Permit Checklist for Inter-State Truckloads

All businesses have to get permits and licenses for every aspect of their operations. Navigating through government offices takes a lot of strength and requires a lot of time. Trucking is a heavily regulated industry and before one can start his/her own business, there are a lot of licenses one needs to acquire.

Moreover, there are numerous government requirements to be met and maintained, in order to get the licenses required, to own and run a trucking business. Driving a commercial motor vehicle is a big responsibility. Truck drivers are in charge of vehicles with double or triple trailers, trucks with tanks, trucks loaded with hazardous materials, trucks loaded with livestock, and even automobiles.

The main reason behind the trucking industry being heavily regulated is that driving a commercial motor vehicle requires a higher level of experience, knowledge, skills as well as physical abilities. This is a lot different than the driving license required for driving a non-commercial vehicle.

Here is a checklist of all the permits and licenses required to start a trucking business…

1. Commercial Driver’s License

All drivers that operate heavy trucks are required to have a commercial driver’s license. This is one of the very first permits that any driver must obtain if they need to drive in the country.

Obtaining the CDL involves an extensive background check, CDL training, a written permit exam and of course, the driving test. The eligibility for a CDL is 18 years, however, a driver needs to be at least 21 years old to drive from one state to another.

Each state has different testing standards for the CDL and the local DMVs (Department of Motor Vehicles) have a CDL manual for potential drivers to learn what the state requires.

2. Federal DOT and Motor Carrier Numbers

To haul cargo in the United States, trucks and trucking companies need the Federal DOT and Motor Carrier Authority numbers. The U.S. DOT number is used to check the company’s safety records and compliance with regulations. The Motor Carrier number identifies the kind of trucking business and the goods that the company is permitted to haul. The MC number is also known as Operating Authority. Both the numbers can be acquired by registering the trucking company with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The FMCSA checks if the company has completed the Motor Carrier Identification Report (MCS-150) and Safety Certification Application. While the numbers are given after the application is filed, the request for authority still has to be reviewed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

This review includes a “mandated dispute period” in which the application is posted to the Federal Register for 10 business days. This time period is given to seek a public comment from anyone who might contest your application for authority.

3. Unified Carrier Registration

The Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) system was created to verify the active insurance coverage in each base state of the company. Each company registers with their U.S. DOT and MC numbers. More details about the UCR can be found on the home state’s Department of Transportation website.

4. International Registration Plan tag

An International Registration Plan (IRP) tag, issued by the base state, allows the truck to operate in all states as well as most of the provinces in Canada. This plate requires an annual renewal fee.

International Registration Plan

The IRP is an agreement that covers 48 US states, Canadian provinces and the District of Columbia. When the vehicle is IRP registered, the distance travelled is recorded and appropriate fees are paid for the distance travelled.


1. Operating a Government-owned vehicle

2. A recreational vehicle used for personal travel

3. Chartered bus

5. Heavy Use Tax Regulations

Trucks and truck tractors weighing 55,000 pounds or more are subjected to the federal HVUT (Heavy Vehicle Use Tax). A 2290 tax form with the IRS must be completed and filed on a yearly basis to pay taxes on the heavy trucks.

If the gross taxable weight RANGES from 55,000 to 75,000 pounds, the HVUT is $100, in addition to $22 per 1,000 pounds over 55,000 pounds. If the gross taxable weight is over 75,000-pound, the HVUT is $550 per year. 

6. International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) Decal

This agreement was established between 48 US states and a few Canadian provinces, to simplify the reporting of fuel used by trucks operating across them. The agreement was reached when there were multiple, and often contradictory regulations in each state.

IFTA allows the company to have a single fuel license and requires you to file taxes on a quarterly basis with the state where the company is based.

7. BOC 3 Form

To gain federal operating authority, trucking companies need to register an un-to-date BOC-3 form with the FMCSA. BOC stands for Blanket Of Coverage. BOC 3 designates a person or company in each state to act as a “Legal Process Agent”. Legal Process Agents are federally registered with FMCSA and help in granting BOC 3 fillings. This is done so that if a company based in New York operates in Florida and some legal issues arise while operating in Florida, the company has an attorney in Florida to receive and communicate the information.

8. Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC)

SCAC is required if a trucking company does business with United States Government agencies and with commercial shippers like automobile, petroleum, chemical industries etc. Carriers that use the Uniform Intermodal Interchange Agreement are required to maintain a valid SCAC. Moreover, many commercial shippers use SCACs in their freight bill audit and payment systems.

The SCAC is a privately controlled code to identify different transportation companies. Information about SCAC is found on the National Motor Freight Traffic Association Website.

9. Permits for the Haul

A. Oversize and Overweight Truck Permitting

Any load over 80,000 lbs or having a width of more than 8’6″ or a height greater than 13’6″ should be moved with an oversize and overweight truck permit. The only problem is that there is a lot of red tape-ism that needs to be crossed to get it. Moreover, the regulations in each state for the oversize and overweight permit is different.

Oversized Requirement

1. 13’6″ in most Eastern States

2. 14’6″ in Nebraska and Colorado

3. 14′ in most Western States

4. 15′ in Alaska

5. 13’6″ in most Canadian Provinces.

Over Length Requirements

If the combination length exceeds 65′, it is considered over the length and requires the permit.

Overweight Requirements

1. Over 80,000 pounds of gross vehicle weight

2. Over 34,000 pounds of tandem axle weight

B. Superload Trucking Permit

Superloads are those hauls that cannot be divided into smaller individual loads. They include large power-plant transformers, industrial-scale HVAC equipment, construction and mining equipment, power generators, wind turbines and other large equipment. Because of their large size, super-loads require detailed planning – including route planning, bridge survey and extensive permits.

Guidelines for Super-loads

A load becomes a super-load when:

1. Its weight exceeds 2,00,000 lbs

2. Width exceeds 16′

3. Height exceeds 16′

Requirements for Permit

1. Bridge Capacity Surveys

2. Route height capacity surveys

3. Multiple escorts and pilot cars

4. Load flagging requirements

10. Trip Permit

Moving loads outside the company’s base state with a non-IRP registration requires a trip permit for the states you are going to operate in.

Who requires the Temporary Trip Permit?

A trip permit is required if:

1. The vehicle or trailer is not registered with IRP

2. The vehicle has over 26,000 lbs in GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight)

3. It has 3 or more axles

4. The tow vehicle and trailer have a combined GVW of over 26,000 lbs.

11. Fuel Permits

If a non IFTA-registered vehicle moves a load, a fuel permit is required. Vehicles that require the fuel permit have either of the following features:

  1. They are not registered with IFTA
  2. They come with a power unit having 2 axles and a GVW of over 26,000 lbs.
  3. They come with a power unit has 3 or more axles regardless of weight
  4. They have a tow vehicle and trailer having a combined GVW of over 26,000 lbs.


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