is a privately owned website unaffiliated with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or any other government agency.


Understanding USDOT Compliance

Navigating The Road To Trucking Compliance

Table of Contents

If you own a trucking business, a private fleet, or any other carrier that has a certain weight and holds a number of passengers or items transported from one state to another, then you might be aware of something called a USDOT number. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, then you might be catching yourself in some legal trouble!

But that’s what this blog is here to prevent. Whether you plan to transport cargo or people across state lines, a USDOT number is a specific number provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for every single vehicle that is registered as a commercial carrier. In the trucking industry, this small number is one of the most important things to have for all carriers if you want to keep your business operations running smoothly.

Let’s go ahead and find out more about the USDOT number for carriers!

What is the Meaning of a USDOT?

A USDOT number gives a unique identification for businesses operating commercial vehicles involved in interstate transportation of passengers or cargo. Issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), it plays a crucial role in monitoring and regulating companies’ compliance with safety standards.

Think of it as a license plate but for companies, not cars. So, whenever you see a big truck, you might notice a number like USDOT1523020 painted on it. That’s the USDOT number. It’s usually found on the side of the truck’s cab, near the driver’s door.

By tracking and assessing safety information associated with these numbers, the FMCSA aims to enhance road safety and mitigate risks posed by improperly trained drivers or non-compliant companies.

How Do I Check My USDOT Number?

  1. Online: Visit the SAFER website and use the search feature. SAFER stands for Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System and it’s actually an online database created by the FMSCA for this purpose only. You can search by your name, USDOT number, or MC number to find your information.
  2. Submit a ticket: Go to the FMCSA website at At the top of the page, you’ll see an icon labled “Send Us a Ticket” which leads you to a ticket submissions page with the required fields. You’ll receive a tracking number for your inquiry.
  3. Chat: Start a live chat with FMCSA Customer Service representatives who can assist you with your USDOT number inquiry.
  4. Phone: Call the FMCSA Customer Service hotline at 800-832-5660 to speak directly with a representative who can provide information about your USDOT number.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to halt your business operations for days to wait for the USDOT number because the process is pretty quick. Once you complete the application and submit it through the Unified Registration System (URS) by the FMCSA, you will get your USDOT number online almost immediately. But this doesn’t mean that your work is done here. Once you receive the number, there are a few additional steps like completing the biennial update which you have to keep track of later on.

Commercial vehicles of certain sizes and types require USDOT numbers for operation in the United States. Here’s a breakdown of when you need a USDOT number:

  1. Interstate Routes: If you’ll be driving a commercial vehicle on interstate routes, regardless of the vehicle’s size or type, you’ll need a USDOT number.
  2. Vehicle Weight: Vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds require a USDOT number for operation.
  3. Passenger Transportation: If you’re transporting passengers for compensation and the vehicle can carry between nine to 15 passengers, or if it carries 16 or more passengers without compensation, a USDOT number is necessary.
  4. Hazardous Materials: Any vehicle transporting hazardous materials will require a USDOT number.

While most states require a USDOT number for various commercial vehicle operations, there are some states that are an exception for this number.

Why Is a USDOT Number Required?

Here are some reasons why the USDOT number is an important requirement to follow for all carriers:

  1. Safety First: When businesses get a USDOT number, they promise to follow important safety rules set by the government. This means they take good care of their vehicles, make sure their drivers know what they’re doing, and handle hazardous materials safely.
  2. Following the Rules: Having a USDOT number means that businesses are accountable and regulated by the government. It allows authorities to track and monitor commercial vehicles to make sure that they’re following the rules and regulations set forth by the FMCSA.
  3. Building Trust: When a company displays a USDOT number, it shows a level of professionalism and commitment to compliance. It enhances transparency and trust between businesses, customers, and regulatory authorities. People feel more confident knowing that a business with a USDOT number is operating legally and responsibly.

What Is The Difference Between a DOT and an MC Number?

A Motor Carrier(MC) number is another unique identifier set by the FMCSA for commercial vehicles that transport people and cargo both within the state and across different state lines too. While the MC number may seem similar to the USDOT number, both of them have a few differences.

  1. Appearance: DOT numbers always start with “USDOT” and are displayed on the vehicle’s cab. MC numbers, on the other hand, are shorter and typically start with the state abbreviation where the company operates, also found on the vehicle’s cab.
  2. Meaning: While a DOT number is more like a file number in the FMCSA system, indicating registration, an MC number is an operating certificate that grants permission to function as a trucking company.
  3. Classifications: Each company has a single DOT number classification, which serves as a unified record. However, under an MC number, a company may have multiple classifications, especially if transporting different goods across state lines.
  4. Requirement: Most companies operating vehicles for profit need both a DOT and MC number, with few exceptions in states where a DOT number isn’t mandatory for small fleets.

Maintaining USDOT Number Compliance

Getting a USDOT number for your carriers is not a one-time thing that you set and forget. It’s important to keep your information up to date for the FMCSA to keep track. This includes going through a mandatory biennial update process where you confirm or update the details they have on file for your company.

Failing to keep your USDOT information current can have serious consequences for your business. It could result in fines or even temporary shutdowns of your operations. According to the FMCSA, if you fail to complete the biennial update of your USDOT number then be prepared for a deactivation of your number and civil penalties ranging from $1,000 per day to $10,000.

The Importance of Accurate USDOT Information

Accurate information associated with your USDOT number is absolutely critical for several reasons.

First and foremost, it directly impacts safety assessments. The data linked to your USDOT number, such as vehicle maintenance records and driver qualifications, is used by authorities to check your company’s safety performance. Inaccurate information could lead to incorrect safety assessments, potentially putting both your drivers and other road users at risk.

Secondly, accurate USDOT information helps in audit results. During compliance reviews and audits, regulatory agencies like the FMCSA rely on this data to make sure that your company is following all necessary regulations and safety protocols.

Customers, partners, and the general public may view your company as less trustworthy or reliable if they discover discrepancies or inaccuracies in your information. This could harm your reputation and affect your business opportunities.

Renewing Your USDOT Number: A Step-by-Step Guide

Renewing your USDOT number involves completing and submitting an MCS-150 form, which is done every two years. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

  • Access the Licensing and Insurance (L&I) Website: Visit the L&I website to access the online platform for updating your USDOT number information.
  • Get a Personal Identification Number (PIN): Before updating online, you’ll need to acquire a PIN. You can apply for this PIN through the website.
  • Complete the MCS-150 Form: The MCS-150 form is specifically designed for the biennial update of your USDOT number registration. Fill out all required fields with accurate information about your company, including details about your fleet, operations, and ownership.
  • Determine the Filing Timing: Unlike specific deadlines, the timing for filing the MCS-150 form is determined by the next-to-last digit of your DOT number. Follow these steps to determine when to file:
    • Check the next-to-last digit of your DOT number.
    • If it’s odd, file your MCS-150 form in years ending with odd numbers (e.g., 2013, 2017, 2023, etc.).
    • If it’s even, file your MCS-150 form in years ending with even numbers (e.g., 2022, 2024, 2026, etc.).
  • Submit the Form: Once you’ve completed the MCS-150 form and verified the timing for filing, submit it through the online platform. Ensure that all information provided is accurate and up-to-date.

Head over to’s filing portal to file quick, easy and with confidence. Stop worrying about tracking all filing dates and let one of’s filing experts help with carrying the compliance load.

Navigating State-Specific USDOT Requirements

The USDOT number has different requirements for states all over the US, so it’s important to be aware of them before you apply for it.

Begin by researching the specific regulations and requirements imposed by the states in which you operate or plan to operate. This may include additional registration processes, reporting obligations, or specific documentation needed for commercial vehicles.

While the USDOT number primarily applies to interstate commerce, some states may require commercial vehicles engaged in intrastate commerce to comply with similar regulations.

Keep thorough records of all documentation related to state-specific USDOT requirements, including registrations, permits, and reports.

If you live and operate from any of the following states, then you will have to apply for the USDOT number:

– Alabama

– Alaska

– Arizona

– California

– Colorado

– Connecticut

– Florida

– Georgia

– Idaho

– Indiana

– Iowa

– Kansas

– Kentucky

– Maine

– Maryland

– Massachusetts

– Michigan

– Minnesota

– Missouri

– Nebraska

– Nevada

– New Jersey

– New York

– North Carolina

– Ohio

– Oklahoma

– Oregon

– Pennsylvania

– South Carolina

– Texas

– Utah

– Washington

– West Virginia

– Wisconsin

– Wyoming