USDOT Number Check: A Guide to Verifying Carrier Credentials

June 20, 2023Moving Tips
Kate Holland

A true grunge and rock music fan born in Seattle, Kate has moved across the country and started writing about her experience.

Navigating the world of commercial transportation services can often seem like a complex task, especially when it comes to ensuring the reliability and credibility of carriers. That’s where a critical identifier, the USDOT Number check, comes into play.

By conducting a USDOT number lookup, individuals and organizations can obtain vital information about a carrier’s safety records, inspections, compliance reviews, and other relevant data. This verification process, facilitated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), helps to promote transportation safety and assists in making informed decisions when engaging with carriers for the transportation of goods or passengers.

What is a USDOT Number?

A USDOT Number (US Department of Transportation number) is a unique identifier for entities that conduct commercial transportation activities in the United States. It is issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a part of the Department of Transportation.

The USDOT number is required for commercial vehicles that operate interstate (across state lines) and for vehicles that transport hazardous materials. It is used for tracking safety information during inspections, crash investigations, compliance reviews, and audits.



What is the Purpose of USDOT Numbers in the Moving Industry?

In the moving industry, where a car shipping company operates, a USDOT Number serves several important functions:

  • As with other commercial vehicles, the USDOT Number allows federal and state agencies to track the safety performance of a moving and auto transport company. This can include the company’s compliance with regulations on vehicle maintenance, driver hours of service, controlled substances and alcohol use testing, and more.
  • Before you choose a moving company, you should know that they are required by law to have a USDOT Number if they operate commercial vehicles interstate (across state lines), transport certain types of cargo (like shipping cars in the USA), or meet certain other criteria. This requirement ensures that such companies are subject to the necessary oversight and regulation.
  • For consumers, the USDOT Number provides a way to verify a moving company’s legitimacy and to check its safety record. This is especially important in an industry that has seen issues with fraud and scam operations. Consumers can look up the USDOT Number of a moving company through the FMCSA’s website to access information about the company’s safety performance, insurance status, and other important details.
  • In case of accidents, complaints, or audits, the USDOT number enables the federal or state authorities to track down the company’s records and perform comprehensive reviews of their operations.

Overall, the USDOT Number is a crucial part of maintaining the safety and integrity of the moving industry. So when you’re choosing between door-to-door auto transport or whether terminal-to-terminal car shipping is a better option, make sure you double-check the company’s credentials – it’s one of the most important tips to keep in mind.

An enclosed auto transport trailer driving cars across the country
Carriers that transport goods from one state to another should all have a DOT number

Why Verify Carrier Credentials?

Transportation carriers are essential moving service providers in our everyday life. They transport everything from food to the belongings of people moving to a new home. Verifying carrier credentials is crucial for several reasons, ranging from ensuring safety and compliance to protecting against car shipping scams. This process can also provide peace of mind for shippers and consumers.

Ensuring Safety and Compliance

Transportation carriers are subject to many safety and compliance regulations to protect public safety. These can include regulations on vehicle maintenance, driver qualifications and work hours, and hazardous materials handling. By verifying whether they got a DOT Number, shippers and consumers can check that the carrier is properly registered and has a satisfactory safety record. This helps to ensure that the carrier is operating safely and in compliance with all relevant regulations.

Protecting Against Fraudulent Operators

Unfortunately, the transportation industry, like many others, can be targeted by fraudulent operators. These may be individuals or companies who misrepresent their services, overcharge customers, or even steal cargo. Verifying carrier credentials helps to protect against such operators. A legitimate carrier will have a valid USDOT Number and other necessary credentials.

Peace of Mind for Shippers and Consumers

Finally, verifying carrier credentials can provide peace of mind for shippers and consumers. Knowing that a carrier has the necessary credentials and a good safety record can alleviate concerns about the safe and timely delivery of goods. In the event of any issues, having the carrier’s verified contact information can also make it easier to resolve these. For these reasons, verifying carrier credentials is an essential step in the transportation process.

How to Perform a USDOT Number Check

USDOT Numbers serve as a unique identifier for transportation entities. Performing a check or lookup of a USDOT Number is an essential step to ensure that you’re dealing with a reputable and compliant carrier. Here’s how to check DOT Number.

Online Verification Tools

Today, the most efficient way to check DOT Numbers is not through asking questions but rather through online tools. There are a couple of key resources you can use:

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) operates the SAFER System, where you can conduct a Company Snapshot search using a USDOT Number. This provides comprehensive information about the carrier’s safety record, licensing, and insurance details.
  • You may also perform a USDOT Number check through various state and federal transportation authority websites. These sites often have search functions that allow you to verify carrier credentials.

Be sure to use reputable government websites to get accurate and up-to-date information.

Steps for Conducting a USDOT Number Check

Verifying a USDOT Number before you move to a big city is relatively straightforward. Navigate to the SAFER System or relevant transportation authority website, and then look for a search function where you can enter the USDOT Number. Input it into the search field, but be sure to enter the number accurately to get the correct information.

After entering the number, the website will display information about the carrier. This can include the carrier’s name, address, operating status, and more. Review this information to verify that it matches the carrier you are checking.

Most importantly, check the carrier’s safety record and compliance with regulations. The Company Snapshot in the SAFER System, for instance, includes details about safety ratings, crash information, and inspections. Any serious safety or compliance issues could be a red flag.

man searching for a car shipping company
Use the internet to your advantage, and check a company through various tools

How to Interpret USDOT Number Check Results

Once you’ve conducted a USDOT number check, it’s important to know how to interpret the results. Understanding the meaning of various statuses, ratings, and violations can help you make informed decisions when selecting a carrier.

Active vs. Inactive Status

The carrier’s status will be listed as either “active” or “inactive”. An active status means the carrier is authorized to operate. If the status is inactive, the carrier may not be authorized to operate due to reasons such as failure to comply with safety regulations, lack of required insurance, or other issues. It’s generally best to avoid using carriers with inactive status.

Safety Ratings and Compliance History

The USDOT number check results will also include safety ratings and the carrier’s compliance history. Safety ratings range from “satisfactory” to “conditional” to “unsatisfactory”. A satisfactory rating indicates the carrier meets safety standards, while a conditional rating suggests some compliance concerns.

An unsatisfactory rating means the carrier does not meet safety compliance standards. You can also view the carrier’s compliance history, which includes records of inspections and violations. Frequent violations or failed inspections may suggest potential safety concerns.

Out-of-Service Orders and Violations

An out-of-service order is issued when a carrier or driver is found to be in such violation of safety regulations that it would be unsafe for them to continue operating. If a carrier has an out-of-service order, they are not allowed to operate until the order is lifted.

Out-of-service violations can be due to a variety of issues, including equipment problems, driver issues (such as hours-of-service violations), or other serious safety concerns. A carrier with recent out-of-service orders or a high number of out-of-service violations may not be a safe or reliable choice.

Girl speaking on the phone while browsing the internet
Knowing to read the data is equally important as finding it

Are There Some Additional Ways to Verify Carrier Credentials

Beyond checking the USDOT number, there are other ways to verify the legitimacy and quality of a carrier. These additional steps can provide further assurance that you are working with a reputable and reliable service provider.

Check Licensing and Insurance

Licensing and insurance are critical components of carrier credentials. Ensure that the carrier holds all necessary state and federal licenses for the services they provide. For interstate carriers, this will typically include a Motor Carrier (MC) Number in addition to the USDOT Number. Insurance is also crucial as it protects you in case of damage or loss. Carriers should have adequate liability and cargo insurance.

Read Customer Reviews and Ratings

Online reviews and ratings can provide insights into a carrier’s reliability, professionalism, and service quality. Websites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Yelp, and Google Reviews can be useful sources of customer feedback. Look for patterns in reviews; isolated incidents may not reflect the typical customer experience, but consistent reports of issues like delays, damaged items, or poor customer service are red flags.

Seek Recommendations and Referrals

Personal recommendations can be a reliable way to find a good carrier. If you know others who have used similar services, ask them about their experiences. You can also ask the carrier for references from previous customers. Reputable carriers will generally be happy to provide these.

What are some Red Flags to Watch Out For

When verifying carrier credentials, there are certain red flags that could indicate potential problems. Being aware of these warning signs can help you avoid problematic carriers and ensure a smoother, safer transportation process.

Invalid or Suspicious USDOT Numbers

An invalid or suspicious USDOT number can be a major red flag. If the number doesn’t exist in the FMCSA database or the details associated with the number don’t match the carrier’s information, this could indicate a scam or an unregistered operator. It’s important to always verify the USDOT number of a carrier before agreeing to use their services.

Poor Safety Ratings or Compliance History

Poor safety ratings or a history of non-compliance with safety regulations can also raise concerns. The USDOT number check results provide a snapshot of the carrier’s safety performance, including safety ratings, inspection results, and crash records. A history of safety violations, out-of-service orders, or an “unsatisfactory” safety rating can indicate a carrier that doesn’t prioritize safety.

Lack of Licensing or Insurance

A carrier that lacks the appropriate licensing or insurance is a significant red flag. For interstate carriers, in addition to a USDOT number, a Motor Carrier (MC) number is usually required. A lack of necessary licenses can indicate non-compliance with regulatory requirements. Similarly, inadequate insurance coverage could leave you vulnerable in the event of an accident or damage to your goods. Always verify a carrier’s licensing and insurance status.

a man with a mask
Watch out, because the industry is full of fraud

What are the Benefits of Conducting a USDOT Number Check

Conducting a check can provide several key benefits, particularly in terms of safety, risk mitigation, and relocation stress. By verifying carrier credentials, you can ensure that you are entrusting your goods to a reliable and compliant operator. So no matter whether their services are cheap or they only transport luxury cars for a higher price, a thorough check should be in order.

Ensuring Safe and Reliable Transportation

One of the main benefits of conducting a check is to ensure the safety and reliability of your transportation services. By reviewing everything, you can assess their commitment to safety and their track record of reliable service. This can help to minimize the risk of accidents, delays, or other issues during transportation.

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Mitigating Risks and Avoiding Fraudulent Operators

Checks also play a critical role in risk mitigation. In an industry that can, unfortunately, be prone to scams and fraudulent operators, verifying a carrier’s legitimacy can help to confirm its legitimacy and avoid potential fraud. It also allows you to check for any serious compliance issues or out-of-service orders that could pose risks.

Peace of Mind for Shippers and Consumers

Finally, conducting a USDOT number check can provide peace of mind. Knowing that your carrier is registered, compliant, and has a good safety record can alleviate concerns and give you confidence in their shipping service to another state. If any issues do arise, having the carrier’s verified contact information can make it easier to resolve them.

Two men shaking hands
Ensure the company you're doing business with is legit, so it can safely transport your belongings

Hire a Trustworthy Company and Relocate Without a Fuss

When it comes to relocating your vehicle without any hassle, it’s crucial to hire a trustworthy company that prioritizes your needs. By selecting a reputable auto transport service, you can ensure a seamless and stress-free relocation experience. One such reliable option is USA Auto Transport, renowned for its commitment to customer satisfaction and safe transportation.

Don’t let the complexities of shipping your vehicle overwhelm you – take the first step today and entrust your relocation to a reliable partner – it’s the best advice you can get. Contact USA Auto Transport now and enjoy a hassle-free journey to your new destination.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Can I Find a Carrier’s USDOT Number?

To find a carrier’s USDOT number, you can visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website and use their Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System. The SAFER system allows you to search for a carrier’s USDOT number by name, location, or other criteria.

Is a USDOT Number Check Necessary for All Types of Transportation Services?

A check may not be necessary for all types of transportation services. However, it is generally recommended to conduct a check for carriers and brokers who are involved in the transportation of commercial goods or passengers.

Can I Perform a USDOT Number Check on Brokers and Freight Forwarders?

Yes, you can perform a check on brokers and freight forwarders as well. The FMCSA maintains a separate database for broker and freight forwarder licensing and registration information.

What Information Is Typically Included in the Results of a USDOT Number Check?

The results typically include information such as the carrier’s safety record, insurance information, and any reported safety violations or accidents.

Are There Any Fees Associated With Conducting a USDOT Number Check?

There are no fees associated with conducting a check on the FMCSA website. However, there may be fees associated with using third-party services that offer additional information or analysis.

Can I Trust a Carrier Solely Based on a Positive USDOT Number Check?

While a positive check may provide some level of assurance, it should not be the sole factor in determining whether a carrier is reliable and trustworthy.

What Should I Do if a Carrier’s USDOT Number Check Raises Concerns?

If a USDOT number check raises concerns, it’s important to investigate further and gather additional information about the carrier’s safety record and reputation.

How Often Should I Perform a USDOT Number Check for My Preferred Carriers?

The frequency at which you perform a check will depend on your individual needs and preferences. It may be helpful to perform regular checks on carriers you frequently use, as well as new carriers you are considering working with.

Are There Any Alternative Methods to Verify Carrier Credentials?

Yes, there are alternative methods to verify carrier credentials, such as contacting industry associations or conducting online research to gather additional information about the carrier’s reputation and safety record.

Is a USDOT Number Check Required for Personal or Non-commercial Moves?

A check may not be required for personal or non-commercial relocations. However, it is still important to verify the credentials and reputation of any carrier you choose to work with to ensure a safe and successful move.

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