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What Is the Difference Between a DOT number and an MC Number?

The United States Department of Transportation requires that all vehicles are properly registered when operating on both public and private roads. This is especially true for commercial vehicles used for compensation and taken across state lines. 

Proper identification must be obtained through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Doing so will ensure that you can legally haul goods or transport people. 

However, knowing the difference between a DOT number and an MC number is where it can get tricky, but it is critical that you are able to differentiate between the two, both for your success and your company’s legality. Here’s what you need to know in order to ensure that you are operating properly and keeping your vehicle registered as required. 

What Is a DOT Number?

A DOT number, or USDOT number, is a number provided to you by the United States Department of Transportation. You’ll receive this number when you register your vehicle with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Your DOT number will be used as the identifier for your commercial vehicle. 

Who Needs a DOT Number?

The FMCSA has certain requirements regarding who needs to obtain a DOT number. Several of these guidelines are as follows:

  • Gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Commercial vehicles being driven on interstate routes 
  • Vehicles transporting nine or more people for compensation purposes
  • Vehicles transporting 16 or more people without compensation purposes 
  • Vehicles transporting hazardous materials

There are also varying local DOT factors that may require you to obtain a DOT number. 

How to get a DOT Number

Obtaining your DOT number is easy. Simply go to the FMCSA website to get started! 

Step 1: 

Go to the official FMCSA website.

Step 2: 

Click the Registration tab that will take you here

Step 3: 

Click the button To Get Started Click Here to go to the next page

Step 4: 

Be sure to read the warnings of fraudulent potentials and then click I Understand, Take Me To Registration to go here.

Step 5: 

Click on either New or Returning Applicant and begin your DOT number registration.

DOT Number Cost 

There is currently no filing fee with the FMCSA for registering for your USDOT number. Register with the FMCSA for your DOT number here.  

What Is an MC Number?

An MC Number, or Motor Carrier Number, is how the FMCSA identifies your operating or trucking authority. Read more about operating authority here. An MC number is not required for all commercial vehicles.

However, if you are planning to use your commercial vehicle for the transportation of goods, people, or hazardous materials, then you will need to look into registering your vehicle accordingly. 

Who Needs An MC Number?

Read the FMCSA’s general requirements below to help determine if you need an MC number in addition to your DOT number.  

Typically, the following businesses need to acquire an MC number: 

  • For-hire companies
    • Transporting goods or people for compensation
  • Interstate commerce transportation companies 
    • Transporting goods or people regardless of compensation

How to Get an MC Number

Obtaining your MC number is just as easy as getting your DOT number, but there is a $300 fee for this one. Simply go to the FMCSA website to get started! Find out more information about obtaining your MC number, or operating authority here.  

Start by going to the official FMCSA website. Make sure you have your USDOT PIN. Then, go ahead and easily apply. 

MC Number Cost: $300

There is a $300 FMCSA filing fee when you apply for Permanent Operating Authority, which is how you will obtain your MC number.

MC Number vs DOT Number

General rules to follow for differentiating who requires an MC number vs DOT number are below: 

MC Number DOT Number
Planning to haul your own property?NoYes
Planning to haul your own construction equipment? NoYes
Planning to do interstate commerce?YesYes
Planning to do intrastate commerce?No Yes
Planning to work for-hire hauling someone else’s property? YesYes
Cost$300  $0

Avoid Costly Fees With a Properly Registered Commercial Vehicle! 

Costly fees aren’t the only thing you’ll have to worry about if you aren’t sure whether or not your company requires a DOT number, an MC number, or both. We say that because the FMCSA can easily put you out of authority if you don’t have the proper registration for your commercial or other vehicle. 

With the right information regarding the FMCSA requirements, you’ll be able to avoid the possibility of being put out of authority. That way, you can continue your day-to-day operations with ease. 

The items you plan to transport and the places you need to haul those items will be able to help you decide which numbers you need. Make sure you have your company plan set up before you register your vehicles. With the proper FMCSA registration, you can keep yourself and your company covered at all times! 


How Do I Find My MC Number?

Finding your MC number is as easy as looking up your DOT number on the FMCSA website. You will go to the same “Company Snapshot” page and with your DOT number or company name, you will be able to find your MC number.

How Do I Look Up a DOT Number?

You can easily look up any registered DOT number through the FMCSA website. You can look up a “Company Snapshot”, this snapshot will give you the DOT number as well as other safety information about the company holding that DOT number.

Who Is Exempt From a DOT Number?

If you are not a motor carrier planning to transport passengers or cargo for commerce, it is likely you are not required to hold a DOT number. Freight forwarders, brokers, cargo tank facilities, and intermodal equipment providers are all entities likely required to hold a DOT number.

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