USDOT Number: What You Need to Know

USDOT numbers. There’s a lot to know about them and a lot of jargon to cut through. In this article, we’re breaking it down simply so you can quickly understand what’s important about your USDOT number and whether you need one for your fleet vehicles.


What Is a USDOT Number?

Simply put, your USDOT number is a unique identifier used by the FMCSA to ensure safety compliance. These numbers are displayed on the outside of commercial vehicles.


Do I Need a USDOT Number?

The USDOT number is all-but mandatory (keep reading!) and must be displayed on both sides of your fleet’s vehicles. 


Specifically, this applies to all companies that engage in interstate commerce.


The USDOT number is also being required at the state level at an increasing rate — at the time of this publication (10/2020), 33 U.S. states require intrastate commercial vehicles to display their USDOT numbers.


Specifically, the criteria that the FMCSA asks on their website to determine whether you need a USDOT number are as follows:

  • You’re a for-hire Motor Carrier
  • You operate a vehicle with a GVWR, GCWR, GVW or GCW of 10,001 pounds or more
  • You operate a vehicle that is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • You operate a vehicle that is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers (including the driver),  and is not used to transport passengers for compensation
  • You transport hazardous materials requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C


Why Is a USDOT Number Important?

Outside of the fact that the USDOT is a mandatory requirement in most states and for all companies who engage in interstate commerce, the accountability that these numbers build works in two ways: ensuring that your fleet displays your registered number will also help protect your company from being mistaken for another which could be an important consideration when it comes to liabilities on the road. 


USDOT Numbers: Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Get a USDOT Number?

Getting set up with your USDOT requires that you go through their online setup wizard. You can do that via the FMCSA website’s Unified Registration System.


Does the USDOT Number Cover Hazardous Materials?

No, in addition to your USDOT number, you also need a Hazardous Material Safety Permit (HMSP) as an interstate carrier. 

For more details on safety permits, consult the FMCSA documentation info on Section § 385.403.

When Do I Renew My USDOT Number?

According to the MCS-150 Biennial Filing Schedule, the ending of your number determines this:

  • If the second-to-last number is even, you must file your update in every even-numbered calendar year & vice versa for odd numbers.
  • The last number of your unique USDOT identification number determines the month in which you must file your update — and updates are due by the last day of each month as such:
    • 1-January
    • 2-February
    • 3-March
    • 4-April
    • 5-May
    • 6-June
    • 7-July
    • 8-August
    • 9-September
    • 0-October

Now, you should have a much better picture of what you need to know about USDOT numbers and your fleet. When it comes to safely managing your fleet, the USDOT number is just one of many variables you need to track on an ongoing basis. To learn more about GPS tracking and ELD hardware, speak to a fleet advisor to better understand how GPS Trackit can help you.

Are you ready to learn more? Talk to a Fleet Advisor today.