

  • Your name or company name
  • The primary address of your business and all its physical offices
  • The phone number of the company
  • Registered email address and fax number if any
  • The social security number associated with the company or the IRS tax ID of the organization

By declaring your operation classification, you provide the government with a better understanding of how you run your business and in what capacity. Given that you might be conducting your business for various purposes, this information is critical. For instance,

  • Private passenger/non-business passengers
  • US mail
  • Migrant
  • State government (private passenger /business passengers)
  • Local governments
  • Indian nation
  • Private property
  • Exempt from hire
  • Authorize for hire
  • Cargo Classification

You must check this option as well. It indicates the type of cargo you move in your commercial vehicle. You will have to check all the boxes that apply to your business.

Transporting Hazardous Materials – Making The Necessary Declaration

If you are moving or are in the business of moving hazardous materials, you will have to declare it in the form. You must also indicate whether you are moving this material as a shipper, carrier, bulk shipper, or non-bulk shipper.

Please remember that the application for your USDOT number is free and often bundled with an MC number application. If someone requests a fee for this application, it means that you have applied for both your USDOT number and MC number together.

Ensure that you always file the application for your MC number correctly because the fee you pay for it is non-refundable. The average time that it takes to correct any mistakes made in your form is around 1 to 2 months. If you are not careful, you will have to request a pin and follow all the mandatory regulations to correct this error.

3. Who Needs To Get A USDOT Number?

Generally, if you are involved in interstate commerce, meaning operating across state lines, you would require a USDOT number. If you own a transport company or a fleet of vehicles that fulfills the following criteria, you will need a USDOT number as soon as possible and if you want to remain operational:

  • Your vehicle should be at least 10,000 LBS or more than this
  • You should be involved in the transport of at least 9 to 15 passengers including the driver
  • This transportation must be done in exchange for compensation whether direct or indirect
  • Transporting 16 or more passengers also necessitates having a USDOT number if you want to remain operational
  • If you haul hazardous materials, you will require a USDOT number 

4. How Do I Get A USDOT Number?

To get a USDOT number, you will have to determine whether you need it in the first place or not. Most carriers do but a few of them will be exempt from it. Answer the following list of questions to understand whether you need a USDOT number or not:

Are You Engaged In Interstate Travel?

  • Do you operate vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds?
  • Are those vehicles transport 9 to 15 passengers for compensation including the driver?
  • Do you transport 16 or more passengers for compensation including the driver?
  • Are you involved in the transportation of hazardous materials?

If you have answered yes to any of the questions above, you need to apply for a USDOT number right away. If none of these apply to your business, you may only have to register with your state office or local jurisdiction. You do not have to file for a USDOT application.

To apply for a USDOT number, you must have the necessary information. The entire application process is very simple and straightforward. You are going to need a few details apart from your name and address of your company and the like. This includes:

  • Company operation
  • Operation classification
  • Cargo classification
  • Hazmat classification if applicable to your business
  • Number of vehicles in your fleet
  • Types of vehicles that you own
  • Ownership of your vehicles including their term lease, trip please, and the like
  • Driver statuses such as intrastate and interstate
  • Total drivers
  • Total commercial drivers

After having this information handy, you will have to fill out the proper USDOT application form. This can be a little tricky if you do not have enough knowledge about the procedure. There are three USDOT application forms and one of them may apply to your business. These are as follows:

MCS-150

This is a very basic form and applies to almost all carriers

MCS-150 B

Careers that require a combination of a USDOT number and a hazmat safety permit use this form.

MCS-150 C

Once you require a USDOT number and also need to fill out an intermodal equipment provider application, this form must be completed by you.

You must fill out the necessary information in the appropriate form and mail it to the FMCSA.

5. Can I Have Two USDOT Numbers?

Companies cannot have two USDOT numbers as these are unique identification numbers that the government assigns to them. The numbers are non-transferable and serve as operating authorities that help track a carrier’s safety history. The FMCSA assigns carriers with a single USDOT number for all trucks in their fleet. If carriers wish to register two different vehicles separately, the FMCSA will assign them with two USDOT numbers.

6. Do I Need A Different DOT Number For Each Truck?

No, You do not need a different DOT number for each one of your vehicles. The authorities will assign your enterprise a single USDOT number for its operations. You will have to contact your local state department of transportation office or the FMCSA to apply for a USDOT number. There will be additional requirements such as medical exams of your drivers that you will have to fulfill apart from the general information of your company. The authorities assign a USDOT number solely to registered commercial vehicles. This means that if you have more than one commercial vehicle, you can apply for more than one USDOT number by going through a registration process for each commercial vehicle separately.

7. Can I Add A Truck To My DOT Number?

You can add a track to your DOT number because the vehicle will be under your company’s name. Your enterprise receives a USDOT number, making it unnecessary to obtain a separate DOT number for each vehicle. However, if you choose to register the commercial vehicle separately, you will have to go through the entire registration process again. This means that you may have another USDOT number for your new truck if you choose to do so.

8. Does A Private Carrier Need A DOT Number?

If your private motor carrier company actively transports its own cargo, you will need a USDOT number. For your business uses, sells, or buys cargo hauled across interstate lines, you will also need a USDOT number. As a private motor carrier, you can transport your goods within the state or across state lines. For this, you will need a USDOT number but you don’t need an operating authority which is the MC number.

9. Who Is Exempt From DOT Number?

There are, however, certain carriers that are exempt from the DOT number, provided that they meet certain conditions:

  • If their vehicle is not used to transport any types of materials requiring any safety permit in intrastate commerce
  • When the gross weight of the vehicle is less than 10,000 pounds, they are not required to obtain a USDOT number
  • If the vehicle is designed to transport not more than 8 passengers including the river, it does not have to obtain a USDOT number

10.  Can I Use My Old Number?

USDOT numbers are non-transferable and they are your unique identifiers. A company receives only one USDOT number assigned to it during its lifetime. This is going to stay with your enterprise forever and the government is going to use this record to keep a track of your information, safety, and various compliances. Each person needs to register their commercial vehicle separately. For any corporation, business organization, partnership firm, and similar enterprise, the USDOT number is going to remain the same even if there is a change in their information including the company name, address, or other information. Even if your company is going through an organizational restructuring procedure, this unique identifier is going to remain the same.

You will have to file an MCS 150 motor carrier identification report within 30 days of any change that you may have made to keep your records updated with the government.

11.  What Vehicles Require A DOT Number?

As long as the vehicles are involved in either intrastate or interstate commerce, obtaining a USDOT number is mandatory, subject to the fulfillment of the following criteria:

  • If your vehicle is used to transport various types of hazardous materials and you require a safety permit to facilitate the same
  • When your vehicle has a total weight of 10,000 pounds or more
  • Your motor vehicle has been designed to transport at least 8 passengers and more including the driver, for a compensation
  • If motor vehicle has been designed to transport more than 15 passengers including the driver, in exchange for compensation
  • You are involved in interstate commerce where your vehicle travels within a state and a place outside of the state, whether it is inside the United States or outside its boundary
  • If the vehicle travels between two places in a given state, through another state, or any other place that is located outside of the United States

12.  Can Two Companies Use The Same DOT Number?

USDOT numbers are non-transferable and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) assigns each number to a single company. Two or more companies cannot share a single USDOT number as it serves as a unique identifier.

Therefore, one can conclude that the transportation industry must adhere to specific rules and compliance measures to maintain its operations. In light of this, the aforementioned insights provide valuable information regarding the functioning of this industry.

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