licences and permits

Obtaining Necessary Licenses and Permits For Your Trucking Company 

In this edition of our ‘how to’ series, we will be cover obtaining licences and permits for your business as you start off on your new venture. While the trucking industry is a vital part of the United States economy, it’s also heavily regulated. If you’re in the process of becoming a part of this all-important industry as an owner-operator or in a similar capacity, make sure your bases are covered with business licenses and permits. Here’s a rundown of what you’ll need as well as how to get your trucking business started off on the right foot.

Commercial Driver’s License

The first thing you’ll need to obtain is a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Start by getting a CDL manual from the Department of Motor Vehicles office in your area. Basic CDL requirements include:

  •  Being at least 18 –or 21 for state-to-state driving
  •  Passing a background check
  •  CDL training
  • Passing a written permit exam and driving test

Federal DOT and Motor Carrier (MC) Authority Numbers

These are numbers you’ll need to haul cargo anywhere in the United States. The U.S. Department of Transportation number certifies you’re in compliance with federal safety standards. The MC number is specific to the kind of trucking business you’ll be operating and what you’ll be hauling. These numbers are obtained from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

You’ll need to submit 2 documents to obtain these numbers:

1. Motor Carrier Identification Report (MCS-150)
2. Safety Certification Application

Note: The FMCSA must approve your application. It will be published in the Federal Register for 10 days during a mandatory “dispute” period that allows for public comments.

Unified Carrier Registration (UCR)

This is a system that confirms your insurance coverage for any state where you plan to operate. Visit the Department of Transportation website for your home state to access the UCR system. You’ll need your USDOT and MC numbers to complete this process.

International Registration Plan (IRP) Tag

You’ll also need to visit the DoT website for your home state to get this tag. It’s a license plate that allows you to operate your vehicle(s) throughout the United States and Canada.

Note: There’s an annual renewal fee to keep this tag current.

International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) Decal

When you obtain a IFTA decal, you’ll be able to have a single fuel license that’s valid in the lower 48 states plus Canada. You’ll be required to file quarterly fuel use returns for tax purposes in the state where your company is based. Visit your state’s DoT website for additional information.

Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC)

This code is used to identify different transportation-related companies. The SCAC is a privately controlled code, but it’s something you’ll need if your loads will be:

  • Military-related
  • Government-related
  • International
  • Intermodal

Other Requirements

You’ll also need to file a 2290 tax form each year when you do your taxes for the federal heavy-highway vehicle use tax. This applies if your truck weighs 55k pounds or more. Other requirements falling in the business licenses and permits category include and involve:

  • Proof of insurance filed with the FMCSA
  • An Employee Identification Number (EIN)
  • Weight distance travel permits
  • State trucking jurisdictions requirements*

*Refers to anything else that applies to the specific states where you’ll be operating as well as your home state.

Lastly, you’ll need to register an updated BOC-3 form with the FMCSA for each state where you’ll be operating. This form designates a “legal process agent” – attorney practicing in the state – to receive any communication related to legal action that may be taken against your company.

If you haven’t already, please do check out the first step in this series of how to start a trucking company. How to Legally Establish Your Trucking Company

Our next post is going to be helping you decide whether to buy or lease the right equipment.