What Tags Are Needed for Commercial Trucks?

by Timothy Lemke

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes guidelines for registering commercial trucks carrying cargo across the United States. Knowing FMCSA requirements will save you time and money when tagging your vehicle. Individual states vary; contacting your state’s Department of Revenue will determine what requirements must be met locally in order to register your vehicle commercially.

FMCSA's Registration Role

"The FMCSA establishes standards for commercial motor vehicles, their drivers, and truck and bus companies involved in the interstate transportation of passengers and cargo, including Hazardous Materials," explains the department's website. "The Agency's responsibilities include monitoring and enforcing compliance with regulations governing both safety and commerce. Its focus on both concerns -- safety and financial responsibility -- is reflected in the dual path of its current registration process."

FMCSA Registration Process

Thirty-one states require a U.S. Department of Transportation number, which tracks a company’s safety record, as part of the registration process. Anyone seeking a USDOT number must first apply for operating authority from the FMCSA. Depending on the type of cargo you intend to transport, you may need to apply for multiple authorities. The Online Registration and Compliance Assistant website can help you determine what forms you need to complete. The transportation of radioactive material, explosives, materials toxic by inhalation and methane require applying for a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit by filing form MCS-150B. Registering your vehicle in your state requires proof that you have paid all appropriate taxes. Providing IRS Form 2290 for Heavy Truck Use, plus receipt of paid taxes/fees from the Tax Commissioners Office upon registration will satisfy this requirement in most states. Interstate transportation requires registration with the International Registration Plan department of your state’s Motor Vehicle Division. Intrastate registration only requires your vehicle being licensed and tagged in your state of business. Trucks that exceed state weight limits require obtaining a special permit from your state’s Permit Office. Newly registered vehicles are required by the FMCSA to pass The New Entrant Safety Assurance Process. Safety permits require submitting form MCS-150B, Combined Motor Carrier Identification Report and HM Permit Application.

Helpful Tips

Though the FMCSA sets the regulations for registering commercial trucks, the tagging and licensing of vehicles is a state matter. Knowing what your state’s registration requirements are before applying for a license will expedite the application process. You can determine these requirements by contacting your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

About the Author

Timothy Lemke has worked as a freelance writer since 2009 and has been published with such websites as Ask The College Guy. Lemke graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and possesses a Bachelor of Arts in European history.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera line of trucks 1 image by Aaron Kohr from Fotolia.com