Believe it or not, a trucking business can be started with as little as one truck. If you want the freedom to hit the open road and to be your own boss, start a trucking business, and you’ll be well on your way. However, because you’ll be in charge of some substantial equipment, you will need the appropriate licenses and permits. Here’s what you need to get before you get started.
Steps to Learning About Trucking Licenses and Permits
- Get a Commercial Driver’s License
- Apply for Your Federal DOT and Motor Carrier Authority Numbers
- Complete Your Unified Carrier Registration (UCR)
- Get an International Registration Plan (IRP) Tag
- Understand Heavy Use Tax Regulations
- Obtain an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) Decal
- File a BOC-3 Form
- Get A Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC)
If you will be driving your own truck, you need a CDL. A commercial driver’s license is a lot like getting a regular driver’s license: you need to take training, pass a written test, and then pass a road exam. Before you get your official commercial driver’s license, you will get a commercial driver’s permit.
A CDL is necessary for any commercial truck vehicle that weighs over 26,000 pounds and/or is towing more than 10,000 pounds. It’s also necessary for vehicles transporting 16 or more individuals, or vehicles transporting potentially hazardous materials.
There are many classes and programs available for those who want to acquire a commercial driver’s license. To get a commercial driver’s license, you also need to meet the following requirements:
- You must be at least 21 years of age.
- You need to have a valid, regular driver’s license.
- You need at least one or two years of driving experience (depending on where you live).
- You must have proof of your residency or citizenship.
- You need to pass background screening.
- You cannot have a license suspension.
You can learn more about these requirements by contacting your state licensing board. The state requirements may vary. There are also some federal requirements that you should keep in mind:
- You can only hold a CDL in a single state.
- You need separate endorsements for hazardous materials.
There are also physical and medical standards that are required to operate commercial vehicles. As commercial vehicles can be potentially dangerous to others, it’s important that drivers meet these standards.
Your Federal DOT and MCA numbers are going to be used to ensure that your company is adhering to regulations and safety standards. It’s a number that is used as an identifier for your trucking business: a unique signifier for your company. To acquire this, you will need to go through a Motor Carrier Identification Report and a Safety Certification Application. You can check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to find out more about the requirements.
As a trucking business, you will now need to hold commercial insurance. To verify that you hold this coverage, you’ll need to complete a Unified Carrier Registration. This is used to track trucking companies across the nation, making sure that they have insurance, and that this insurance meets the required insurance standards.
You need to apply for your DOT and MCA numbers before you get your Unified Character Registration.
Once you have your DOT, MCA, and UCR, you can apply for your IRP tag. Your IRP tag is a license that you get from the state, which lets you use your commercial vehicle throughout the country. You will need to get a license plate for each commercial truck being used in your trucking business, and it will need to be reapplied for on an annual basis. The IRP tag is received from the Department of Transportation; the DoT will have the relevant forms.
There are additional taxes that are assessed against particularly heavy commercial vehicles. If vehicles are 55,000 pounds in weight or more, they are going to be subject to heavy use taxes. These heavy use taxes are intended to pay for additional wear-and-tear on roads. Before you begin your commercial trucking business, you should calculate the heavy use taxes involved. Your taxes will be paid directly to the IRS with form 2290, when you pay your commercial taxes.
If you have an International Fuel Tax Agreement decal, you will be able to use a single fuel license for your trucks. This simplifies the reporting process, making it easier for you to manage your books. You will file returns quarterly with the Department of Transportation, and you can find more information about the relevant forms with the DOT. The decal will go on the trucks to indicate that you are a part of this agreement and that you are paying your taxes as needed.
If you’re going to be transporting and operating in multiple states, you will need to file a BOC-3 form for each state. A BOC-3 form registers a legal process agent in each state. This is generally a legal firm who would be operating on your behalf within that state. If you are in California but take shipments to Texas, you will need to register a BOC-3 in Texas (and every other state along the route).
BOC-3 states are filed with the FMCSA. They will need to be kept updated ot ensure that you can be contacted in the event that there’s an emergency.
Not every commercial trucking business needs a Standard Carrier Alpha Code. However, if you’re interested in transporting any of the following, you will need one:
- International loads
- Intermodal loads
- Government loads
- Government loads
- Military loads
The SCAC will be acquired through the National Motor Freight Traffic Association company. It’s used as an additional identification tag, very much like the DOT and MCA numbers.
Once you have the right licenses and permits in place, you can start operating your trucking business. In addition to the licenses and permits, you should make sure you have the right insurance in place.