How to Get a DOT Number and What Does It Mean for People That Are Moving

December 23, 2022Moving Tips
Julie Grace

Originally from The Golden City, Julie has explored the ins and outs of moving and has written all the tips down.

Finding a trustworthy firm to help you move across the country is essential. But how significant is verifying their legality, though? It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and can save you a lot of trouble. Learn how to get a DOT number by following some easy steps, and hire movers who wish to conduct business legally.

As a client who is using a relocation service from a professional company, you should be able to have the USDOT number in order to verify the business’s certifications and regulations. It can help you check the relocation crew and find out whether you’re dealing with fraud. Luckily, it’s quite easy to do – just get the USDOT number from the company in question and check it online.

What Is a USDOT Number?

If you want to make the relocation easier, you definitely should have professionals by your side. However, there are more than 7,000 registered companies, and choosing between enclosed auto transport or an open carrier might be a bit harder than you thought. If you verify a mover’s federal registration before employing them, you may immediately determine whether they are legitimate or not. What is that, though?

The DOT number, or federal registration, demonstrates that enterprises have complied with all regulations for conducting business legally. Customers can also use it to check information about existing safety records.


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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration‘s official website offers registration for USDOT numbers. The US Department of Transportation (USDOT or DOT) is the organization in charge of making sure that transportation in the US is safe, effective, and accessible. This could be pretty helpful, especially for people who are moving for the first time and aren’t quite familiar with the relocation industry.

In addition to ensuring that the relocation crew in question is conforming with federal laws and that its vehicles are safe to use on public highways, this is essential for running a commercial vehicle. So, when choosing a relocation company, put researching this number on your to-do list, as it can save you a lot of trouble later on.

What Is DOT Certification?

Similar to a DOT number, DOT certification is for the driver as opposed to the fleet. A DOT certification demonstrates that a driver possesses the skills and knowledge necessary to drive a motor vehicle in the US on a business basis. This has much to do with you wanting to ship cars across the country and shipping cars in the USA, in general.

Whether your business uses smaller delivery vehicles or semi-trucks, nearly all states demand that any driver engaged by a transport company has DOT certification. So, when you start organizing the move, ensure the drivers you’ve chosen have been DOT certified if they have a commercial driver’s license.

USA Auto Transport
Every serious business needs this digit

When Is the USDOT Number Needed?

You may be asking how you can determine whether a vehicle type requires a DOT number. It can be difficult to determine when they are genuinely necessary because there are several reports that some states or businesses are exempt from having them.

Make sure a cross-country relocation crew has this kind of information publicly available before hiring them to move you to a new state. If the company is legitimate, you can find this digit on their website or business card. You can get in touch with the Association directly if you have any queries or are having trouble finding the right information.

In general, a company must apply for a DOT number if it wants to perform some of the following actions:

  • Use cars that weigh more than 10,000 pounds,
  • Allow staff to operate/drive a company vehicle on an interstate level,
  • Operate as a for-hire passenger transportation (9-15 people),
  • Offer transport to over 15 passengers,
  • Move any kind of hazardous materials.

Since the FMCSA supervises the trucking industry’s regulations, entrusting your belongings to a relocation team that follows all the rules and regulations will give you a piece of mind.

Man searching something on the internet
Research all the terms and meanings behind this number before hiring a mover

How to Get a DOT Number – Check All the Requirements

Those who have never applied for a DOT number previously must do so online through the FMCSA website. The qualifications for this number are as follows:

  • Information regarding the company (name, location),
  • Identifying details (so the FMCSA can contact the applicant),
  • Details about the operation category the business is requesting,
  • Determine whether the relocation crew will be moving people or freight,
  • An actual address,
  • A company insurance policy,
  • A Form BOC-3.

The relocation crew should make sure they offer the correct address because the URS double-checks it with the USPS. Otherwise, they couldn’t submit the application. Considering all the regulations a business has to follow, the least you, as their potential customer, can do is check this number online.

After all, you’re not doing this for anyone else but yourself. This piece of mind will ensure that your first day of the move is a breeze and provide an overall stress-free relocation. So, if there is no problem with the application, the crew should immediately receive a DOT number after submitting it. However, this doesn’t mean that they can immediately begin using the DOT number. Instead, there are about 25 days until it becomes active.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a DOT Number

According to the operation classification relocation companies are requesting, they will need to pay a charge. This indicates that there is a chance of selecting and paying for the incorrect categorization and wasting money. So, making an effort to research the preferred categorization before applying is definitely the step a company needs to take to avoid this from happening.

It can be expensive to launch a new company, particularly one with a vehicle and equipment fleet. Therefore, the expenses of obtaining a DOT number should be included. The good news is that this service is actually free. There is no charge for it. However, no one can run a business with just a DOT number since you should also be given operating authorization for the particular type of activity you have decided to engage in.

However, operation classes cost $300 each. Sometimes businesses just have to register below one classification (like a tour operator that only needs to use a van to carry passengers), while other times, they might be required to register under many classifications. The cost of a DOT number for a business depends on how many classifications are required.

Woman holding money
Check how much money a relocation company needs to obtain a DOT number

Why Does USDOT Number Matter?

One of the simplest and first actions someone can take to avoid relocation scams and rogue movers is to look up a moving company’s USDOT number. If the mover is not registered, this should be a huge red flag, as interstate relocation businesses have to be registered with the federal government. That’s how the FMCSA search engine will reveal the company’s complaint history and safety data if it is registered.

Hiring movers should be done carefully if you want to avoid careless or dishonest ones. Otherwise, you can have a significant issue on your hands and make some huge relocation mistakes. Those who employ movers without confirming their USDOT Numbers or credentials face the risk of being overcharged and exploited. Also, you might not get an opportunity to hire reliable car carriers and get suitable door-to-door auto transport or terminal-to-terminal car shipping.

While movers who don’t have this number can still be legitimate, hiring them is not advised. Having a DOT shows that they are in conformity with federal laws and regulations. If you’re interested in how to get a USDOT number for a truck – it’s pretty much the same procedure. But, the more important thing to know is why using a USDOT number is a must.

Checking for fraud

You can look through the website’s comprehensive history of the business to see if there have been any unsettling investigations or reviews. On the primary page of their websites, interstate moving businesses frequently list their USDOT numbers at the bottom. You can also ask the moving firm directly for their phone number, and they ought to have no trouble providing it. Go to the FMCSA website after getting their phone number. Enter it under “USDOT” in their mover search tool, and then click “Search.”

Inspecting previous crashes

Click on “Inspections/Crashes in the US” in the top left corner of the screen or just scroll down to obtain information about crashes and inspections. The data cover the previous two years.

Checking the safety ratings

The company’s safety rating is a crucial sign that it complies with FMCSA and USDOT safety rules when conducting business. Anything less than ideal ought to raise concerns and serve as a warning that you would be better off doing business somewhere else.

Verifying insurance status

The primary cautionary signs to watch out for are the company’s insurance status. You can obtain insurance records by clicking on “Licensing & Insurance” in the top right corner of the page. Perform a search using the USDOT number, which will already show up.

We do not advise working with that company if the insurance has been revoked or is pending. Avoid a last-minute move and give yourself enough time to pick the best crew, especially when you’re relocating alone, and the whole process could be even more stressful.

How to Use the USDOT Number in Your Search for a Reliable USA Auto Transport Company

When you plan to move out of the state, no matter what the reasons are, you want to have the best possible experience. That’s when knowing how the DOT number can help you step in.

Check if the name and contact details of the relocation company match those you obtained from the mover or discovered online and that it’s still in existence (operating status should be “active” and not “out of service” or “not permitted”) and has an active Number.

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What Should You Look for When Checking This Number

Relocation efficiently with the relocation crew will require some investigation. Look for the following in the report you receive after running a USDOT number lookup:

  • The categories of activities that the company is permitted to carry out (this should be “carrier/broker”),
  • Operating status of the business (“approved for a property, HHG”),
  • The legal name, Doing Business As a name, phone number, postal address, and physical address of the business,
  • The business’s MC/MX/FF number(s), DUNS number, State Carrier ID number, and USDOT number (if applicable),
  • The number of drivers and power units (two separate numbers),
  • Operation categorization of the carrier: check for an X before “Auth. For Hire,”
  • Range of operations for the carrier: intrastate or interstate,
  • Again search for an X before “Household Goods” to see what kind of freight the company is permitted to transport,
  • It should read “None” for the Out of Service Date.

What Does the USDOT Number Tell You?

There are many things people forget when they move. Ensure your FMCSA search isn’t one of them, as it should provide a wealth of current details on the licensed interstate moving business and car shipping company, such as:

  • Details like address, phone number, and fax number,
  • What kinds of cargo is it permitted to carry,
  • The safety rating and information on insurance,
  • The number of vehicles, tractors, and trailers the company has.

As you can see, you get a ton of information if you research the relocation crew that will take care of all the needed services and other steps of the entire process.

man searching for a car shipping company
Be aware of what you'll actually get by the USDOT number

Find Legitimate Movers Without a Fuss

Once you learn how to obtain a DOT number and what it can actually provide you with – a reliable and professional relocation crew, you can proceed with organizing your move. Knowing that you have a mover who will help you with every aspect of the move surely means a successful move.

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