How Much Does It Cost To Get A DOT Number?

Getting a trucking company up and running is costly and you’re probably paying very close attention to where every penny goes.  If you’re trying to allocate funds properly then you’ll need to set aside some capital for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) so that they can process your application to be a carrier of common freight.

Among all the start-up costs a trucking company will incur, getting a DOT and MC number are relatively inexpensive and will cost $300 for each individual operating authority by registering with the FMCSA. Each operating authority must have its own application and must be accompanied by its own $300 filing fee.  Keep in mind that filing fees with the FMCSA are non-refundable.

If you are not sure that you’re completing your federal application properly then you can always contract a processing agent who can help you through the process.  Of course, they will charge a fee for their time, knowledge and resources, but they will also ensure that everything gets completed in a timely manner.

Who needs to get a USDOT number?

Choosing the right type of authority for your trucking company is important since different authorities have different costs associated with them.  In general, a USDOT number is required if you are traveling with commerce across state lines (interstate) and you meet the following criteria:

  • You have either one vehicle, or multiple vehicles, that weight at least 10,000 lbs (GVWR, GCWR, GVW, GCW)
  • You transport between 9 and 15 passengers (including the driver) for compensation, either directly or indirectly
  • You transport 16 or more passengers
  • You haul hazardous material

If you are still unsure whether you need a DOT number or not, you can use the FMCSA’s tool that will guide you through the necessary questions to determine if you need one.

What are the requirements for a USDOT number?

The process of getting your DOT number is relatively easy since there are only a few steps, but you will want to have certain information about your company’s legal classification handy to make the process easier for you.  In addition to your company’s basic information, you’ll also want to have:

  1. Company operation
  2. Your operation classification
  3. Cargo classification

You will also need to know the number of vehicles that will be operating under your authority, the types of commodities you will be hauling, the types of vehicles in question, your ownership status of the vehicles (owned or leased), and whether you intend to operator on an intrastate or interstate basis.  We recommend having all of this general information consolidated into one folder so it’s always accessible. The paperwork tends to pile up so the easier you can make it on yourself to locate the needed information, the better.

Additional startup costs for a trucking company

Certainly becoming a legal trucking company with the federal DOT is a necessary part of starting your trucking company, but that cost is relatively small for a new trucking venture.  There are other costs that you’ll need to consider to make sure you are well capitalized and can sustain the sometimes unpredictable nature of this business. Here are a few other expenses you’ll need to take into account when starting:

  • Drug and alcohol compliance - this applies to both owner operators as well as fleets, having a program in place is crucial to make sure you are protecting yourself and your business
  • Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) - fees vary depending on the number of vehicles under your authority. Refer to the chart below for more details on the fees
  • Audit assistance - this is a requirement for new ventures to pass the entrant safety audit, but there are plenty of 3rd party companies that offer their starting packages for as little as $99
  • 2290 form - this is the tax form designated for the Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT).  This essentially accounts for the wear and tear associated with heavy vehicles traveling on state roads
  • Business organization - incorporating or setting up a limited liability company costs money and the cost for filing the documents can vary depending on each state.  Again, you can outsource this or you can do the filings yourself
  • Liability insurance - having liability insurance is a must as you cannot get your authority active without putting insurance in place.  You can get multiple quotes from a licensed agent who can explain the insurance process for you in detail.
  • Vehicles - of course you’ll need a vehicle to transport your goods, but you’ll need to decide on what type of vehicle (tractor, box truck, pick up truck, trailer, etc) and your budget which can range anywhere between $10,000 to $150,000
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