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Looking Both Ways

Building a Foundation for Your New Trucking Business - Part 5

By John Mueller, CDS, COSS
Posted Oct 31st 2014 11:42AM


This post of Look Both Ways should assist in complying with signage requirements, some permitting requirements and most fuel/mileage/property valuation type taxes imposed on trucking companies by the federal and some state governments. In order to comply with the regulations you’ll need to understand what is required and also have the capability to accurately track certain data. This blog is not intended to provide you with legal advice or to be all encompassing. You are ultimately responsible for total compliance for your new company. This blog will surely get you headed in the right direction. What could be more boring than watching the paint dry? What is dryer than an extra dry martini? The world of trucking regulations awaits you. Read on.



There are rules governing the information required on your trucks. Imagine that! It’s not only about having your trucks “sport” your new company’s logo it’s also about “Big Brother” being able to determine who owns and operates those trucks by looking at them. It is amazing to see a truck with your own company information and logo emblazoned on the sides for the first time. This stuff may be boring and dry, but the end result the first time is cool – very cool. In fact it’s cool years later anytime you see one of your trucks on the highway.

Here’s a summary of what the rules what the rules mandate for signage. § 390.21: Marking of self-propelled CMVs and intermodal equipment. We will just address CMV’s – Commercial Motor Vehicles.


Signs or markings must display the following information:

· Legal name or a single trade name of the motor carrier operating the (self-propelled) CMV, as listed on the motor carrier identification report (Form MCS-150) and submitted in accordance with § 390.19. In other words the exact name of the operating carrier company with the authority.

· The identification number issued by FMCSA to the motor carrier preceded by the letters “USDOT.”

· If the name of any person other than the operating carrier appears on the CMV, the name of the operating carrier must be followed by the information required above, and be preceded by the words “operated by.”

· Other identifying information may be displayed on the vehicle if it is not inconsistent with the information required by this paragraph.


Size, shape, location, and color of marking.

The marking must:

· Appear on both sides of the (self-propelled) CMV;

· Be in letters that contrast sharply in color with the background on which the letters are placed;

· Be readily legible, during daylight hours, from a distance of 50 feet (15.24 meters) while the CMV is stationary; and

· Be kept and maintained in a manner that retains the legibility required of this section.

· Construction and durability. The marking may be painted on the CMV or may consist of a removable device. The device must meet the identification and legibility requirements of this section, and such marking must be maintained.

Simply stated – make sure your signs can be read by a roadside inspector or weigh station personnel from 50 feet when the truck is stopped. Make sure you keep the signage legible on the truck. Not sure, look at your truck from 50 feet – You’ll know if you are compliant.

WOW! All that just to comply with the regulations that apply to signs on the truck?




Miscellaneous permits are required by various states and the federal government in order to transport freight for hire in motor vehicles. No “one-call” office exists where you can obtain all the required permits and licenses. There are “permitting companies” that exist to compile and submit applications to the different governmental agencies to obtain permits for you. These companies usually also provide tax services to file the many tax reports required by the governmental agencies. Ultimate responsibility for compliance lies with the trucking company.


Some permits are required of all vehicles, some are not. Permit requirements can be based on GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight), number of axles, base state, if the vehicle hauls placardable quantities of hazmat, and the list goes on…. Some permits are decals which must be applied to the vehicles in certain areas. Some permits are pieces of paper which must be copied and carried in the cab of each vehicle. Some permits are maintained electronically and are not required to be carried in a permit pack. I suggest making a copy of these permits and carrying them in the trucks just in case of any difficulty with the internet at the time of an inspection. Always better to be safe than sorry. Some permits or licenses turn out to be nothing but an electronic registration that brings you a “tax form” to be filed quarterly or once a year. The government might call this a “property valuation” or “ad valorem tax” – I call it “their piece of my pie”. Some permits come from federal agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, some come from state agencies like Public Utilities Commissions or Departments of Revenue, yet others may be issued by Cities or Municipalities as is the case for some over-dimensional permits.


You are just starting your company and are totally confused. All you really want to do is haul freight between point A and point B and get paid. If only it was that easy, eh? What permits are at minimum needed to be carried in most commercial motor vehicles? Who do you contact to obtain or register for these permits? Here are just some of the basic permits requirements for most companies and the websites you can visit to register:

· ICC or FMCSA Authorities – this may include Common and Contract Authority. You can research and obtain your authority at

· Copy of Unified Carrier Registration* or UCR. Once registered, you can print this document from the Safer website at at the lower center of the page.

· A copy of the company’s IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) license. Be sure to affix the actual IFTA decals to each side of the truck (Applicable to vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more; or having three (3) axles or more, that travel interstate).

To find out more about IFTA visit Once registered with your state’s IFTA, you will be required to file quarterly tax fuel/mileage tax forms.

· A copy of the Hazardous Materials Registration credential if you are a Hazmat Authorized Carrier which transports placard able quantities of hazardous materials.

More information at

· If your vehicle if 60,000 pounds or greater GVW then it should be registered in the Carriers Vehicle Inventory List for Kentucky or KYU* Details are available at: Once registered with this agency, you will be required to file quarterly tax forms for this Weight-distance tax.

· New Jersey may stop you vehicle and request to see a copy of the Business Registration Certificate. Good idea to carry a copy should you operate in the state of New Jersey.

· If you operate vehicles having GVW greater than 26,000 pounds then you may want to purchase Weight Distance Tax* permits which will enable you to cross New Mexico without having to pay the mileage (Weight-Distance) tax out of pocket at the time you enter the state. Your company can then report the taxes due on a quarterly basis for all subject vehicles. Information from New Mexico at:

· If you operate vehicles having GVW greater than 18,001 pounds or more in New York you are subject to New York’s Highway Use Tax. You will need to carry the paper copy of the NY HUT registration for your truck with your permits and also affix a state issued decal to the front of the truck. Get the dirty details at: Again, you will be required to file quarterly tax returns for this Highway Use Tax.

· If your trucks enter the state of Oregon purchase a temporary permit to cover the Ton-Mile tax levied by Oregon prior to entering the state. This state does not collect fuel taxes and receives its tax revenue from this mileage tax. You will need to know entry point, routes, destination and exit points in the state for the temporary type permit. You may research possibilities for permanent registration should your vehicles travel Oregon on a regular basis. Visit

· You may also need a SCAC Code* for your Carrier company. Read more at

*The permits followed by an asterisk are those that are maintained electronically by state or federal agencies.


The list above is by no means all-encompassing and you are responsible to comply with all permit requirements. Research before you haul. Keep in mind that some states regulate Intra-state movements and require carriers to register as Intra-state carriers. Each of these states may have additional state permits required.

Once you receive your permits make permit packs for every vehicle and ensure the permit pack is in every vehicle your company operates. In addition to the permits listed above, include the mandatory Insurance ID card from your primary liability insurance carrier. Provide a copy of the truck owner’s insurance certificate if it is an owner operated or leased vehicle.

Place an accident reporting kit for drivers use should they be involved in an accident. Carry a disposable camera in the truck to photograph accident scenes.

Include in the permit pack a copy of the vehicle’s license plate registration. This would be an IRP registration for all vehicles exceeding 26,001 pounds or more, or that have three (3) axles or more that travel interstate. These vehicles may only travel into states listed on the IRP registration. Should you take a load to states not listed on the IRP registration, please obtain temporary Trip permits for those states. You also have the option of adding those states to your IRP registration through your IRP office should time allow.

Also include a copy of the DOT Annual Vehicle Inspection for all vehicles having GVW in excess of 10,000 pounds.

Keep a copy of the Motor Vehicle Lease Agreement between the Carrier (your company) and the truck owner in the permit book.

When you renew permits, be sure to remove the expired permit from the permit packs and replace them with the new permits. Law Enforcement Officials are not required to dig through your permits to find a current version. Encourage your drivers to remove and discard the expired permits replacing them with the new permits. Allowing drivers to have a stack of envelopes containing permits that you mailed to them in the back of their permit book is not advisable. Once an inspector comes upon an expired permit they will write a citation without opening the envelopes to search for a new, current permit. Encourage your drivers to ask the person in charge of permits at your company to review their permit packs for accuracy on a regular basis – at least once or twice a year.


Miscellaneous Taxes and Registrations

Register with Arkansas for their Property Valuation taxes which are reported on their “Annual Carrier report”. The form is required by Ark. Code Ann. 26-26-1602. Additional information can be found at

Effective January 1, 2014 Kansas replaced their property valuation tax with a commercial vehicle fee. See and for additional information.


You’ve come quite a ways since starting your business with that first foundation block. Having completed the steps contained in these past five blogs you are well on your way to a successful trucking business. It is time to cash in on some of your hard work by hauling some freight.


Disclaimer: This blog is NOT intended to give legal advice, nor be a substitute for any training required by the Regulations.


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Till the next blog, Thank you drivers for all you do!. Please be safe!


John Mueller, CDS

[email protected]