Everything You Need To Know About Owning a US DOT Number

If you are just starting a trucking company or a transport business in the United States, one of the things you need to begin your journey is a USDOT number.

A DOT number basically serves as an identification number that allows the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to monitor and collect a company’s safety record which is obtained during audits, inspections, etc.

According to the FMCSA, DOT numbers are required by commercial vehicles carrying cargo or passengers in 37 states. Each state has its own DOT number. For instance, if you choose to do business in Ohio, you would need an Ohio DOT Number.

Why do You Need to Apply for a DOT Number?

To ensure safety and reduce the number of vehicle crashes and deaths, the FMCSA regulates and enforces the rules that Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) truck drivers are supposed to follow.

Here are three reasons why it is important and required to have a DOT number:

1. It Is a Law

If you are in the trucking business, you most likely need a DOT number which is required by the law if you check any of the following requirements :

  • If your vehicle is used to transport different types and various quantities of hazardous material which require a permit.
  • If you have a vehicle that has a total vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or higher.
  • If your vehicle was built or is used to transport more than 8 passengers, including the driver, for compensation.
  • If your vehicle was designed or is used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, indifferent to use for compensation.

2. It Validates Your Company

Following state rules and safety regulations by getting a DOT number displays to clients and other transport companies that your company is reliable and trustworthy.

That is why having a DOT number legitimizes your business and allows it to grow. It can even attract employees and drivers to find employment in your company.

3. It Increases the Safety of Your Company

A DOT number is used to monitor and manage a company’s safety record which includes inspections, examinations, audits, compliance reviews, and vehicle crash reports. Meaning that it takes care of the safety of your company.

This ensures the protection of you, your employees, and your drivers. It may seem complicated and complex but it is a system that is designed to keep you safe.

Who Is Required to Have a DOT Number?

Along with the aforementioned requirements for needing a DOT number, there are also interstate commerce requirements. 

If your vehicles travel from one point to another within a single state, they may still require a DOT number in some situations:

  • If your vehicle travels between two points in a state but passes through another state’s route or outside of the US.
  • If your vehicle travels between two places in a state as part of a trade, transport, or traffic originating or terminating outside of the state or the US.

How Much Does it Cost? And How Long Does it Take?

Although the registration process of a DOT number is completely free, the FMSCA registering site requires you to submit your credit card number for verification. If you do not own a credit card or do not want to share that information, you can also fill in an application and mail it to an FMCSA department.

In terms of time, the process of applying for a DOT number can be a bit complex and time-consuming. Though many online services can do the process for you all in the comfort of your own home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a DOT Sticker?

A DOT sticker is a sticker that displays the number that is issued to transporting companies by the FMCSA for commercial use. The sticker must be displayed on all commercial company vehicles.

Which States Require a DOT Number?

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Puerto Rica, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming all require commercial vehicles and companies to have a US DOT number

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.