If you work as a commercial driver, you should have a basic understanding of DOT numbers and what they do. The Department of Transportation (DOT) uses numbers to track different vehicles, so you may wonder if you can have multiple DOT numbers. Numbers help keep track of different vehicles, and they can play a crucial role in commercial transportation.

Can a person have 2 DOT numbers? The United States Department of Transportation assigns numbers to registered commercial vehicles. This means that if a person has two commercial vehicles, that person would have two DOT numbers.

To obtain two DOT numbers, a person does have to go through a registration process for two separate commercial vehicles. Having a DOT number allows you to operate a commercial vehicle in states where that’s a requirement. While some states don’t require a DOT number, you should still have one in case you need to travel between states.

All About the Vehicle

When it comes to assigning DOT numbers, you might think you would get one number, and that’s that. That’s actually not the case. The Department of Transportation assigns numbers to vehicles, not individuals who drive those vehicles.

If you have one commercial vehicle and only drive that one vehicle, then, of course, you would only need one DOT number. But if you drive multiple commercial vehicles, each one needs its own number so that the DOT can keep track of everything. Here’s how that whole process works.

  • A vehicle that’s intended for commercial use in multiple states must obtain a DOT number. Once assigned, the number must be displayed on the side of the truck.
  • This requirement applies to carrier vehicles that weigh over a certain amount, though that amount is unclear.
  • Vehicles carrying paying passengers must also have a DOT number. Unfortunately, the number of passengers is also unclear.
  • To get a DOT number, the vehicle must be registered before the number can be assigned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
  • The FMCSA will assign a unique number to every registered commercial vehicle that requires a DOT number.

While it’s up to the company or driver to get the number, one person can have as many DOT numbers as they do commercial vehicles. That means if a person drives two commercial vehicles, they can have two DOT numbers. If you want to learn more about the basics of assigning numbers, click here.

Do You Need a DOT Number?

A DOT number is required for a lot of commercial vehicles, but that’s not always the case. Before you go through the process of getting a number, you should figure out if you even need one. Even though numbers are free, the process can be daunting and take up a lot of time.

There are multiple instances where you would need a DOT number, but there are also some cases where it isn’t necessary. If you run a company that operates commercial vehicles that transport passengers or hauls cargo for the purpose of interstate commerce, you need a DOT number.

You also need a DOT number if you have a vehicle that you use to transport any type or amount of hazardous materials where a special permit is required, even if the transportation is in one state. Vehicles that can transport eight or more passengers (including the driver) must also have a DOT number if compensation is involved.

If a vehicle can transport 15 or more passengers (including the driver) and it’s not for compensation, you will need a DOT number. A vehicle weighing at least 10,001 pounds must also be registered and have a number. Also, even when a truck deals with trade in one state, it must have a DOT number if it ever travels out of that state for any reason.

If you want to know more about what vehicles are required to have DOT numbers, the FMCSA has a great article to check out.

Do You Need 2 DOT Numbers?

After you figure out if you need one DOT number, you can figure out if you need two. If you operate commercial vehicles under two separate businesses or entities, then you will need separate numbers. But getting a second DOT number can be difficult, depending on how you get each number that you need.

  • Make sure the two businesses are separate. If you have two companies but operate both as a sole proprietor, you may not be able to get a second number.
  • You should have a unique tax ID for each company that needs a DOT number. That way, there won’t be any overlap when you apply for the second one.
  • If you can’t get a unique tax ID, you can ask someone else to apply for the second number. That could be a business partner or a driver that you work with. Just make sure that the person is comfortable with applying with their social security number.

While DOT numbers are free, there’s no reason to have more than you need. Not only could that keep others from getting a number, but it can clog up your paperwork and office space to account for everything. Even if you can get a DOT number for every commercial vehicle you operate, that doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea.

How to Get a DOT Number:

If you decide that you need a first or second DOT number, you have to go through some steps and apply. When you apply for a DOT number, you should also consider applying for operating authority. You may also need an MC number (operating authority) if you transport passengers between states or transport federally-regulated commodities.

Consider applying for your MC number at the same time as your DOT number. That will make it easier for the FMCSA to process your application. But make sure you have $300 on hand to pay for the MC number.

Even though a DOT number is free, paying for operating authority is required. Now, let’s look at how to get yourself a DOT number.

The first thing you need to do is get online and go to the FMCSA website. This is where they house online forms for all of the numbers and registrations. You can’t use a paper form to file your initial application for a DOT number, but paper forms are an option if you ever need to make changes.

After you apply, it can take 20 to 25 business days to hear back about your application. Once you do get an approval, you will have that DOT number for life. You can click here to read more about getting a DOT number.

What Is DOT Certification?

Another thing to consider after you get your first or second DOT number is DOT certification. While you don’t need certification, it can be a good way to stand out as a driver or company. If you have DOT certification, that means the DOT recognizes you as a competent driver.

Many states require such certification to drive semi-trucks, delivery vehicles, public transportation, and other commercial vehicles. Certification involves a physical exam and a series of driving tests.

If you don’t have certification, you can’t work for many companies as a commercial driver. Even if you work for yourself, you should still consider certification before you start operating your commercial vehicle.

Final Thoughts

While it’s not impossible for one person to have two DOT numbers, it’s not usually necessary. The only time you would need two numbers is if you operate two separate commercial driving entities. Whether you choose to get one or two numbers, you do need to follow proper procedures so that you can operate your vehicle legally.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.