If you plan to run a trucking company or operate a commercial vehicle in the US, you should determine whether or not you need a DOT number.
DOT number, short for Department of Transportation number, is a number assigned to commercial vehicles by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA).
The DOT number helps identify commercial vehicles and their owners. It is also used to track safety practices and companies’ (or individual entity’s) compliance with rules & regulations, and more.
Which vehicles require a DOT number?
Most motor carriers, including individual applicants, require a DOT number. Vehicles that are required to complete DOT registration include:
- Motor carriers engaged in interstate travel
- Carriers weighing over 10,000 lbs (4,536 kg)
- Vehicles that transport 9 to 15 passengers for compensation
- Vehicles that transport 16 or more passengers, not for compensation. The numbers, in both cases, include the driver.
- Carriers that transport hazardous material
If none of this applies to your vehicle or business, you may only need to register with the local office instead of applying for a DOT number.
However, if your carrier falls in any of the above categories, you will need a DOT number in order to operate in the US. Since many of you may not know how to get a DOT number, here is the nitty-gritty of the process and the basic requirements of the application.
Requirements for getting a DOT number:
Before you get started with the application, you need to do your research about the documents you will need during the process.
Although the process is simple, you still need to gather all the required information to save time. This will make sure that you do not wait and search for the documents when completing the DOT application. Apart from your/company’s name and address, you will need:
- Operation classification. E.g. For hire, private passenger, etc.
- Cargo classification. E.g. General freight, farm supplies, etc.
- Number, ownership, and type of vehicles
- Company operation
- Driver status
- Social security number or IRS tax ID
- Hazardous material (HazMat) material classification, if applicable.
Once you collect the above information, you need to proceed and start filling the application.
How long does it take to fill the DOT application?
There are several DOT application forms, each requiring a different amount of time to complete. The three main forms for various business types include:
- MCS-150: The MCS-150 form applies to most motor carriers and trucking companies. You can fill the form online or print and mail it to the FMCSA. As a newer applicant, you will have to access the Unified Registration System (URS) to complete the application form.
According to the FMCSA, it takes approximately 20 minutes to complete the MCS-150 form online. The form is submitted instantly, but it can take up to 25 days to process if you’re a first-timer. The same process can take 45 to 60 days via email, postal mail, or fax.
- MCS-150B: You will need to fill this form if you are involved in hauling hazardous material. The filling options and required time are the same as the MCS-150 form.
- MCS-150C: This form is only for IEP registration and updates. IEP, or Intermodal Equipment Provider, refers to the equipment used for hauling cargo that involves multiple modes of transportation. For instance, you will need to fill MCS-150C form for cargo that comes off a ship, loaded on a truck, and delivered to a rail yard.
After the FMCSA receives your form, it generally takes five to seven days for your update to process. This does not include the time required for mail service, incomplete or incorrect forms, etc.
How long does it take to get a DOT number?
According to the Department of Transportation, it takes nearly 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete the application form. This include the time for inserting information, reading the instructions, and reviewing the application. Once you complete and submit the application form, it usually gets processed instantly.
DOT numbers are issued almost instantly if you register online via the Unified Registration System. However, you may have to wait for about 4 to 6 weeks for a by-mail application to process. Occasionally, the Department of Transportation or FMCSA may select some applications for additional vetting. In this case, the process may take much longer because the authorities will have to verify the information provided with the application.
If your form was unsigned, incorrect, unreadable, or rejected for some other reason, you will have the start the DOT application process anew.
The DOT application process is simple but time-consuming. The process can also become confusing since each state may have different requirements and policies. For first-timers, you can expect the application to take around 4 to 6 weeks to process.
If you are transporting HazMat, there may be additional requirements, such as a safety permit along with a DOT number. This may further prolong the process of getting your DOT number.
About Michelle Joe: Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs. You can find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook