Any vehicle that weighs over a specific amount and operates in-between state lines will require that you get them a DOT number. When a driver has a DOT certification, it shows that they have earned their right to drive on the road, and they have the competence and the driving skills to do this professionally. In becoming DOT certified, it maintains a certain level of integrity on the highway where you will have to pass through the safety driving tests and a physical exam to prove that you have everything needed. At the end of every two years, you will have to re-apply for this.
Getting a DOT Number
How does one go about getting a DOT number? As a newer applicant, you will first have to register through the Unified Registration System online. The fact that you can do this online adds to the level of convenience. No longer do they accept the paper for the starting point of the application, but you can still register online. Up until they have fully implemented the URS, you won’t receive a charge for the number. To apply to become an operating authority, it will also have a cost of $300.
Becoming an Authority
When you become an authority, it means that you run your own business. You will have some important decisions that you have to make in these situations. In addition, you will also need to consider a few things that include:
- Startup expenses
- Trucking insurance
- Additional permits
- Know the cost-per-mile
What Do You Need to Get a Number?
Luckily, the process of getting a number is straightforward and simple. Nevertheless, you will still need to understand the legal classifications as a business. Some of the information that you will need to have available to register include:
- Cargo classification
- Company operation
- Operation classification
You might need additional information to get your number. For example, you will need to explain how many trucks you plan to have in your fleet, the status of ownership, the types of vehicles and whether you will run them on an interstate basis or intrastate basis. Let’s say that you have plans to transport hazardous materials. If you have these plans, you will need an additional hazmat classification.
What are the Associated Costs
When it comes to getting a number, you first must understand some of the associated costs. The process of registering doesn’t cost anything. The federal employee will ask for your credit card number as a way of confirming your identity. Your credit card won’t get charged for the issuing of the number, however. Basically, the credit card serves as your digital signature. Let’s say that you don’t feel comfortable putting your private information online. You can also visit one of the FMCSA’s office, get the paper document and send it to their offices.
In general, it will cost you $300 for the filing fee, but you could also choose to get this within the hour for $499. Otherwise, it will take anywhere from four to six weeks for processing. Next, you will have to look at business registration, which costs anywhere from $70 up to $500, depending on the state. Utah, for example, only costs $70.
What Happens if I Don’t Have a Credit Card?
You will need to have a credit card because this puts your digital signature on the document. If you don’t have a credit card, you will need to run out and get one if you plan to apply online. However, you don’t need to have this information if you plan to submit the details through paperwork, rather than online.
What happens if I’m Based out of Mexico?
Many truckers in the US have their origins in Mexico, and Mexican operating carriers will first need to obtain a specific operating license if they would like to work in the United States. You can’t do online registration if you’re based out of Mexico. Instead, you will need an OP1-(MX) form and an MCS-150 form to file. You file the information with the FMCSA.
Do You Always Need a USDOT Number?
That answer largely depends on the type of cargo that you plan to transport and if you plan to stay within the state. In some cases, you may only need a state identification number, but many states have come to require that you have a USDOT number. Before you begin, you may find it useful to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles to learn what all you will need.
You should acquaint yourself with the different policies and fees within your state. Each state will be a little different from the last, which makes it difficult to highlight them all under a single category. 33 out of the 50 states require that intrastate truckers have a USDOT number. Transporters of hazardous materials within the state may also have to have a safety permit even as an intrastate transporter. While you can operate intrastate without a USDOT number, it can cut you off at the knees when it comes to going outside of the state. You will not be allowed.