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DOT Decal Registration

Written by Nick Webster

Published on July 25, 2023, 11 a.m.


In the realm of commercial transportation, it's crucial to understand and comply with various rules and regulations. One such mandate revolves around the Department of Transportation (DOT) decal registration. How do you get a California DOT number? This article provides a thorough guide to help commercial truck drivers and carriers navigate this process effectively.

What is DOT Decal Registration?

DOT Decal Registration is a process that involves obtaining a unique USDOT number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), part of the Department of Transportation. This number is then displayed on a decal which must be affixed to the exterior of the commercial vehicle.

Why is DOT Decal Registration Necessary?

DOT Decal Registration serves multiple purposes. The decal bearing the USDOT number identifies the carrier operating the vehicle and provides a way to track and assess safety and compliance information. We’re ready to help your company with DOT and FMCSA registration right now. Therefore, it is critical to ensure public safety and adherence to federal regulations.

Who Needs to Complete DOT Decal Registration?

If a company operates commercial vehicles transporting passengers or hauling cargo in interstate commerce, it must be registered with the FMCSA and must have a USDOT number. Even some companies involved in intrastate business may need a USDOT number, depending on state regulations.

How do you obtain a USDOT Number for DOT Decal Registration?

The process of obtaining a USDOT number is straightforward. You must first visit the FMCSA's online Unified Registration System (URS). Visit & know about the FMCSA registration service. Through this system, you complete a form providing information about your business and operations. After submission, you will be issued a USDOT number, which forms the basis of your DOT decal.

How to Display Your DOT Number?

Once obtained, your USDOT number must be displayed on both sides of the commercial motor vehicle. The information should be clearly visible from 50 feet away during daylight hours. Apply For Motor Carrier Number. The USDOT number must be in a contrasting color to the background on which it is placed and should be written in English.

What are the Specifications for decal placement and design?

There are no specific mandates for the design of the decal, aside from its legibility and size to be visible from 50 feet away. Know about the USDOT number. Placement, however, is crucial. The USDOT number decal should be displayed on both sides of the commercial vehicle, typically on the door or near the rear of the vehicle.

How Often Should You Update Your USDOT Number?

The USDOT number should be updated every two years, regardless of any changes in the company's operations or status. This is known as the Biennial Update and can be completed online through the FMCSA's URS.

What Are the Consequences of Not Completing DOT Decal Registration?

Non-compliance with the DOT decal registration requirement can have serious repercussions, including substantial fines and penalties. Want to know the trucking authority? More severe or repeated non-compliance may lead to an out-of-service order, essentially grounding your fleet.

What Can Carriers Do to Ensure Compliance?

Staying compliant with DOT regulations, including decal registration, requires ongoing diligence. Regular audits, comprehensive record-keeping, training programs for drivers and management staff, and ensuring every vehicle is correctly decalled are all essential steps to ensure compliance.

Can DOT Decal Registration be Transferred?

No, USDOT numbers are not transferable from one carrier to another. If a company is purchased, the new owner must apply for a new USDOT
number. The same applies if a carrier decides to start a separate business entity. Know about MCS-150. Each business entity operating commercial motor vehicles must have its own USDOT number.

How Does a USDOT Number Relate to an MC Number?

A USDOT number is different from a Motor Carrier (MC) number. While the USDOT number relates to safety regulations and is required by all companies operating commercial vehicles, an MC number is needed by companies that transport passengers or cargo across state lines for compensation. This number grants operating authority and should also be displayed on the decal if applicable.

What are the State-Specific Requirements for DOT Decal Registration?

While DOT decal registration is a federal requirement, some states have additional regulations. Some states require all commercial motor vehicles to have a USDOT number, even operating only within that state. Other conditions may require specific placement or size for the decal. Visit and learn about FMCSA Hours of Service Suspended. Carriers must familiarize themselves with the regulations in each state they operate in.

What Role Does DOT Decal Registration Play in Safety Ratings?

The FMCSA determines safety ratings based on a carrier's safety performance. Having a DOT decal visibly displayed on a commercial vehicle ensures that any violations or incidents can be accurately tracked and reflected in the carrier's safety rating. In essence, the decal acts as a carrier's "identity tag" in safety and compliance matters.

What Information is Required for DOT Decal Registration?

When registering for a USDOT number, carriers need to provide detailed information about their business, including the legal name and any DBA names, contact information, company officer information, and details about the type of operation. They will also need to provide the number of vehicles they operate, the kind of cargo typically transported, and the areas they operate in.

Is There Any Expiration Date for the DOT Decal?

The USDOT number itself does not expire. However, the requirement for biennial updates means that carriers must update their information every two years. Know what is the MC Number? Failure to complete these updates can result in the deactivation of a USDOT number, which would then require the carrier to apply for a new one.

How to Ensure DOT Decal is Legally Compliant?

Carriers should regularly check their vehicles to ensure that decals are still clearly visible and in good condition. Any decal that is faded, peeling, or otherwise difficult to read should be replaced. In addition, carriers should keep up-to-date with any changes in federal or state regulations that might affect the requirements for their DOT decals.

How Can Technology Simplify DOT Decal Compliance?

Technology plays an increasingly vital role in maintaining DOT decal compliance. With fleet management software, carriers can manage vehicle records, schedule maintenance, and set reminders for biennial updates. Decal visibility checks can also be incorporated into regular vehicle inspection procedures, ensuring your fleet is always compliant.

How Does the USDOT Number Decal Affect Public Perception?

Beyond legal compliance and safety tracking, the USDOT number decal also affects the public perception of a carrier. A clearly visible, well-maintained DOT decal can project an image of professionalism and commitment to safety, building trust with customers and the general public.

How Can You Replace a Damaged DOT Decal?

If your DOT decal is damaged, faded, or peeling, it should be replaced immediately to maintain compliance. How do you get an Oregon Trip And Fuel Permit ? You can order a new decal from various online vendors or create one yourself, ensuring that it meets all the size, contrast, and legibility requirements.

Are There Any Exceptions to the DOT Decal Registration?

While the DOT decal registration applies to most commercial vehicles, there are exceptions. These exceptions generally depend on the type of operation, the nature of transportation, the vehicle's size, and the type of goods being transported. DOT number lookup. However, these exceptions are few and are subject to change, so it's crucial to check with the FMCSA or your state regulatory body to ensure compliance.


In conclusion, DOT decal registration is not just a mandatory requirement; it's a public commitment to safety, compliance, and professionalism. Visit & know more about Dot Authority. By diligently adhering to these regulations, commercial truck drivers and carriers not only avoid penalties but also contribute to a safer, more efficient, and more accountable industry.

Understanding the intricacies of DOT decal registration is an important step in that direction. Whether you're a new entrant to the industry or an established operator, ensuring your vehicles bear a properly registered and maintained DOT decal should always be a top priority.

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