Question of the Day: Do I Need a USDOT Number?


Q: What is a USDOT Number, and Does My Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Need a USDOT Number?

A: A USDOT number is a unique identification number provided by the Department of Transportation (DOT) for employers to identify and monitor their commercial fleet vehicles and safety management controls. Vehicles that must register for a USDOT number are those that are used for interstate commerce and fall into one of the following categories: 

  • A gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight, or gross combination weight of 10,001 lbs or more;
  • Transports more than eight passengers for compensation;
  • Transports 15 or more passengers without compensation;
  • Are used to transport certain types of quantities of hazardous materials (only those that require an intrastate safety permit)

Visit the US Department of Transportation website to see if your CMV requires a USDOT number.

What to Expect During Registration:

For employers to obtain a USDOT number, they must register with the Unified Registration System (URS). The URS gives employers access to forms that motor carriers, brokers, and freight forwarders can use to register and update information with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). The URS portal is mandatory for all users that are regulated by FMCSA, including but not limited to:

  • Intermodal equipment providers
  • Hazardous materials safety permit applicants/holder
  • Cargo tank facilities

New entrants aiming to conduct interstate operations within the US are required to pass a safety audit conducted by the DOT. You can find all the documentation needed to pass this safety audit in this new entrant safety audit checklist. All new registrants will be audited after the first year.

To register for a USDOT number on the URS, go to the FMCSA website and click the “To get started, click here” button. During the registration process, applicants will need to provide the FMCSA with detailed information relating to financial responsibility, operation classification, compliance certifications, and more. 

After submitting the required information through the URS, the registration will be processed, and registrants will receive their USDOT number immediately unless there is an issue. The applicant should contact the FMCSA via its website if registration is rejected.

What Documents are Required to be Prepared and Maintained?

In order to successfully register for a USDOT number, employers must prepare and maintain a variety of documents in a secured location with controlled access, as required by the DOT Federal Motor Carrier Regulations. These types of documents may include records of driver alcohol and substance tests, driver evaluations, and collection logbooks.
For a DOT Documentation, Requirements, and Retention guide, click here.

What is Involved in Vehicle Inspections?

There are six different types of inspections, from Level I, the North American Standard Inspection, to Level VI, Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments. Check out this Guide to DOT Vehicle Inspection Levels to learn more about the six vehicle inspection levels and their differences.

What is a Hazardous Material (HM)?

Current DOT regulations define hazardous material as a substance or material capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce. Employers transporting HMs must apply for and obtain the HM safety permit, file annual registrations, display placarding, and observe training sessions.

Check out these resources for more about which materials require a safety permit and how to transport these materials.
Check out this resource to learn which CMVs require a USDOT number.

Are you building a team of CMV drivers? Click here for a checklist featuring all the forms employers need to complete driver qualification files.

Still have questions on if your CMVs need a USDOT number? Contact our team today.



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