A complete guide on obtaining a USDOT number

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This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

A complete guide on obtaining a USDOT number

Setting up a moving company is a complex task that requires a lot of work before you can operate your business. A moving company, by all means, is not an easy business. It requires a lot of hard work, effort, and resilience.

Apart from setting up a business model for your freight and carrier company, you need to obtain a few licenses and permits from the Federal and local authorities. The good news for moving companies is that there is no usdot number cost. You can obtain the number for free.

This short guide provides relevant information regarding what the USDOT number is and how to obtain one.

What is the USDOT number?

A United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number is issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It is a unique number given to a freight company that operates between states and sometimes within the state. The purpose of issuing a USDOT number is to ensure that a company complies with the safety standards set up by the Department of Transportation. Apart from this, through the USDOT number, the FMCSA monitors commercial activity as well. The USDOT number aids the FMCSA in keeping track of a moving company’s activity. Since the Federal Government issues the number, moving companies need to comply with federal regulations.

The USDOT acts as a certification that a driver has earned and accredits the driver to do their job.

Some companies require a USDOT number in addition to the DOT number provided by the state. However, keep in mind that not all moving companies need a USDOT number. Make sure that you require one before you apply for it. Also, sometimes moving companies require a Motor Carrier (MC) number in addition to a USDOT number. An MC number is for companies that transport cargo between state lines. However, the USDOT number fulfills this requirement. Hence, not all interstate moving companies require an MC number.

For-hire companies, companies that transport goods and commodities on behalf of others, require an MC number. Likewise, companies that transport federally-regulated goods or transport passengers also need an MC number.

MC number is also known as Operating Authority. Obtaining an MC number is expensive as compared with applying for a USDOT number. However, an MC number requires a one-time fee, which costs $300. For details regarding fee processing and other fees, visit this link.

You can apply for an MC number alongside a USDOT number.

When do you require a USDOT number?

Under certain circumstances, your freight and moving company require a USDOT number. These are as follows:

For the transportation of hazardous and toxic chemicals and waste material.

For the transportation of cargo and goods between states.

The weight of the vehicle is more than 4,536 kilograms.

For the transportation of 8 and more passengers at a cost.

Involvement in interstate commercial activity between states within the United States.

If you are not sure about qualifying for a USDOT number, head over to the FMCSA official website and follow this link. You can also find a list of all the states that require a USDOT number.

How to obtain a USDOT number?

You can apply for the USDOT number online through the Unified Registration System. The FMCSA does not require paper applications through the mail.  

To fill the application online, provide information about the cargo, the areas of operation, and the type of the moving company (whether it is passenger-carrying, freight-carrying, or goods carrying-company). You also need to provide information about whether your company operates interstate or intrastate.

In addition to this, you need to fill out the information about the number of trucks in your fleet, their make, and model.

There is no application or processing fee associated with the USDOT number. However, the FMCSA will require you to provide credit card information only to confirm your identity.

The processing time takes between four to six weeks, within which you will get your number.

For more details regarding how to apply for a USDOT number, visit this link.


The FMCSA has facilitated moving and freight-transportation companies in applying for a USDOT or an MC number. The processes are straight-forward and ensure that applicants can apply without much hassle. Ensure that your company requires a USDOT number before applying for one, as it can save you from a lot of hassle.

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