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U.S. DOT Regulations on Commercial Vehicle Lettering

by Linda Knutson

Lettering on commercial vehicles in the United States is regulated by the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Lettering requirements covered under Part 390 of FMCSA regulations apply to both commercial motor vehicles, or CMVs, and intermodal equipment.


A commercial motor vehicle is a self-propelled vehicle used for interstate commerce that meets one or more of the criteria outlined in Part 390.5 of FMCSA regulations. Intermodal equipment is that which can be conveyed by more than one mode of transportation, such as containers designed to be hauled on flatbed trucks or by train.

Required Information

CMV marking must include the letters "USDOT," followed by the vehicle's FMCSA-issued identification number. The name of the company listed on the vehicle's motor carrier identification report must also be displayed.


Required information must be displayed on both sides of the CMV in letters that significantly contrast with the color of the vehicle. During daylight hours, lettering must be readable from 50 ft. away when the vehicle is stopped. Lettering can be permanent or removable.


Lettering on intermodal equipment can optionally be displayed on a label or on an insert displayed in a holder mounted on the side of the equipment. On inserts, additional information such as the VIN and SCAC code must also be displayed.

About the Author

Living in Florida, Linda Knutson began writing professionally in the early 1980s. She has written advertising copy, public relations and marketing materials, technical training manuals and numerous freelance articles online. Knutson holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Keene State College.

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  • American container truck on road of my trucks series image by alma_sacra from