Secure the appropriate licenses and permits to start your own trucking company

When you are starting your own trucking business, there are many decisions, both big and small, to make before you can haul your first load. This is the second in a six-part series covering the key financial considerations for starting your trucking business.

The licenses and permits needed to start your own trucking business fall into two categories: the first are those that are required to run a business, and the second are those required to operate a truck and haul loads. Licenses and permits are determined at the state, local, and national levels, so it is essential to check all necessary sources to ensure you are adequately covered. The fees for obtaining the required licenses and permits will vary and could add up. These are often not one-time fees. You will need to renew them at various time intervals.

Below is a list of some of the more common licenses and permits required when starting your own trucking company:

Register your business

Depending on how you operate your business and your business structure, there could be registration requirements with your state and the federal government. You can find additional information about registering your business on the US Small Business Administration’s site:

Federal Tax Identification Number, also referred to as an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

The EIN number identifies the business and is required for things such as opening a business bank account and can be needed to acquire some licenses and permits. You can find additional information about Federal Tax Identification Numbers at

A USDOT Number

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires companies that haul cargo in interstate commerce to obtain a USDOT Number for collecting and monitoring a company’s safety information for audits, compliance reviews, crash investigations, and inspections. You can find additional details on USDOT Numbers on the FMCSA site at

Operating Authority (MC number)

Your Operating Authority indicates the types of loads you haul and your business’s type of operation. You might need more than one MC number, depending on your business objectives. You can find additional information about Operating Authority on the FMCSA site at

Commercial Drivers License (CDL)

Anyone who plans to operate commercial vehicles must have a CDL. There are three classifications of CDLs depending on the type of vehicle you will be driving. To obtain a CDL, you must not only pay a fee but also pass skills and knowledge testing. Your home state’s Department of Motor Vehicles would be the best place to start for additional information on obtaining a CDL.

It is essential to do your homework and determine all the licenses and permits required to start your own trucking business. Make sure you check and double-check with all the necessary departments and agencies at the town, state, and federal levels.

Starting a trucking business and want to learn more? Check out the other articles in our 6 part series on financial considerations for starting your own trucking business.

Acquiring Equipment – Part 1

Secure the appropriate licenses and permits – Part 2

Obtaining insurance – Part 3

Partner with reputable shippers and brokers – Part 4

Secure Financing – Part 5

Research ways to save on fuel – Part 6