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The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for a DOT Number
Mariah Barr
10 mins read

The first step in starting your own trucking company is filling out a USDOT number application. Foley is here to help you get DOT number support.

What is a DOT number?

This unique identifier is required by the government and will be used to ensure the safe and compliant operation of your business.

A USDOT number is an identification number that allows FMCSA (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) to monitor a company’s safety record and other information acquired during inspections and audits.

Who needs a DOT number?

Any company that operates interstate commercial vehicles that transport either passengers or cargo, as well as all hazardous materials carriers with cargo that requires a safety permit, need to not only be registered with the FMCSA, but they also must have a USDOT number.

If you’re involved in interstate commerce, and meet at least one of the following qualifications:

  • A gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 10,001 lbs or more 
  • If your vehicle is designed or used to carry more than eight passengers, including the driver, for compensation 
  • If your vehicle is designed or used to carry more than fifteen passengers, including the driver, regardless of compensation 
  • If your vehicle is used to transport material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous

Then, according to federal law, you are one of the many companies that needs a DOT number. 

How much does a DOT number cost?

You can get a free DOT number when you file through Foley. Our compliance consultants are here to help ensure all the required paperwork is completed and submitted correctly. We can also assist with your DOT operating authority and any other permits and registrations you need to operate legally.

What documents are needed to get a DOT number?

To fill out your DOT number application, you will need your Employer Identification Number or Social Security Number, your Dun & Bradstreet Number, and the names and titles of all of your company officers.

How long does itake to get a DOT number?

Although motor carriers used to be able to complete a DOT number application on paper, it now must be filled out online using the FMCSA’s Unified Registration website.

Carriers should be prepared – the process of filing for a USDOT number will take a few hours and can be a burdensome and confusing process for anyone unfamiliar with the process. You’ll want to make sure to take your time and get it right, as going back and fixing errors after your initial DOT number application is submitted, is a longer and more difficult process.

How to Apply for a DOT Number

Step 1: Gather Required Documents

Ensure you have the three or four documents mentioned above before you start the DOT number application process. Preparing beforehand will make it much easier to complete each step, instead of scrambling to find the right paperwork as you need it.

Step 2: Complete the FMCSA’s Unified Registration

Navigate to the FMCSA website to begin the registration process. You’ll want to start by reading the directions and then clicking the “To Get Started, Click Here” link. This will send you to a new page with information on filling out the DOT Number application form. It’s important that you take a few minutes to read it carefully.

At the bottom of the page, you’ll have the ability to continue on with the registration process. To do so, click, “To continue to the Unified Registration System, click here.”

You’ll be prompted to either log in or create a new account. If you’re creating a new account, there will be several pages of directions that you’ll want to read through before beginning the process.

Create an FMSCA User Account

Once you’ve read through all of the instructions, you’ll be sent to a screen where you can create your new FMCSA account. This account will allow you to access your application later on and track its process through the FMCSA system once it’s submitted.

As part of the registration process, you’ll be assigned an applicant ID. You’ll want to make a note of this ID and hold onto it for future reference. You’ll then be prompted to select and enter a password, as well as to enter three security questions and answers.

Please note, you’ll have 30 days from the date you create your FMCSA account to complete and submit your DOT number application. If your DOT number application isn’t submitted by this date, your account will be deleted.

Step 3: Begin the DOT Number Application 

Now that your account is created, you can begin filling out the application. In the first section, is where you’ll enter all of your company’s identifying information. This includes:

  • Your name and/or the name of your company 
  • Your business’ principal address 
  • Your Dun & Bradstreet Number (if applicable) 
  • Your company’s phone number, email address, and fax number 
  • Your Social Security Number or tax identification number

This is also where you’ll need to select your operator classification. This classification is important, as the government will want to know who you’re doing business for. For many DOT number applicants, this will be either “for hire” or “private passenger.” You may also be filling out a DOT number application to operate for a federal/state government, Indian tribe, or local mail.

Step 4: Select Your DOT Cargo Classification

What are the DOT Cargo Classifications?

Now that you’ve told the FMCSA who you’ll be working for, you need to tell them what type of cargo you’ll be hauling. It’s important to read the cargo classifications carefully and to check all of the boxes that will apply to your business. These include:

  • General freight 
  • Household goods 
  • Passengers 
  • Farm supplies 
  • Beverages

You’ll also need to declare whether you will be transporting hazardous materials. This is important, as the DOT tracks the transportation of some hazardous materials – and you’ll have certain FMCSA regulations that you’ll need to comply with.

DOT Hazard Classifications

The DOT identifies nine different hazard classes:

  • Class 1: Explosives
  • Class 2: Gases
  • Class 3: Flammable Liquid and Combustible Liquid
  • Class 4: Flammable Solid, Spontaneously Combustible, and Dangerous When Wet
  • Class 5: Oxidizer and Organic Peroxide
  • Class 6: Poison (Toxic) and Poison Inhalation Hazard
  • Class 7: Radioactive
  • Class 8: Corrosive
  • Class 9: Miscellaneous

Ensuring you, the owner-operator, and your future drivers have the right hazmat endorsements to legally transport hazardous materials is also required once you're ready to hit the road.

Step 5: Complete and Sign the Application

Once you’ve completed the DOT number application, you’ll need to certify that all of the information you’ve provided on the application is correct and then provide an authorized signature. In order to legally sign the DOT number application form, you must be either an owner or partner in the business, an authorized representative or official of the company, or hold power of attorney for the applicant.

Is there an easier way to get a DOT number?

When you get DOT number support from Foley, yes.

You can file for your USDOT number for FREE with our compliance experts. We're ready to help you get on the road as quickly as possible.

And once you're officially ready to operate, Foley can also provide you with comprehensive DOT compliance services in one user-friendly platform. You'll work with your account manager for everything from creating and managing driver files, getting compliant with the FMCSA Clearinghouse, setting up a drug and alcohol testing program, and more.

If you're ready to run your own small trucking company and get your free DOT number with Foley, click here.

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Whether you’re looking for a quick background check, or a comprehensive DOT compliance solution, Foley can help.