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How to Get DOT Certification for a Truck

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If you operate your own business and plan to use a truck for deliveries or shipping, you may need to get Department of Transportation (DOT) certification for the vehicle. In order to be approved for commercial use by the DOT, a truck must meet very specific requirements. These requirements relate to everything from the way it was manufactured to how its contents are labeled. In addition, those who plan to drive a commercial truck will need to undergo a DOT exam.

Getting DOT Certification Requirements

Tractor trailers or similar trucks that you may hope to use for business purposes must be certified by the Department of Motor Vehicles. There are a number of requirements for such vehicles, some of which are related to the manufacturing process. For instance, the manufacturer must affix a label to the truck that provides, among other things, the full corporate or individual name of the actual assembler of the vehicle, the month and year of manufacture and the gross vehicle weight rating of the truck.

DOT Numbers and Inspections

In addition, you must obtain a Department of Transportation number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration if your vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,001 pounds that engages in interstate commerce. Alternatively, if your vehicle exceeds this weight limit and is used to transport eight or more people for compensation or 15 or more without compensation, you must also obtain a DOT number. Note that some states have DOT number regulations on top of the federal ones that also must be met.

When applying for this number, you will need to provide the type of business you plan to conduct. Categories include motor carrier, broker, shipper, freight forwarder and cargo tank facility. The FMCSA is also required to note any information about hazardous material transport for the safety of the public.

All commercial motor vehicles must undergo an inspection every year. There are six levels of possible inspections, some of which look at the vehicle itself, and some of which examine the driver’s commercial license and DOT medical exam history.

DOT Exam Basics

In order to drive a commercial truck, a vehicle operator must undergo a Department of Transportation physical examination. This examination must be conducted by a licensed medical examiner who is listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration National Registry. The National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners may contain doctors, physician assistants, nurses and other medical professionals trained in conducting DOT exams.

Once you’ve taken the physical, it will be valid for up to 24 months. If you have a condition that is of concern, the medical examiner may issue you a certificate for less than two years. Doing so enables certain medical issues, such as high blood pressure, to be monitored.


Danielle Smyth is a content writer and social media marketer from upstate New York. Her company, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, services clients in a variety of industries.

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