There are two reasons why a moving company would be required to have a USDOT number.
Any commercial vehicle transporting passengers or hauling cargo interstate (over state lines) will be required to have a USDOT number and be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Certain states (38 to be exact) require a USDOT number for intrastate (inside state borders) moves by commercial motor vehicles. The 12 states that do not requiring a USDOT number for intrastate commercial vehicles are:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
If a company fails to comply with this regulation, they will be in violation of federal law.
Under federal law, companies transporting hazardous materials that require a safety permit must register for a USDOT number for their vehicles regardless if they are crossing state borders or not.
What are USDOT numbers?
The FMCSA, or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, enforces a number of regulations to ensure road safety. One of their requirements is that moving companies register for a US Department of Transportation number. The USDOT number is a way for the government to identify a particular carrier when collecting information from audits, compliance reviews, inspections and other data sets. It's also used as an organizational tool for enforcing and monitoring safety regulations.
What are USDOT numbers for?
When applying for a USDOT number, a company will be enrolled in a program called the New Entrant Safety Assurance Program. During this 18 month education program, companies will learn all about carrier safety and hazardous material regulations. In order to get a permanent USDOT number, the carrier must maintain safe operations during the 18 months of the program and pass a safety audit. The safety audit will occur within 12 months after beginning operations.
In order to maintain their USDOT number, moving companies need to comply with all FMCSA safety regulations. This involves keeping detailed logs of all trips, attending safety training meetings, having vehicles inspected and undergoing annual log audits.
Who is required to have a USDOT number?
While not all moving companies are required to attain a USDOT number, any long-distance mover that performs interstate moves is required to have one. USDOT numbers are not federally mandated for local movers, which means that there isn't a nationwide requirement that all moving companies operate with one. However, there are 38 states that currently require all movers to be registered with a USDOT number in order to operate their business in the state.
The best way to determine if your state requires all moving companies to have a USDOT number is to contact the Department of Transportation.
How can you find a mover's USDOT number?
If you are moving a long distance, you should use a company with a USDOT number, regardless of whether or not you are crossing state lines. Choosing a company with a valid USDOT number will ensure that your belongings are in the hands of a trusted and reputable moving company that complies with all industry and safety regulations.
There are a few simple ways to see if your mover has one:
- Check the FMCSA SAFER system
- Look for the USDOT number printed on the mover's fleet
(doors of the cab and again on the rear tractor)
- See if they have it listed on their website
- Call up a representative and ask
While your moving company should be registered with the DOT in its home state, the DOT number should also be registered in any additional states they operate in. Therefore, if you are making a long distance move and will be traveling through multiple states en route to your new home, make sure that your movers are registered in your home state, the state of your destination and all states in between.