Ensuring you are properly registered with every legal entity is vital if you are driving for a living. Whether hauling passengers or heavy cargo, you may need to get a Department of Transportation [DOT] number to operate legally. If you are in Florida and are wondering if this applies to you, we can help. We researched this matter from multiple professional sources so that you'll know for sure what you need to do.
You will need a DOT Number to operate a vehicle in the state of Florida if any of the following applies:
- You are involved in interstate commerce
- Your vehicle is transporting hazardous waste
- You are transporting between eight and 15 passengers [including the driver] for compensation
- You are transporting 16 or more passengers without pay
- Your vehicle's GVWR is 10,001 pounds or more
Now that we know when you will need a DOT Number in the state of Florida, we'll look into the process. You might also be curious about what is considered a commercial vehicle in Florida or what the difference is between interstate and intrastate. For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post to see what our research has uncovered.
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Getting a DOT Number in Florida
Florida is one of 38 states that require a DOT for commercial drivers. With minimal exceptions, you will need to have this official registration issued to you before you can conduct business. Failure to do so can result in some stiff penalties.
The process of getting a DOT Number in Florida is not a complicated one. While there are some services online that will charge you a fee for this process, it can be done for free online through the US DOT. However, the advantage of using a paid service is that they will often package your DOT with other legal licenses and permits you will need to operate legally.
The DOT number is a number unique to you. This number will help officials track your information and to ensure that you and your business are within compliance with regulatory agencies.
What is considered a commercial vehicle in Florida?
The state code in Florida defines what constitutes a commercial vehicle. For it to be regulated as such, a commercial vehicle is:
"Any vehicle which is not owned or operated by a governmental entity, which uses special fuel or motor fuel on the public highways, and which has a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more, or has three or more axles regardless of weight, or is used in combination when the weight of such combination exceeds 26,001 pounds gross vehicle weight."
This is a fairly broad definition. It covers the larger tractor-trailers you see on the highways and smaller vehicles. Buses, larger coaches, and even smaller trucks will fit in this category.
What is the difference between interstate and intrastate?
Many of us learned the difference between interstate and intrastate commerce in a high school civics classroom. But for those who might need a refresher on these sometimes-confusing terms, we can clear the waters for you.
Interstate means any activity that involves two or more states. Think of interstate highways. These roadways go across state lines. Many of them stretch across the country through a good number of states.
Intrastate means within one state. When it comes to commerce, this means that all business transactions conducted are done so without leaving the state.
How does this apply to trucking?
Some states, like Florida, have DOT regulations for intrastate commerce. A great example is for truckers under the age of 21. If they are based in Florida, they can travel intrastate but are forbidden to cross state lines with their licensure.
If you are based in Florida but are picking up a load of cargo in nearby Georgia, you are engaging in interstate commerce. If you are under 21, this will violate Florida law. This is not limited to freight, as the DOT regulates drivers for hire under certain conditions.
What do I need to register a commercial vehicle in Florida?
Before you attempt to register your commercial vehicle in Florida, you should determine if you must do so. The state has specific residency or occupational requirements that need to be met for you to have to register in Florida. Look the following over carefully and see if they apply to your situation.
When you need to register a commercial vehicle in Florida
The state of Florida will mandate registration of your commercial vehicle if you reside within the state's boundaries, but only if your vehicle[s] operate on Florida roadways. Say you live in Florida, but your business is based in Alabama. So long as your vehicles never travel in the state of Florida, you won't need to register.
If you are a non-resident of Florida, you will need to register your commercial vehicle if:
- You are employed in Florida
- Your children attend any public schools in Florida
Preparing to register your commercial vehicle in Florida
Once you have determined whether or not you need to register your vehicle in Florida, you will need to gather some documents and information. Once prepared, any Florida county tax office can complete your registration.
You must provide a registration renewal notice or any previous registration record. The tag number and the VIN will be required if it is a new vehicle instead of prior documentation.
You will also need proof of Florida property damage liability and personal injury protection insurance. This proof will need to include the insurance company's name, as well as the insurance policy number.
Remember that if you have owned the vehicle longer than six months, you will also need to show proof that you have paid your Heavy Vehicle Use Tax.
How do I register my trucking company in Florida?
If you are considering opening a trucking business in Florida, there is a process you will need to complete before you are legal to operate. Thankfully, this isn't a complicated set of tasks and can be completed within a short time frame.
Assuming you have a business plan and experience, you will first need to establish your company as a legal entity. This can be done as a sole proprietorship, but an LLC or other corporation is often recommended. This will protect you from personal liability.
When this is completed, you will need to get your CDL, secure a DOT number, a Motor Carrying Operating Authority Number, and designate an agent to process your BOC-3 filing. Finally, you will need to obtain your International Registration Plan credentials.
Once you are licensed and fully operating, you will need to keep your documents and licenses current with the DOT, the state of Florida, and other legal agencies.
Florida is one of many states requiring a DOT Number for commercial drivers. This number is the method that government agencies use to track your registration and ensure that you and your company are being compliant. Getting the DOT Number can take a bit of time, but it's a relatively simple process. Drive safe!
We hope this post on DOT numbers answered all of your questions. For additional helpful information, we recommend reading the following posts: