What is a USDOT Number?

Val Tkachuck
Val Tkachuck
February 5, 2024
What is a USDOT Number?

Adherence to regulations is absolutely paramount in the trucking and transportation industry. Whether you haul locally or drive across states, you must keep your permits straight on a regional, state, and federal level of legal requirements. 

One such regulatory requirement is the USDOT number. What is a USDOT number, why is it crucial to have, how to obtain it, and what benefits does it grant for truckers and trucking companies? Let’s find out.

What is a USDOT Number and why do I need it?

A USDOT number is a unique identifier assigned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to vehicles employed in interstate commerce. This 17-digit ID serves as a vital tracking tool, keeping your trucks visible to the authorities and helping to maintain compliance with safety regulations.

A USDOT number example

A USDOT license plate means that the truck belongs to the fleet that fully discloses all essential information about its carrier's operations. It signifies compliance with safety standards and regulations set by the FMCSA 

The need for a USDOT number is non-negotiable for those running interstate commerce logistics. Without it, truckers and trucking companies may face penalties, restrictions, or even an obligation to cease operations in certain states. For instance, at HaulK, we work only with USDOT-equipped truckers and hauling companies. 

How do I Get a USDOT Number?

Obtaining a USDOT number today is a fully digitized process that starts right in your browser. You can apply online using the FMCSA's Unified Registration System (URS). The application collects all required information about the carrier's identity, operations, and safety history.

How Do I Find My USDOT Number?

Once assigned, the USDOT number is added to the truck’s license plate. To locate it separately, you can use the FMCSA's Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System - search it using your personal or company name, DOT, or MC number. You can also go to your DMV to request the USDOT identifier physically.

Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System

What to look for when checking a USDOT number

Checking a USDOT number is more than just confirming its existence. The SAFER System stores and discloses many legal details, including safety records, compliance reviews, crash information, and even the carrier's insurance status.

This is why you should regularly verify your USDOT number and check up on all these aspects to make sure you are offering services as a reputable and fully compliant carrier. Here’s what requires regular checks especially:

  • Safety records: SAFER stores reviews of the carrier's safety performance, including inspections, violations, and crash reports.
  • Compliance reviews: You can check your compliance reviews and status to see whether you meet regulatory standards to the fullest.
  • Crash information: The carrier's crash history with evaluations of the severity and frequency of incidents is readily available.
  • Insurance status: Helps confirm that the carrier maintains the necessary insurance coverage.

How Much Does a DOT Number Cost?

Obtaining a USDOT number comes with associated costs. The fee varies based on factors like the type of carrier, the number of vehicles, and the nature of operations. The FMCSA provides a fee schedule, ensuring transparency in the application process.

What Are the Requirements for a USDOT Number?

To secure a USDOT number, carriers must meet specific requirements outlined by the FMCSA. These include factors such as the type of cargo transported, the weight of vehicles, and interstate commerce involvement. Ensuring compliance with these prerequisites is essential for a smooth application process.

USDOT Number received, what’s next?

Once a carrier receives its USDOT number, the journey doesn't end — it marks the beginning of a career that earnestly commits to safety and compliance. However, a federal DOT number is not everything you need to haul professionally. 

For a full-on commercial activity, you must also have a registered commercial driver's license (CDL), insurance coverage, and a bunch of other documents filled out and processed.

Beyond that, carriers must maintain accurate and up-to-date information in the FMCSA's systems, undergo required safety audits, and stick to all the regulations. This is extremely complicated to manage without a dedicated software solution. 

Use Haulk to streamline compliance with an innovative solution

You can conveniently manage ongoing regulatory compliance without sacrificing performance and costs with the right tools. HaulK is a platform that collects business-boosting tools that help track and expand capacities through insights, automate routine tasks, facilitate collaborative tasks, and streamline legal compliance. All with a single solution that can be easily integrated with your existing or starting-up car hauler’s workflow.

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