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What Is a USDOT Number?

Author Icon Written by Shane Sentelle Updated 03/19/2024

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) assigns a unique identification number to commercial motor carriers involved in interstate commerce. USDOT numbers are vitally important for moving companies and anyone looking to hire one. In this article, we’ll cover the significance of USDOT numbers, the role of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and how to utilize these numbers when assessing 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 gathering and monitoring the company’s safety record and ensuring its compliance with federal regulations. A company involved in intrastate commerce may also require a USDOT number if it transports hazardous materials.

Many states require local moving companies to obtain a USDOT number. To be compliant with FMCSA regulations, moving companies with gross weight ratings (GVWR) or gross combination weight ratings (GCWR) of more than 10,000 pounds are required to have 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. The following is a brief summary of the information that can be retrieved:

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 (MC) number
  • 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

The registered mover record file 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, classified by type. You can check out the out-of-service numbers to see the percentage of those inspections that uncovered a safety violation and compare and contrast 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 sustained in the United States over the last 24 months. These numbers only pertain to involvement—not responsibility. To be compliant, it is required that all crashes are reported, 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 Company Snapshot provides information pertaining to inspections and crashes reported in Canada. This section features a substantial amount of information provided by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administration (CCMTA).

Safety Rating

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.

Complaint History

When you look up a company in the mover database, you can review its complaint history over the last four years. Based on information from the National Consumer Complaint Database (NCCDB), you’ll find that common complaints include the following:

  • Claim settlement
  • Deceptive business practices
  • Estimates/final charges
  • Hostage
  • Insurance
  • Loss and damage
  • Operating authority
  • Owner-operator leasing violations
  • Pickup and delivery
  • Shipment documents
  • Unauthorized operations
  • Weighing
  • Whistleblower complaints

Insurance Information

If you would like to verify 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. Cross-reference online reviews, ask for recommendations, and verify credentials—starting with its USDOT number. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Locate the moving company’s name and USDOT number on its website, or call to request the information.
  2. Visit the FMCSA website, specifically the SAFER system or mover database. Type in the company’s name or USDOT number and click “search.”
  3. Review the search results and select the correct company.
  4. Compare the USDOT number and company name to ensure they match the information provided by the moving company.
  5. Review the other information provided by the FMCSA.

Our Conclusion

Hiring a moving company can be a strain on your moving budget, so it’s important to do your research and choose wisely. As part of your vetting process, be sure to verify the company’s USDOT number. Then, carefully 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 help prevent potential moving scams and look ahead to a smooth moving process.

FAQ About USDOT Numbers

Do all moving companies have a USDOT number?

Not all moving companies have a USDOT number due to the fact that not every moving company is 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:

  • Arkansas
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

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