Licenses and Permits for Starting a Trucking Business

Starting a trucking business in the United States can be a significant but fruitful investment as the need for truckers is ever-growing. However, it involves getting various Licenses and Permits to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations. 

Business Licenses

The first step in starting your truck business is to receive a general business license from your city or county. The specific requirements vary depending on your location, so you should contact local government offices or visit their website to learn about the application process and fees. Alternatively, you can review and choose a business formation service provider to help navigate these processes. 

USDOT Number

The USDOT number is a unique and crucial identification issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Interstate carriers, including those transporting passengers or goods across state lines, are generally required to obtain a USDOT number.

Some intrastate carriers may also need it depending on specific circumstances, but you must visit FMCSA’s official website to apply for a USDOT number.

Motor Carrier Authority

Motor carrier authority is required for interstate carriers to engage in for-hire transportation of passengers, household goods, or federally regulated commodities. The type of authority you need depends on your specific operations, but here are some common types and examples:

  • Interstate Property (MC Number) – For-hire carriers transporting general freight or household goods.
  • Interstate Passenger (MC Number and DOT Number)  – Carriers involved in passenger transportation
  • Broker (MC Number)  – Brokers arranging transportation services for others

To obtain motor carrier authority, you must complete the appropriate application, pay the required fees, and meet specific insurance and financial responsibility requirements. The FMCSA website provides detailed information and application instructions, but there are truck service companies that can help you smooth out your motor carrier application process.

International Registration Plan (IRP)

If you want to start a trucking business that operates vehicles that travel to different states or Canadian provinces, you must register under the International Registration Plan. The IRP streamlines registration and licensing for interstate carriers, allowing them to pay fees based on the total distance traveled in different jurisdictions. You can contact your state’s commercial vehicle registration office to learn more about IRP requirements and the application process.

International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)

If you intend to have your trucks operate across multiple states or Canadian provinces, you may also need to participate in the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). IFTA simplifies the reporting and payment of fuel taxes, allowing carriers to obtain a single fuel tax license for all participating jurisdictions.

Reach out to your state’s fuel tax authority or the IFTA office to receive more information on registration and reporting requirements.

Unified Carrier Registration (UCR)

The Unified Carrier Registration program requires motor carriers operating in interstate commerce to pay an annual fee based on the size of their fleet. These fees contribute to state enforcement efforts and safety programs.

Check with your state’s UCR agency or visit the UCR website to learn more about the registration requirements and fee structures. Understanding licensing and permitting requirements in the trucking industry can help you manage your operations and follow trucking industry regulations and requirements so that your business can flourish.