USDOT Numbers: What Carriers need to know

April 26, 2024

Team ACV




USDOT Numbers: What Carriers need to know

ACV facts & figures

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If you are a carrier, it’s important that you have a USDOT number when you are involved in passenger and freight transportation. Since there are many legal requirements to navigate in this industry, we’ve put together a guide to help you get started and understand everything you need to know about USDOT numbers, including what a USDOT number is, what the USDOT number requirements are, and why it matters for your business. 

What Is a USDOT Number?

USDOT numbers apply to carriers who are involved in freight transportation. The number is assigned by the Department of Transportation1 to any company that has commercial passenger vehicles or cargo vehicles, and it gives them permission to transport those goods or people. Typically, you can find this number listed on the back of the cab of every truck. There are some guidelines that determine who is required to have a USDOT number2

  • Any vehicle that transports hazardous materials 
  • Vehicles with a gross weight of over 10,000 pounds
  • Those that are used to transport more than eight passengers as a paid service
  • Those that are used to transport more than 15 passengers as a free service
  • Any vehicles that do interstate commerce through transportation3 

Why Are USDOT Numbers Important? 

USDOT numbers are important for three key reasons. First, they ensure safety for drivers, other individuals on the road, and businesses because the numbers numbers help with case tracking in a variety of situations, including legal compliance, accidents, investigations, and insurance requirements.

Second, the USDOT number establishes credibility and formality for a business in the industry, helping drive your reputation.

Third—and most importantly—they are legally required. 

How Do You Get a USDOT Number?

To obtain a USDOT number, businesses must follow an application process. There are a handful of USDOT number requirements within the application, so be prepared to gather all necessary legal documentation. You will need to include:

  • All personal contact information and driver’s license details
  • Your business’s EIN or your personal SSN 
  • Your business insurance information 
  • Details of the types of vehicles you will be using and how many there are 
  • What you will be transporting 
  • Your DOT cargo classification 
  • A credit card number to authenticate your identity (which will also incur a small fee)

This application can be completed through the FMCSA website or a third-party provider. The registration process is free, but you will be asked to identify the class of your business; each classification is $300 plus state fees, which vary. 

How Is a USDOT Number Different Than a Certification?

While the USDOT number provides a business with permission to operate, the DOT Certification proves an individual is able to operate freight from a physical and mental point of view. This certification is also called a DOT Medical Certification or DOT card. Every driver needs a certification, but USDOT Number is just for carriers. 

The USDOT Number-Checking Process Explained

If you’re curious about the USDOT number for a given business, number searches can be used to check the validity of a freight carrier company. The FMCSA database provides each company’s address and contact info, as well as their number status. 

The database allows searches based on the DOT number or company name. If you find that a business is listed as inactive, then they are not in compliance with requirements. If it is listed as out of service, then they have failed some sort of requirement. And finally, if it is not authorized, they have expired documents or are suspended for a similar reason. 

For carriers, it is important to check your own DOT number in the database regularly to ensure there is no fraudulent company using your number. This can happen within the trucking industry and is a serious form of identity theft. Double-check the contact info associated with your number—any discrepancies are an indicator of potential fraud.4 

Partner With ACV Transport

Gain access to carrier opportunities across the US by working with ACV Transportation. We work with dealerships across the country to deliver vehicle inventory, and working with us means you get access to an account manager, fast payments, and a Preferred Carrier Program. Get started today to learn more. 

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation. “Newsroom.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved April 19, 2024. 
  2. FMCSA. “Do I need a USDOT number?” FMCSA. Retrieved April 19, 2024. 
  3. Hunter, S. and Pelchen, L. 2024. “What is a USDOT number and how do you look it up?” Forbes. Retrieved April 19, 2024. 
  4. Truckstop. “USDOT Numbers: A comprehensive guide for carriers.” Truckstop. Retrieved April 19, 2024.