Getting your USDOT number is a big step for many new trucking companies. But it is only one step out of many required to conduct business as a legally authorized company. Since the entire process can take some time, the question of how long it takes to get a USDOT number is one of the most frequently asked questions.
The Process of Requesting a USDOT Number
The United States Department of Transportation issues a USDOT number. It is a number used to verify with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that you are operating legally as a trucking company. DOT numbers also serve as identifying numbers for collecting and monitoring a trucking company’s safety information collected during audits, compliance reviews, crash investigations, and inspections.
With only a few exceptions, all trucking companies require a USDOT number. The FMCSA notes that a DOT number is required if you have a vehicle used to transport the types and quantities of hazardous materials requiring a safety permit in intrastate commerce.
Criteria for a USDOT Number
All motor vehicles that meet the following criteria require a USDOT number:
- Have a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more
- Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation
- Is designed or used to transport more than fifteen passengers (including the driver) and is not used to transport passengers for compensation
Additionally, motor vehicles involved in interstate commerce require a USDOT number. Interstate commerce is defined as trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States. Examples of interstate commerce are travel:
- Between a place in a state and a place outside of such state, including places outside of the United States.
- Between two places in a state through another state or a place outside of the United States.
- Between two places in a state as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the state or the United States.
In addition to these criteria, nearly all states (39 of 50) require that intrastate commercial motor vehicle registrants obtain a USDOT number. So the bottom line is that nearly all trucking companies will require a USDOT number.
How long does it take to get a USDOT number?
A USDOT number can be obtained fairly quickly, in some instances, less than an hour if you use the Unified Registration System. However, if you need a motor carrier number, also called operating authority, it will take longer to issue this number. Unlike the USDOT number, which can be issued immediately, the motor carrier number requires 21 business days as a vetting and protest period before the number can become active.
However, if you are simply looking for a USDOT number, you can get it quickly by accessing FMCSA’s Unified Registration System. Knowing what you will need is also a good idea to speed up the process. There are a few steps in completing a USDOT number application, and the process can take several hours if you aren’t prepared for it.
Therefore, the recommended preparatory steps for speeding up the process of getting your USDOT numbers include the following:
Collect your required documents
The application for a USDOT number requires your Employee Identification Number or Social Security Number, your Unique Entity Identifier (formerly your DUNS number), and the names and titles of all company officers. You may also be asked to provide information about the company’s operations, number of vehicles, typo of vehicles, ownership of vehicles, and driver statuses. Having all of these documents near you is a good idea before starting the registration process.
Access the FMCSA’s Unified Registration System
Once on this page, you will see an option that says, “To Get Started, Click Here.” Selecting this option will guide you through the FMCSA registration process and create an account. As a user, you will be assigned an applicant ID, which is required when you submit your application for a USDOT number. You will have to complete the application for a DOT number within thirty days of creating the account, or FMCSA will delete your user account, and you will have to restart the process when you are ready.
Complete the application process
The online application will walk you through the steps of applying for a USDOT number. This includes a section where you will need to enter your company’s information, including:
- Your name and the name of your company
- Your company’s principal business address
- Your business’s phone number, email address, and any other pertinent contact information
- Your Social Security number or Employer Identification Number (EIN)
You will also have to select an operator classification as part of your USDOT number application. Most DOT number applicants will select either ‘for hire’ or private passenger.
Select your cargo classification
Within your application, you previously provided information to let FMCSA know who you will be working for, but they also want to know what type of cargo you will be hauling. There are several cargo classifications, including:
- General freight
- Household goods
- Farm supplies
In addition to these categories, you must also indicate whether you are transporting hazardous materials. Transporting hazardous materials requires additional compliance measures.
Sign and date the application
Once you have completed the DOT application in its entirety, you will have to certify that the information you provided is true and accurate, which is done by providing an authorized signature. Only an owner, a partner, or an authorized representative of the company may sign this form.
Upon submission of your online application, a USDOT number will be provided instantly unless the application is rejected. In addition, a carrier notification letter will be sent in the mail.
If you are mailing your application, it will take four to six weeks to process the application and receive a number assignment.
Given this information, a USDOT number can be attained very quickly, or it can take a lot of time. It’s up to the applicant to decide how they want to apply, which impacts the length of time they will need to wait.
No doubt you have plenty of other tasks to tackle in running your business. Authority Express can handle this for you in a professional and efficient manner. This will free you up to focus on growing and running your business. Give us a call to discuss how we can help.