Today I would like to take some time to address one of the most common questions we get here from citizens at CVD Headquarters: Do I need a USDOT Number?
Over a decade ago, the Washington State Legislature enacted RCW 46.32.080 which requires all motor carriers with a commercial motor vehicle to acquire a USDOT number. This law applies to intrastate carriers specifically.
You are an intrastate carrier if your business meets EVERYTHING listed below:
- Never go across State lines or ships to a place outside the United States
- Never leave the United States or U.S. territory to a foreign country, or vice versa
- Never has business that starts or ends within the State, but goes through another State or foreign country during transport.
You are an interstate carrier if any part of your business moves property or passengers and meets ANY of the following listed below:
- Crosses State lines (including a place outside the United States)
- Goes from the United States or a U.S. territory to a foreign country, or vice versa
- Has business that starts or ends within the State, but goes through another State or foreign country during transport.
In order to help motor carriers better understand who is affected by the law, the WSP created a pamphlet and posted it in our documents and resources page, where you can also find all sorts of other useful items such as general forms and explanations of rules and regulations. The criteria is pretty simple:
- The vehicles must be in commerce. A commercial motor vehicle is used to transport property or passengers for profit, or the use of which is deducted from taxes, or that involves corporate sponsorship.
- Vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 16,001 pounds and above OR if the vehicle is hauling a trailer with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or above, and the entire combination is greater than 16,001 pounds.
The purpose of having a number is to track your safety record—this record is based on things like collision history and driver/vehicle inspections conducted at scale facilities or roadside.
Now for the questions we hear most often:
Where do I find my GVWR? Take a look at the label on the inside from of the driver’s door. Or the engine compartment, or in the owner’s manual. Trailers typically have a plate near the front. Do not rely on what is printed on a registration.
But I am only hauling things for my personal use—do I need a number? Are you being compensated for your work or claiming it as a tax deduction? Are you being paid for your costs? In essence, are you engaged in commerce—if so, you need a USDOT number.
What about farmers? Farmers with vehicles meeting the criteria still need a USDOT number, but they are exempt from other requirements.
If you need a USDOT number, simply go to the FMCSA website: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration
And remember, getting a USDOT number and maintaining it is absolutely free of charge. You can do it yourself—you do not need any assistance from companies who only wish to charge you an administrative fee. If you still have questions, call us at 360-596-3812.
If you have questions about whether or not you need a common carrier permit for authorized hire, please see the Utilities and Transportation Commission website.