How Do I Look Up My USDOT Number?

How Do I Look Up My USDOT Number

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a USDOT Number is a specific number that serves as a unique identifier for certain commercial vehicles. This number is used to collect and monitor any safety information related to the vehicle, typically during inspections, crash investigations, compliance reviews, and audits. In order to maintain an active number, you must register with the Department of Transportation, complete the New Entrant Program and complete all biennial updates. If you do not have an active DOT Number when the law requires you to have one, you may be subject to penalties. (The abbreviation USDOT stands for the United States Department of Transportation.) The number is unique for each company and allows the government to track carriers on their system. All companies that transport passengers or haul cargo across state lines must be registered with the FMCSA and have a valid USDOT number in order to operate legally. The number must be displayed on every commercial vehicle the company uses for transportation purposes. Searching the DOT number of a motor carrier on the SAFER database (The FMCSA Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System) gives you access to the company’s licensing and safety information, so that you can learn more about the people you’re dealing with and make an informed decision about your move. For this reason, it is important to know the status of your USDOT Number at all times.

Who needs a USDOT Number?

Federal law requires USDOT Numbers for all companies that operate commercial vehicles that haul cargo and/or transport passengers from state to state. These numbers are also required for certain commercial carriers that haul hazardous materials intrastate. Even if you are not required to register for a USDOT Number by federal law, many states require USDOT Numbers for all commercial vehicles. If you still aren’t sure whether you need a DOT Number, you can find out using the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s interactive online tool.

Determining USDOT Number Status

If you need to check the status of your USDOT Number, you have several options. The different methods you can use include:

• Checking online: One of the quickest ways to check your DOT Number status is to visit the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records website, which is operated by the United States Department of Transportation. On this website, you can use your USDOT Number, MC/MX Number or company name to search for the status of your number.

• Via email: If you don’t want to use the online search tool, or if the tool doesn’t work properly for you, you can submit the query online via the online form located on the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records website. When you submit the form, you will receive a tracking number, and the support team will reply to your email promptly.

• Calling directly: If you want to get an answer immediately, you can check the status of your DOT Number by calling 800-832-5660, which is the FMCSA Customer Service number. After answering a few questions, you should be able to get an updated status report. If you find that your USDOT is inactive, you can take steps to reactivate it. The exact steps you will need to take will depend on the reason your DOT Number was deactivated.

How to check a DOT number

Although President Reagan’s signature phrase “Trust, but verify” is usually used in a political context, it applies to many aspects of life you need to remember it every time you’re expected to place belief in or act upon information or claims another person presents to you. Even if you’re taking their word for it, it is always important to fact check before making a decision or you may deeply regret it. This is especially true in the event of moving house you’re supposed to trust your movers with all your earthly possessions just like that, without knowing anything about them. They will say that they’re trustworthy professionals, of course, and will promise to do a good job for you, but how can you know if this is true? How to make sure you’ve found reliable and experienced moving specialists who will handle your relocation with professionalism, efficiency, and care? How to know that you’re not dealing with rogue or incompetent movers? There are some foolproof ways to make sure your movers are qualified professionals, but the most important thing to do when researching your potential moving partners is to confirm that they’re properly licensed and authorized to transport household goods and provide moving services. If you’re looking for interstate moving companies, the fastest, easiest, and surest way to verify their licensing status is to check their USDOT number. A USDOT number lookup will provide you with a lot of useful information about the movers you’re interested in their identification, type and range of operations, operating status, safety rating, etc. In order to get this information you need to: Go to the FMCSA official website; Find the “FMCSA Searches” menu (located in the middle lower section of the home page) and click the “Company Snapshot” link; Select your search criteria;
Enter the mover’s name, USDOT number, or MC/MX number and click the “Search” button. You will get access to the company’s profile in the MCMIS and will see a report with all the available data on the carrier in question.

What to look for during a USDOT number check?

Take a close look at the displayed report and pay attention to: The type of operations the company is authorized to perform – it should say CARRIER; The company’s operating status – it should say AUTHORIZED FOR HHG; The company’s identification and contact information – the carrier’s legal name, DBA name (the trade name under which the company does business), physical address, phone number, and mailing address; The company’s registration numbers – USDOT number, MC/MX/FF number(s), State Carrier ID number and/or DUNS number (as applicable); The number of power units (vehicles registered under the company’s name) and drivers the company has; The carrier’s operation classification – there should be an X before “Auth. For Hire”; The carrier’s range of operation – interstate or intrastate; The type of cargo the company is authorized to transport – there should be an X before “Household Goods”. Check if the company’s identification and contact information match the ones provided by the mover and make sure the company has an active USDOT number and is not ordered out of service. Once you’ve confirmed that the carrier is properly licensed and certified, you should focus on the company’s inspections summary and safety ratings in order to obtain greater detail on their performance and find out how reliable they are:

Inspection and crash reports – The table below the general company information shows the number of inspections made to the mover during the last two years and their results – the first row indicates the number of roadside inspections made to the vehicles and drivers; the second one shows the number of inspections which resulted in an “Out of Service” status (when out-of-service violations have been found during the inspection); the third row shows the percentage of inspections that resulted in an “Out of Service” status; the last row represents the percentage of all inspections made in the country during the year specified in the field that resulted in an “Out of Service” status. The next table shows the number of crashes reported to the FMCSA during the last 24-month period that involved vehicles operated by the moving company you’re researching;

Safety rating – The Company’s safety rating status shows its compliance with the Federal Safety Regulations – a SATISFACTORY rating means that the carrier abides by the FMC safety rules; a CONDITIONAL rating indicates that the company has been found in violation of one or more regulations; an UNSATISFACTORY rating shows significant non-compliance with the federal requirements.

Why Is a DOT Number Lookup So Important?

A USDOT number is an identifier issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (a division of the United States Department of Transportation – U.S.DOT). It is assigned to a census record in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) and allows the government to track carriers on their system. The number is unique for each company and gives quick access to its safety information (an indicator of its compliance with a number of federal regulations designed to protect the customers and improve the quality of the moving industry). All companies that transport passengers or haul cargo between states must be registered with the FMCSA and have a USDOT Number in order to operate legally.
Companies that ship intrastate may also need a USDOT number if: they transport hazardous materials in amounts that require safety permits; they have moving trucks with gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,00 pounds; they have vehicles that are used to transport more than 8 passengers for payment (or more than 15 people in case they are not transported for compensation).

The FMCSA provides information about every moving company in the form of a concise electronic record of the carrier’s identification, type of operations, inspections summary, crash information, and safety rating. To get this information you need to go to the SAFER website and enter the mover’s name or DOT number in the blank field displayed in the middle of the page (do not forget to select your search criteria first). This will give you access to the company’s profile in the MCMIS and will reveal all the available data on the movers you’re interested in.

Company Status

The USDOT number check will give you the most important information about the company: The company’s type – the type of operations in which the company is engaged (a carrier, a shipper of hazardous materials, both a carrier and a shipper, etc.);

• The company’s operating status: if it says ACTIVE or AUTHORIZED FOR {Passenger, Property, HHG}, the carrier is authorized to operate and transport the specified type of goods/passengers. If this field says OUT OF SERVICE, NOT AUTHORIZED, or INACTIVE USDOT NUMBER, the mover has no right to operate. If the company has been ordered out of service, it will be listed in the Out of Service Date field; The company’s identification and contact information – its legal name, DBA name (a trade name under which the company does business), physical address, phone number, and mailing address; The company’s ID and registration numbers – USDOT number, State Carrier ID (for intrastate moving companies), MC/MX/FF Number (issued by the FMCSA to companies that conduct interstate transportation activities), and DUNS Number (corporate registration number), if applicable;

• Power units: the number of vehicles that are registered under the name of the company;

• Drivers: the total number of drivers employed by the company;

• Operation classification: the type of motor carrier (an X in front of a category indicates that it is relevant to the company, while the absence of a character means that the type of business/activity is not applicable to the company);

• Carrier operation: the company’s range of operation (interstate, intrastate hazardous material, or intrastate non-hazardous material transportation);

• Cargo carried: the type of cargo the company is authorized to transport.

You’re strongly advised to review all this information with great care and make sure that: the company you consider hiring for your move has an active USDOT number and is not ordered out of service; the company’s identification and contact information matches the ones you have received from the movers; the company is authorized for hire (there should be an X before “ For Hire” in the Operation Classification field); the company is allowed to transport household goods (there should be an X before “Household Goods” in the Cargo Carried field); the company is authorized to operate interstate (there should be an X before “Interstate” in the Carrier Operation field), which is of primary importance if you’re moving out of state. Once you’ve confirmed that the movers are properly licensed and certified, you need to find out how reliable they are. Your dot number check will provide you with some useful information on that aspect as well.

Inspections and Crash Reports

Below the general company information, you’re going to find a table that shows the number of inspections that were made to the movers during the last two years, together with the corresponding results.

• The first row of the table indicates the number of roadside inspections made to the vehicles, drivers, and hazmat (when applicable).

• The second row shows the number of inspections which resulted in an “Out of Service” status (this means that the mover has made one (or more) out of service violations during a single inspection). If you see high numbers in this row, you may want to stay away from the company in question.

• The third row shows the percentage of inspections that resulted in an “Out of Service” status. Naturally, the lower the percentage, the better.

• The fourth row is the National Average – the percentage of all inspections made in the country that resulted in an “Out of Service” status for the year specified in the field. If the numbers in this row are smaller than the numbers in the third row, you need to raise your guard and consider a different moving company.

Safety Ratings

Last but not least when performing your USDOT number lookup, you need to turn your attention to the company’s Safety Rating status. It shows the carrier’s compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations:

• A SATISFACTORY rating means that there is no significant non-compliance with the safety requirements;

• A CONDITIONAL rating indicates that the company has been in violation of one or more safety regulations;

• An UNSATISFACTORY rating shows substantial non-compliance with the federal regulations.

A dot number check won’t be enough to ensure your successful relocation, but it will help you find reliable professionals who will do a good job with your move. It is only the first step in your research, yet it is indispensable. You need to verify the USDOT number of a moving company in order to confirm its legitimacy. Only when you’re absolutely certain that you’re dealing with properly licensed and fully qualified movers can you begin to consider hiring them for your move. Before making your final decision, however, you’re advised to dig a bit deeper: Call FMCSA for further details concerning the company’s insurance plans and practices – you want your chosen movers to be properly insured, fully bonded, and liable for damage; Find out if the company belongs to a movers’ association – if the company you consider hiring for your move holds accreditation from a well-known and highly esteemed movers’ association, such as AMSA, it is a guarantee of reliability and professionalism;
Check the company’s rating with the BBB; Find out if the company has won any awards or accolades for service; Ask for references and get recommendations from other people who have recently used the movers’ services; Read moving reviews left by previous customers of the moving company to find out if they were happy with their choice and if they had any problems with the movers. Consult a reliable, up-to-date list of the top-rated long distance moving companies in the country.

Research the company’s online profile – visit the company’s webpage and look for warning signs of moving fraud or convincing evidence of the movers’ reliability and competence; check their social media pages; join local forums to get useful feedback from people who have recently worked with the company, etc.; Call the FMCSA’s safety violation and consumer complaints hotline or research the database of reputable consumer protection sites, such as ProtectYourMove.gov, MovingScam.com, etc., to check the company’s complaint history; Examine the movers’ paperwork to make sure that it is full and clear.Checking the USDOT number of the moving company you’re interested in on the SAFER database is a great way to confirm that you have chosen a legitimate and trustworthy mover. When paired with some further research, your USDOT number lookup will help you find out everything you need to know about the moving company. Then, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about your move and ensure a safe, smooth, and simple relocation that will give you a successful head start in your new life.

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When you need legal help with the United States Department of Transportation, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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