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When Do I Need A DOT Number? When Do I Need an MC Number?

If you want to start a trucking business, you must understand the distinction between an MC Number and a DOT Number. In this blog, we will define both and explain what types of trucking operations will need them.

What is a DOT Number?

A U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT, DOT) number is a unique number that identifies a company and is used for collecting and monitoring their safety information. You will see DOT numbers typically displayed on both sides of a commercial motor vehicle’s doors or cab.

Who needs a DOT Number?

DOT numbers are required when:

  • Your vehicle is involved in interstate (crosses state lines) commerce

  • Your gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight is more than 10,000 pounds

  • Your vehicle is designed to transport 8 or more passengers for compensation; 15 or more for no compensation

  • Your vehicle is used to transport hazardous materials requiring a safety permit in intrastate commerce

To learn more about who needs a US DOT number, visit the FMCSA website here.

How can I apply for a DOT Number?

Getting a DOT number is free! You can apply for a DOT number by visiting the FMCSA’s website and applying online via the Unified Registration System (URS).

The Unified Registration System (URS) is an online federal registration system that facilitates the registration of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and the drivers and companies that operate them. It is an electronic online registration system that streamlines the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) registration process and serves as a clearinghouse and depository of information on all major entities regulated by the Agency.

The URS is designed to make it easier for businesses to register and maintain their registration, while also improving safety and compliance in the trucking industry.

What is an MC Number?

An MC number is NOT the same thing as a DOT number. A DOT number is one of the requirements for obtaining an MC number. Motor Carrier numbers (MC, MX, FF) are different from DOT numbers in that they dictate the type of operation a company can run and the type of cargo it may carry. An MC number grants a trucking company the authority to cross state lines with cargo on board. These numbers are also displayed on both sides of the truck.

Who needs an MC Number?

MC numbers are required when:

  • Your business is operating as a for-hire carrier in interstate commerce

  • You are transporting passengers, or arranging for their transport, in interstate commerce

  • You are transporting federally regulated commodities or arranging for their transport, in interstate commerce

Carriers, freight brokers, and freight forwarders engaging in the above activities are required to have operating authority (MC Number).

How can I apply for an MC Number?

You must have a DOT number to apply for an MC Number. Please see our other blog for a step-by-step guide on how to receive operating authority (MC Number).

What are common misconceptions surrounding DOT and MC Numbers?

DOT Numbers are only for large commercial vehicles.

DOT numbers are required for a variety of commercial vehicles, not just large semi-trucks.

MC Numbers are only for carriers.

Freight Forwarders and Freight Brokers are also required to get an MC number if they engage in arranging transportation in interstate commerce.

DOT and MC Numbers are interchangeable.

DOT and MC numbers serve different purposes. DOT numbers identify carriers and monitor safety compliance, while MC numbers grant operating authority for interstate commerce.

DOT and MC Numbers are costly.

Getting a DOT number is free. The application filing fee for getting an MC Number is $300.


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Soshaul Logistics LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. It is meant to serve as a guide and information only and Soshaul Logistics, LLC does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. Contents may not be relied upon as a substitute for the FMCSA's published regulations. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.


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