What Is a USDOT Number?
The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) issues an identification number to commercial motor carriers involved in interstate commerce. USDOT numbers hold immense importance for moving companies and anyone looking to hire one. In this article, we’ll delve into the significance of USDOT numbers, the role of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and how to use these numbers to vet moving companies.
Overview of USDOT Numbers
Any company involved in interstate commerce that operates commercial motor vehicles to transport passengers or haul cargo must obtain a USDOT number from the FMCSA. This number serves as a unique identifier for the purposes of collecting and monitoring the company’s safety record and ensuring its compliance with federal regulations. A company involved in intrastate commerce may also need a USDOT number if it transports hazardous materials.
Interstate moving companies need USDOT numbers due to the size and weight capacity of their trucks and the fact that they operate across state lines. According to the FMCSA website, these companies need USDOT numbers if they have vehicles with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) or gross combination weight ratings (GCWR) of more than 10,000 pounds. Many states also require local moving companies to obtain a USDOT number.
What Information Does a USDOT Provide?
You can learn more about a moving company by entering its USDOT number into the FMCSA’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) system or registered mover database. Here’s an overview of what you’ll find:
ID and Operating Information
The first section of the Company Snapshot provides basic information about the company. This includes the following:
- Entity type and operating status
- Freight forwarder (FF) or motor carrier number (MC)
- Latest MCS-150 filing date and yearly mileage
- Legal and DBA name
- Number of drivers
- Phone number
- Physical and mailing address
- Type of cargo carried
- USDOT number
The registered mover database contains much of the same information, plus the company’s fleet size and fax number.
U.S. Inspection Information
The second section of the Company Snapshot shows the number of inspections the company has undergone over the last 24 months, broken down by type. Check the out-of-service numbers to see how many of those inspections uncovered a safety violation and compare the company’s performance to the national average.
U.S. Crash Information
Below all of the U.S. inspection information is a table showing how many crashes the company has experienced in the United States over the last 24 months. It’s important to note that these numbers only denote involvement—not responsibility. Every reportable crash is included in the total, regardless of whether or not the company was at fault.
Canadian Safety Information
Thanks to an agreement between the FMCSA and its Canadian counterpart, the third section of the Company Snapshot provides information regarding inspections and crashes in Canada. This section is populated with information provided by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administration (CCMTA).
The final section of the Company Snapshot includes a federal safety rating. Ratings are assigned based on either a Safety Review or a Compliance Review, two types of audits conducted by the FMCSA.
When you look up a company in the mover database, you can review its complaint history over the last four years. This information comes from the National Consumer Complaint Database (NCCDB). Complaints can be related to any of the following:
- Claim settlement
- Deceptive business practices
- Estimates/final charges
- Loss and damage
- Operating authority
- Owner-operator leasing violations
- Pickup and delivery
- Shipment documents
- Unauthorized operations
- Whistleblower complaints
If you would like to double-check that the company’s insurance is up-to-date with no pending cancellations, visit the FMCSA’s Licensing and Insurance Public database. Here, you will find an overview of its insurance information, including the amount required and the amount on file.
How To Look Up a USDOT Number
Before hiring movers for your local or long-distance move, conduct thorough research to ensure the company is reputable and legally compliant. Check online reviews, ask for recommendations, and verify its credentials—starting with its USDOT number. Here’s how:
- Find the moving company’s name and USDOT number on its website, or call to request the information.
- Visit the FMCSA website, specifically the SAFER system or mover database. Type in the company’s name or USDOT number and click “search.”
- Review the search results and select the correct company.
- Verify that the USDOT number and company name match the information provided by the moving company.
- Review the other information provided by the FMCSA.
Hiring a moving company will take up a big chunk of your moving budget, so it’s important to do your research and choose the right one. As part of your vetting process, be sure to verify the company’s USDOT number. Then review the information available on the FMCSA website, including its inspection, crash, and complaint history. By evaluating each company’s reputation and safety compliance, you can avoid potential moving scams and ensure a smooth moving process.
FAQ About USDOT Numbers
Do all moving companies have a USDOT number?
Not all moving companies have a USDOT number, nor is every moving company required to have one. However, all interstate moving companies must register with the U.S. Department of Transportation and receive a USDOT number.
Is it bad if a moving company doesn’t have a USDOT number?
It is not necessarily bad if a moving company doesn’t have a USDOT number. However, not having one is a red flag if the company offers interstate moving services or operates in a state that requires it to have a USDOT number.
Which states don’t require a USDOT number?
According to the FMCSA website, the following states do not require a USDOT number for intrastate commerce:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
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