Check DOT Number: A Simple Guide to Search for DOT Number

If you’re just starting out in the trucking industry, understanding how to obtain certifications and get your operating authority can be a bit of a puzzle.

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You may have heard of the USDOT number, but you might still be wondering, “Do I need a DOT number?” or, if you’ve already applied, “How do I check the status of my DOT number?”

If you have questions about how to get a DOT number or figuring out how to conduct a USDOT number lookup, we’ve got answers. Here’s everything you need to know about USDOT numbers, including what they are, what they do, and exactly how to get one.

What is a DOT number?

A DOT number (also sometimes called a USDOT number) is a unique, seventeen digit number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). USDOT stands for United State Department of Transportation. This number is used to identify commercial and private vehicles that operate on public roads. It used to keep track of the type of vehicle covered by the number and also to prove that registrations are current.

DOT numbers are an important part of trucking operations in the United States and are also used by brokers, shipping companies, and even consumers to make sure that the trucks and vehicles they’re hiring are legally registered and up-to-date. For carriers, applying for and maintaining a USDOT number is critical, as it keeps them eligible for trucking jobs. Anyone can check the status of a USDOT number by going through the designated channels for US DOT number lookup (which we will discuss in greater detail further in this article).

Do I need a DOT number?

Most vehicles operating commercially in the US need a USDOT number. That’s true in almost every state and it includes vehicles that transport goods from the US to places outside the country, between states within the US, or from places outside of the country into the US. But that’s not all. According to the FMCSA website, any vehicle that is “used to transport the types and quantities of hazardous materials requiring a safety permit in intrastate commerce” requires a USDOT number. Additionally, any vehicle that accepts compensation and is used to carry more than eight passengers (driver included) or a vehicle that is designed for or used to carry more than fifteen passengers (driver included), even if the vehicle is not used commercially, needs to obtain and maintain a USDOT number. And finally, any vehicle that “has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater” requires a DOT number.

Basically, if you have a truck for hire in the United States, you’ll need a USDOT number to operate legally. And while USDOT numbers are most often associated with truckers, moving companies and shuttle services also need DOT registration numbers.

How do I check my DOT number?

One of the most common searches we see on Google is “how to check status of DOT number.” Luckily it isn’t difficult if you know what to do no matter whether you’re looking for your own number or that of another company.

To look up a number or a company’s details just go to the official FMCSA website. From there locate the “FMCSA Searches” menu (you’ll find this in the middle lower section of the home page), then click the link marked “Company Snapshot.” You can do a DOT number search by entering either the company name or you can do a USDOT number lookup by entering the number and clicking “Search.” This will provide a host of information about a company or carrier.

For those who are waiting to hear back on the status of a USDOT number application, you can simply log into your FMCSA account and check the status of your application. If you need more information, you can also check the status of your USDOT number by calling the FMCSA customer service number at 800-832-5660. You’ll be asked a few questions to verify your identity and then will have access to an up-to-date USDOT number status report. If your USDOT number is inactive, you can learn more about the steps you’ll need to take to reactivate it during the call or online.

Why will companies check the status of my DOT number?

There are many reasons someone might check a USDOT number. For brokers, conducting a DOT search is a quick and easy way to make sure that a company or carrier is reliable and ready to operate legally anywhere inside the US and beyond. For consumers, performing a USDOT lookup offers reassurance that a company, such as a bus, shuttle service, or mover, is safe, reliable, and insured. Shipping companies might also check status of a DOT number before deciding to work with an owner-operator or trucking company, especially if they have never worked with that company before.

There’s another major reason that potential partners will often check DOT numbers. Unfortunately, some companies will offer a false USDOT number on their websites to seem legitimate when they are, in fact, either unlicensed to operate in the US legally or have red flags they don’t want consumers, brokers, or shippers to find out about. It’s rare, but it does happen. Possible fraud is why legitimate brokers and shippers, as well as informed consumers, will ask for a USDOT number before hiring and then verify that the number is valid. They will also often perform periodic checks to make sure the company or owner-operator is still compliant with regulations.

What information is included in a USDOT number lookup?

When someone uses the USDOT number lookup functionality on the FMCSA website, they gain access to a wide range of information about a company, carrier, or owner-operator. First, and most importantly, they can check for fraud by verifying the USDOT number listed online against official records. They can also use a company name to perform the search and see if the numbers line up. From there, they can check to make sure the phone number and address listed online match up with official records. Also, searchers can see whether the company is legally allowed to operate at-a-glance. Companies that are in good standing and safe to hire will be labeled “ACTIVE.” If a company’s USDOT number has lapsed or is otherwise in question, results will say “Inactive USDOT Number,” “OUT-OF-SERVICE,” or “NOT AUTHORIZED.”

A routine USDOT number lookup will also allow viewers to see a company or vehicle’s crash record. This information can be found by clicking on the link marked “Inspections/Crashes In US” in the upper lefthand corner of the search results screen. By clicking this link, searchers can see a state-by-state index of crashes reported to the FMCSA during the last 24 months. Crashes are broken down into three categories. The term “Fatal” indicates that at least one person was killed in the crash. The term “Injury” means that at least one person was injured but did not die. A designation of “Tow” means that there was an accident in which at least one vehicle was towed, but there were no injuries or deaths.

Using USDOT number search will also give a company or vehicle’s insurance status, informing searchers whether a company is insured and in good status, has insurance pending, or has had their insurance revoked.

The FMCSA also issues safety ratings. The three categories are Satisfactory, Conditional, and Unsatisfactory. A Satisfactory rating means that the company is in compliance with all FMCSA regulations and safety protocols. Conditional means that the company does not comply with at least one USDOT regulation and FMCSA safety requirement. Unsatisfactory indicates substantial violations of regulations and safety requirements.

How do I get a DOT number?

To apply for DOT number, first you’ll need to read through all the instructions on the FMCSA website and create an FMCSA account. Creating your FMCSA account allows you to access and complete your application within 30 days, then your account login information will allow you to track the progress of your application through the FMCSA system, including letting you know whether your USDOT number application was approved or denied.

Once you’ve created your account, you’ll be ready to fill out the application. In order to complete your application, you’ll need a few key pieces of information, including your:

  • Name and/or the name of your company
  • Business address
  • Company’s phone number, email address, and fax number
  • Social Security Number or tax identification number

After completing this information, you’ll be asked to provide information about your operator classification. You’ll be asked to determine whether your business is “for hire” or “private passenger.”

Then, you’ll need to indicate exactly what you’ll be hauling. The options for cargo classification are as follows:

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

If you indicate that you’ll be hauling hazardous materials, there are additional regulations with which you’ll need to comply, since the FMCSA tracks some hazardous materials.

What is the DOT registration cost?

Good news: getting a DOT number is free! However, obtaining trucking authority, which is also referred to as motor carrier (MC) authority or operating authority, will cost $300 (on top of the other costs you’ll need to cover to get that authority including getting insurance, hiring processing agents, and more). For carriers in the US, obtaining MC authority, which grants carriers permission to be paid for moving freight, is required for starting a trucking business.

Are there any services that can help get a DOT number?

Since DOT clearinghouse registration and MC authority are fundamental to getting started in the trucking industry, making sure your forms are accurate, up-to-date, and submitted correctly is critical. From start to finish, completing this process takes around five to seven weeks, but incomplete or inaccurate forms are sent back, which means the process starts all over again.

Luckily, for just a bit more than you’ll pay for your operating authority itself , there are plenty of reputable services, like DAT Authority, that can not only help get your trucking business up and running as quickly as possible, but can link you with industry experts for consultations every step of the way, from finding the right insurance for your business to finding the highest paying loads in your area.

What services help brokers check the status of a DOT number?

Oftentimes, brokers need more information than what is available in the FMCSA carrier lookup to make informed decisions about new partners. With the help of services like DAT CarrierWatch, brokers can access full information on all carriers’ authority and CSA scores, as well as obtain copies of their actual insurance certificates.

And for both carriers and brokers, there’s no place like the DAT Load Board to get your business on the road to success once you have your operating authority. With hundreds of thousands of loads posted daily and over 400 million loads posted each year, you can always find great opportunities to help your business with DAT.

Get your DOT number and more!

Ready to start your trucking business? The experts at DAT Authority are here to help you every step of the way, from registering for your MC and DOT numbers, to finding a BOC-3 processing agent, to finding reliable insurance. Contact us today to learn how DAT Authority can help you!

Authority: Basic

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  • Includes all federal fees
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  • BOC 3 process agents

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