Affiliate Disclaimer: All products and services featured are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Moving can be a stressful experience, and finding the right moving company is crucial to ensure a smooth transition. One essential aspect to consider while vetting moving companies is their U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) numbers. These identification numbers help federal authorities track each company’s safety record and compliance with various regulations.
In this guide, we’ll explain what a USDOT number is and why it matters when you’re choosing a company to help you move.
USDOT Number Explained
USDOT numbers are unique identifiers assigned to companies that operate commercial motor vehicles—including interstate moving companies. This number system helps the USDOT track each company’s safety information, including the results of compliance reviews, safety audits, and inspections. Consumers can also enter the number into the registered movers database to ensure a company adheres to federal safety and regulatory standards.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the USDOT, oversees the USDOT number system.
What Does the Certification Mean?
A USDOT certification verifies that a moving company or commercial vehicle operator has met the necessary requirements to operate legally in interstate commerce. These requirements include the following:
- Following federal safety protocols
- Maintaining appropriate insurance coverage
- Undergoing regular inspections and audits
By obtaining a USDOT number, the moving company demonstrates its commitment to providing safe and reliable services to its clients. It enables customers and regulatory agencies to access its safety performance history and compliance information. This transparency can help customers evaluate and compare moving companies, giving them insight into the company’s track record and professionalism.
Why Is It Required?
USDOT numbers are required for several reasons, including the following:
- Consumer protection: By requiring moving companies to obtain a USDOT number, the FMCSA has made it easier for consumers to research a company’s track record. This allows customers to make informed decisions when choosing a moving company and avoid moving scams.
- Legal compliance: Moving companies are required to have USDOT numbers to transport goods across state lines legally. This requirement ensures that companies comply with federal regulations, which are designed to protect the public and maintain a safe transportation environment.
- Safety and accountability: The USDOT number system allows federal and state agencies to monitor a company’s safety performance and regulation compliance. Regular inspections and audits help maintain a high level of safety in the transportation industry, reducing the risk of accidents and other issues that could endanger the public.
In addition to a USDOT number, interstate moving companies must obtain a motor carrier (MC) number from the FMCSA. They must also comply with the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) system and the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) if they operate across multiple states. Moving companies must also ensure each driver possesses a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Who Needs a USDOT Number?
Companies that operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce must obtain a USDOT number. Some companies involved in intrastate commerce may also need a USDOT number, depending on the type of cargo they transport and specific state regulations.
Here’s an overview of entities that need USDOT numbers:
- Interstate commerce: Companies that operate commercial motor vehicles to transport goods or passengers across state lines must obtain USDOT numbers. This includes moving companies that transport household goods between states, trucking companies that carry freight across state lines, and passenger carriers that provide interstate transport services.
- Intrastate commerce with specific weight requirements: Some states require USDOT numbers for intrastate carriers if their vehicles meet or exceed certain weight thresholds. These weight requirements vary by state and may refer to the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), gross combination weight rating (GCWR), or the total weight of a vehicle and its cargo.
- Intrastate hazmat carriers: Companies that transport hazardous materials within a single state may need USDOT numbers if federal regulations require them to obtain a safety permit.
The following states and territories require carriers to obtain a USDOT number regardless of whether they participate in interstate commerce:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Companies that operate commercial motor vehicles should check their state’s regulations to ensure compliance with USDOT number requirements.
How to Look Up a USDOT Number
You can find a moving company’s USDOT number in three places:
- Company website: A reputable long-distance moving company usually displays its USDOT number on its website, often in the footer or on its “About Us” page.
- Moving contract or estimate: The moving company should also include its USDOT number on any contracts, estimates, or paperwork it provides to you.
- FMCSA website: If you cannot locate a company’s USDOT number on its website or paperwork, you can search for it on the FMCSA website using the mover search tool. Enter the company’s name, and its USDOT number should appear in the search results.
You can also look up a company’s USDOT number in the FMCSA’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System by following these steps:
- Visit the FMCSA website: Go to the FMCSA’s SAFER System at safer.fmcsa.dot.gov.
- Enter the required information: The SAFER System allows you to search for a company’s information using its USDOT number, MC number, or official name. If you want to find a company’s USDOT number, simply enter its name.
- Click the “Search” button: After entering the company’s name, click the “Search” button to view the company’s safety and compliance records. Then, select the company whose information you would like to review from the list of results.
- Review the search results: The “Company Snapshot” provided by the FMCSA includes a wealth of information. The company’s USDOT number will be shown in the upper right-hand corner of the page. You can also click on various tabs to review detailed information regarding the company’s operations, inspections, crashes, and safety rating.
USDOT numbers help ensure that companies involved in interstate commerce or specific intrastate commerce activities adhere to federal safety and regulatory standards. These unique identifiers are a vital component of the transportation industry, playing a key role in public safety and consumer protection efforts.
When searching for a moving or transportation company, always verify its USDOT number to ensure it operates legally and complies with safety standards. By looking up a company’s USDOT number on the FMCSA website, you can access valuable information about its safety performance and compliance history. This information, in turn, can help you find a reliable and professional service provider that makes your moving experience smoother and less stressful.
USDOT Number FAQ
What is the purpose of a USDOT number?
The purpose of a USDOT number is to enable the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to monitor a company’s safety performance and regulation compliance. USDOT numbers are unique identifiers assigned to companies that operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce, as well as some companies engaged in intrastate commerce. Consumers and regulatory agencies can use USDOT numbers to determine a company’s track record and compliance status. This accountability system helps to prevent scams and maintain a high safety level within the transportation industry.
What is the difference between a USDOT number and a DOT number?
There is no difference between a USDOT number and a DOT number. Both terms refer to the same unique identifier assigned to interstate moving and transportation companies by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
How do you get a USDOT number?
To get a USDOT number, companies must register online via the Unified Registration System (URS). Here are the steps:Determine whether you need a USDOT number under state or federal regulations.Complete an online application using the URS Registration Wizard. (Paper MCS-150 forms are no longer accepted for initial registration.)Submit your application electronically.Receive your USDOT number after your application has been processed and approved.