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What is a DOT Number and Who Needs One?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires a Department of Transportation (DOT) number for trucks and other carrier vehicles that meet certain criteria. These typically pertain to weight, whether the vehicle carries paying customers, and whether the carrier vehicle routinely crosses state lines. In addition to the federal regulations, 37 of the 50 states require a DOT number. (The FMCSA has a list of the states that require a DOT Number.)

It can be confusing, especially as a new operator, to understand if the regulation pertains to you and whether you need to obtain a DOT number. We hope that the FMCSA regulations below will bring more clarity to this issue for you.

How to Know if You Need a DOT Number

The FMCSA requires all carrier vehicles to apply for a DOT number if they regularly transport specific quantities and types of hazardous materials that would normally require an interstate commerce permit. If this statement does not apply in your situation, you will need to review the following and obtain a DOT number if one or more them is relevant to you:

  • Manufacturers designed the vehicle you drive to transport 15 or more passengers. This includes the driver, who does not receive compensation from any of the passengers.
  • The design of the vehicle is appropriate for the transportation of eight more passengers, including the driver, and the passengers pay the driver to transport them to a specific destination.
  • The vehicle weighs more than 10,000 pounds (4,536 kg), has a gross combination weight rating, or a gross vehicle weight rating.

The FMCSA also requires a DOT number when you are routinely involved with interstate transport. The agency defines interstate transport as a destination that begins in one state and ends in another, between two destination points within a state that requires the driver to pass through a different state, or between two destinations in a single state as part of transportation, trade, or transport that originates outside of the original state or outside of the country.

What is the Purpose of DOT Certification?

A DOT number, also known as DOT certification, represents that the driver has passed certain quality measures that prove him or her skillful and competent enough to maneuver a carrier vehicle on any road or highway in the United States. You will need to obtain DOT certification if you wish to obtain a commercial driver’s license. If you are applying for a driver position for the first time, you should know that most employers require applicants to already have a commercial driver’s license because it indicates that he or she has received certification from DOT.

To obtain your DOT certification, you must pass several skills tests and a physical examination. You will receive your DOT number directly from the United States Department of Transportation. The DOT requires commercial drivers to take the qualifying tests and physical exam once every two years to remain certified.

We’re Here to Help

We understand that big rig insurance can seem overwhelming. We invite you to contact us at 678-271-3449 for additional clarification or with questions about your truck insurance needs. Or, if you prefer, you can fill out our online quote form to get in touch with us. We’re here to help you get 18 wheeler insurance quotes for your business.