When you have a business that involves driving, there are a lot of hoops to jump through. The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) is responsible for overseeing commercial motor vehicles and safety. You might be wondering if you need to have a USDOT Number if you do towing. We’ll explain who needs a USDOT Number and how you can get one.
What is a USDOT Number?
First of all, let’s take a minute to define exactly what a USDOT Number is. A USDOT Number is an identifier that allows for the collection and monitoring a company’s safety information from safety audits, reviews of compliance, investigations that follow accidents, and investigations. Basically, it’s a way that the DOT can keep track of a company’s safety record. It’s how businesses register with the FMCSA if they meet the requirements for needing a DOT Number.
Who needs a DOT Number?
Well, all of this begs the question of who needs a DOT Number.
Technically speaking, if your vehicle transports hazardous materials requiring a safety permit, you need a USDOT Number. (That means the regulations found in 49 CFR 385.403). So, that’s one way to know if a motor carrier needs a USDOT Number – if they require a hazardous materials safety permit and do intrastate commerce.
You also need a USDOT Number if your vehicle…
- Has a GVWR, GCWR, GVW, or GCW that is over 10,000 lbs (whichever value is greatest).
- Is intended to transport more than 8 people (driver included) for compensation.
- Is intended to transport more than 15 passengers (driver included) not for compensation.
AND you use the vehicle for interstate commerce, which is defined as conducting commerce or transportation from…
- One location in a state to a location outside the state (including a location outside the United States).
- One location in a state to another location in that state through another state.
- One location to another as part of transportation that starts or ends outside the United States.
So, that’s what the FMCSA says about USDOT Numbers, but it’s really important to look at what your state’s regulations are. Many, many states require commercial motor carriers to get a USDOT Number even if they only work intrastate. (You’d have to go to your state’s agency for intrastate motor carrier registration.)
How to get a USDOT Number.
If you are a new applicant, you have to go online and use the Unified Registration System. (Paper registration forms are no longer accepted for initial applications, so you have to use the URS. Paper forms are only accepted if you’re updating existing information.)
Currently there isn’t a charge for getting a DOT Number, and there won’t be until the URS is fully activated. However, if you need to get operating authority, too, the cost is $300.
Typically, businesses that need operating authority include those that:
- Operate as for-hire carriers.
- Transporting passengers (or arranging their transport in interstate commerce).
- Transporting federally regulated commodities (or arranging for their transport in interstate commerce).
Anyways, that’s the scoop with who needs a USDOT Number. It’s really important for you to have the proper registration…and the proper tow truck insurance. If you want to talk about insuring your tow truck business, we’d be happy to help. Get in touch with our team by filling out our online form, giving us a call, or messaging us on LiveChat. We can help you get the coverage you need to protect your business.