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Most often asked US DOT Regulation Questions with Answers

Over almost 20 years in business we hear a lot of questions regarding US DOT numbers. Listed below are some of the most popular questions our sales team has received, answered for you in one place!

What Are The Requirements for a DOT number? The US DOT requires that companies operating vehicles for commercial use, including transporting people or hauling cargo or merchandise be registered with the US Department of Transportation. Upon registering with the US DOT, they will issue a unique number to your company. 

What markings must be on a CMV? The US Department of Transportation requires that all commercial motor vehicles display the company name the way it is listed on the US DOT registration form MCS-150 and the specific number that was issued to the company by the agency with US DOT preceding it. 

What is a DOT sticker? A DOT sticker is a sticker that displays the number issued to a company that operates a vehicle for commercial use. A DOT sticker is required to be displayed on all company vehicles. 

Do DOT numbers have to be on the door? The US Department of Transportation requires that the company name and the DOT number to be displayed on both sides of the power unit of the vehicle. They can be installed anywhere that will be visible from 50 feet away on the power unit. 

What does a USDOT number cost? The standard application fee for a US DOT number through FMCSA requires a filing fee of $300.00, however there are agency's that can help you get it faster for an additional fee. You will also be required to install the company name and DOT number on the vehicle which ranges in price.

What is the fine for not having a DOT number? Fines for operating a CMV without a valid DOT number can be very expensive. They range in price from $3,000 and go up to $115,000 or more depending on the infraction. It can be very costly to operate outside of FMCSA guidelines and it is not recommended. 

What weight requires a DOT number? A USDOT number is required if you are operating a commercial vehicle while participating in interstate commerce and meet the criteria of FMCSA that requires a company to register. A general rule of thumb is if your vehicle is over 10,000 pounds, you transport 9-15 passengers for compensation or 16 or more passengers, or you haul hazardous materials you will be required to have a valid US DOT number.

Do I need a DOT Number if not for hire? If you transport hazardous materials for intrastate commerce you will be required to register for a DOT number. If you have a gross vehicle weight of over 10,000 pounds or transport 8 or more passengers for compensation you will need a DOT number. If you are transporting goods for commerce between states (intrastate), you will be required to have a valid USDOT number. If you are hauling your own goods that are not for sale and you are not be compensated for such goods, and the gross vehicle weight is less than 10,000 pounds, you should not be required to have a DOT number, but you may want to display a NOT FOR HIRE sign on your vehicle so that you are less likely to be inspected. 

What vehicles are required to have a DOT inspection? Commercial motor vehicles (CMV) that weight 10,000 pounds or more are required by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to be inspected by the US Department of Transportation. 

How big should DOT numbers be? You USDOT number should be visible by someone with 20/20 vision or corrected vision from 50' away. 2 inch (2") tall lettering is visible from 50 feet away and would be the minimum size lettering for US DOT compliance. 

How do you become DOT compliant? To become US DOT compliant you must meet all FMCSA requirements. You will want to first apply for your companies US DOT number. They will require you to complete pre and post trip inspections of your vehicles and provide documentation. You will also need to develop a vehicle maintenance program and keep it up to date. You will need to mark your vehicle with the company name and US DOT number using either adhesive vinyl decals or magnetic signs, and you will need to maintain a recored of any and all incidents for each vehicle in your fleet.

Where do you put DOT numbers on the truck?  All markings that the US Department of Transportation requires on the vehicle needs to be on the power unit. The numbers should not go on the trailer. It is standard pratice to install them on both the driver's and passenger side doors or on the sleeper or access panel on the cab of a semi truck. As long as they are on both sides of the power train and visible from 50' away you will be compliant. 

What would trigger a USDOT inspection? The main reason you would be inspected outside of your pre and post inspections required at the time of your application would be accidents or traffic violations. 

Do DOT numbers expire? US DOT Numbers require biennial updates.

What states require a DOT number? Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming all required commercial vehicles to have a valid US DOT Number. 

What is an MC number and who needs one? An operating authority or Motor Carrier number is an interstate number that is issued to people or companies that are operating a motor vehicle for interstate commerce, operating for hire or transporting passengers, or if transporting federally regulated goods or commodities in interstate commerce. 

Does the Department of Transportation require first aid kits in trucks? While a first aid kit is not required by the DOT, it is a great safety item to have inside your vehicle.

What emergency equipment does the US DOT require to be inside a commercial vehicle? Each commercial motor vehicle mush have a fire extinguisher, spare fuses, and warning devices for stopped vehicles. The warning devices include 3 bidirectional emergency triangles that are reflective for nighttime visibility, 6 flare that will burn for 30 minutes or more, and three liquid burning flares that will burn for at least 1 hour. 

What are US DOT number size requirements? To meet the regulations of FMCSA and USDOT, you must have the numbers be visible and readable from at least 50 feet away. 

How do vinyl USDOT registration numbers get applied? DOT Number decals (stickers) are applied to the left and right side of the vehicle. They are normally pre-spaced on a backer sheet with a mask sheet over them. Most dealers of US DOT vinyl decals or stickers will provide an instruction sheet and application tool with sticker orders. 

Do vinyl USDOT registration numbers come as individual numbers or on one sheet? If you are ordering a die cut vinyl decal, the numbers would come on one sheet so that you do not have to line up each individual letter and number. 

How do you design vinyl USDOT registration numbers? It is best to use an easy to read font for your US DOT number decals. Since the lettering has to be visible from 50 feet away, it is best to go with a block style arial bold font. 

Do I need to hire someone to apply for my DOT Number? While it is not necessary to hire a third party compliance service for your DOT registration, for companies that want assistance in staying compliant, it can be beneficial. Third party DOT registration assistance will allow you to focus on your business and leave the tedious navigation of DOT regulations to the professionals. In addition to getting your company registered, they can keep your company filings up to date, and they stay up on all the rules and regulations and this will help you to avoid costly fines or penalties.