How Do DOT Numbers Need To Be Displayed?

If you’re a motor carrier, one of your requirements to operate your truck is to have your DOT number visibly marked. The DOT numbers are required of any transportation business that hauls cargo across state lines. They serve to help identify a vehicle when collecting and monitoring the company’s safety information during audits and inspections. This means authorities can link your vehicle to your operating company to ensure it conducts legal business.

There are regulations on how to display your DOT number on your vehicles. Clean off any markings or identifying numbers that are currently on your truck to avoid any confusion. It’s easiest to mark an outline of the area where you’ll place the DOT number and the name the entity controlling your truck. After marking the area, use a sticker to place the letters and numbers on the vehicle.

Department of Transportation guidelines state that all letters and numbers must be completely visible during the day from a distance of 50 feet away and that all text be at least two inches tall. The company name and your DOT number should be clearly and prominently displayed on both the driver and passenger side doors of the power unit. Most truck drivers apply the magnetic sign or vinyl graphics with the DOT number on the vehicle’s door.

The color used to print these numbers should contrast with the painted surface of the vehicle. This means if the DOT number is written in white, the truck background should be black for easy visibility. In essence, ensure the DOT number and letter are visible to anyone who is at a distance.

The current fee to register your own DOT and MC number under the FMCSA is $300. All you have to do is to visit the FMCSA website and register for your DOT number. However, the regulations differ from one state to another and should be considered all the time. If the DOT number is wrongly displayed on your truck, then you may be liable to fines of up to $11,000.

Note: you are not required to display the name of your city and state when displaying your DOT number.  This is done by some motor carriers for complete transparency, however, you should not feel obligated to disclose the same information.

Do You Have To Display Your MC Number?

Every interstate motor carrier is expected to display the DOT number and not the MC number for identification. With a DOT number, there is no need to display a motor carrier number because they serve the same function. For example, an MC number is used to identify carriers operating legally, allowing FMCSA to verify the status of a carrier’s insurance coverage.

The rules on identifying and marking commercial vehicles that travel from one state to another were established in 2000. These rules required all commercial motor vehicles involved in passenger and property transportation to have the DOT numbers displayed on the vehicle.

However, if you are operating a carrier for hire, you will need both a DOT number on the power unit as well as the MC number. The MC number of for-hire carriers.

Are Magnetic DOT Numbers Legal?

One of the questions involving US DOT numbers is whether they can use magnetic signs to display them. The rules do not mention the legality of using magnetic signs to accomplish the DOT display on your truck. The US DOT publication states that vehicles must be marked with DOT numbers, but it does not mention how it should be marked. This means it is not necessarily illegal to use magnetic dot numbers. Therefore, removable magnetic signs are a legitimate way to display your DOT numbers on the trucks.

If you use vinyl graphics, the numbers will be attached to the sticker and applied to the vehicle door. Similarly, you may use a magnetic or adhesive plaque to fasten your DOT number in place. The only exception is to ensure the magnetic plate does not move or negatively affect legibility.

Where To Purchase DOT Number Stickers

The DOT stickers are an alternative to magnetic signs for your DOT compliant vehicle numbers. Most truckers use these labels made from vinyl materials because they last extremely well and they are easy to remove as needed. We’ve priced them out at several places and found that you can pick them up really cheap from Amazon.

These are extremely convenient because you can order them in any text, font, color or size that is right for your business.  These vinyl stickers can be applied to metal, plastic, rubber, fiberglass and a host of other materials.  Keep in mind that you’ll want to stick with the 2” tall text for compliance and easy visibility. 

In essence, you have to register with the FMCSA to obtain the DOT number before purchasing a DOT number sticker. This number can then be applied to a DOT sticker, such as a vinyl graphic, to be used to the truck door. The stickers are made from vinyl materials to ensure it does not fade easily.

They are also offered in a variety of colors to ensure the DOT sticker contrasts with a background. The premium vinyl stickers come with a high tack adhesive with a ten-year guarantee. Some of the labels are pigmented throughout the material to ensure the lettering for your truck carrier is exceptional.

DOT number stickers are different from the ink-jetted decals that will fade in UV light. Instead, they are designed with a block style font that is a standard for all stickers. They are also designed in different designs and colors. The vinyl stickers for DOT numbers come when pre-spaced on a wax liner and guaranteed to last up to 8 or 10 years.

Do I Need A DOT Number For Personal Use?

If you have a vehicle used to transport any material that requires a safety permit, you must obtain a DOT number. This applies to anyone who hauls interstate cargo or carries passengers or hazardous substances. At the same time, you will need a DOT number if you have a vehicle that engages in intra-state or inter-state transporting of passengers for compensation.  If you’re interested in information on how long it takes to get a DOT number then you should check out this post.

There has been confusion on who is required to have a DOT number with some feeling that it is only needed for truckers hauling for hire. However, this is not the case. A DOT number is a prerequisite for anyone who owns a truck for personal or business use. This is applied to any vehicle or truck operating on highways from one state to another.

In essence, this number is needed, whether you own one truck or 100. Every motor carrier operator and the driver must comply with the regulations by FMCSR, which are safety measures meant to protect property and save lives. You need to check with your local state DOT office to understand the law or contact FMCSA to register for a DOT number.