August 16, 2022 Posted in How-to
Gemma Collins

Gemma is an NJ local that has explored all the US states, making her the perfect person to write about moving.

Moving Efficiently 101 – How to Get DOT Number

Finding a reliable company for moving cross-country is crucial, and checking its legitimacy doesn’t take longer than a few minutes, as long as you have their registered digits. But how important is that? Here’s how to get a DOT number if movers want to operate legitimately.

A mover in a cross-country moving truck showing thumbs up overlay
Legitimate movers exist, but you must do your due diligence when choosing them

What Are USDOT Numbers?

When hiring movers, you can quickly tell if they’re legit or not by checking their federal registration. But what is that?

The DOT numbers, or federal registrations, show that companies have met all requirements for operating as legitimate businesses. It also allows customers to look up details about their safety records.

This is crucial for operating a commercial vehicle because it doesn’t only ensure that the movers in question are in compliance with federal regulations and that their vehicles are safe to operate on public roads.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT or USDOT) is an authority responsible for ensuring that transportation in the United States is safe, efficient, and accessible, and registering for USDOT digits is possible through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s official website

The question of how to check if long-distance movers are legitimate no longer becomes a problem when you have access to this data.

Why Is a USDOT Registration So Important for Moving Companies?

When hiring a cross-country moving service for moving from East Coast to West Coast and wherever else you want, it is crucial to make sure it has this sort of data available to the public.

If legitimate, this digit can be found on the company’s website or their business card. If you have any questions or can’t seem to find the correct information, you can contact the Association directly.

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What Is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a government agency within the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) that regulates the trucking industry.

It was created in response to the commercial trucking industry’s poor safety record. The agency sets and enforces regulations for the trucking industry and provides information and education to drivers, carriers, and the general public.

This gives clients better reasons to move with such businesses and trust that safety is their priority. So, how to obtain a DOT number and be a legitimately operational firm? You can learn how companies do this and use it to verify them and their intentions.

How to Get a DOT Number From the FMCSA

To register and get digits, a relocation enterprise must submit an application to the agency. That will require information about them, such as their name, address, and contact information.

The FMCSA will also need to know its safety record and how it plans to conduct business. After the application is reviewed, the agency issues them a registration.

Is the Application for a DOT Number Complicated?

This application isn’t complicated for a firm that wishes to operate legally. They must file forms with the IRS online or by mail. They need to provide their EIN, the business’s legal name, and contact information and indicate the type of vehicle used for commercial purposes, their quantity, and their total weights.

How much does it cost to get a DOT number? There’s no fee for registering, but other parts of the process might cost the movers a bit. If a company’s hourly rate is explained with legal and other costs like relocating during the holidays, don’t fall for it.

The only way legitimate movers charge clients is by assessing the household inventory list before providing a packing service.

After the correct forms are filed, the firm will receive a stamped copy as proof of payment. Here’s how the next steps work:

  • Their drivers have to keep this copy in the vehicles at all times in case they get stopped by law enforcement,
  • They will also need to display the digits on the side of the vehicle, printed in large, easy-to-read characters and at least four inches high. It must be visible from a distance of at least 50 feet,
  • If companies fail to file the correct forms or pay taxes, they may be subject to penalties. The IRS may also suspend their registration numbers, preventing them from operating commercial vehicles,
  • The registrations are valid for the calendar year and must be renewed annually by filing new forms and paying the taxes for each vehicle.
Professional cross country movers carrying a sofa overlay
DOT number is sort of a guarantee that the service will be professional

Can Movers Be Good News Without Obtaining a DOT Number?

It’s not that complicated to vet movers, so make sure you do, especially if you’re relocating to a new city alone. It’s also wise to ask for professional help if you need someone to move large items to another state or provide car shipping services.

Movers can be legitimate without this, but it is not recommended to work with them. Having this demonstrates their compliance with federal regulations, and anyone who doesn’t bother with how to get a USDOT number for a truck doesn’t care about their customer service or ways of operating.

Considering that the IRS is also a part of the process, businesses that avoid legal responsibilities can have severe consequences since not paying taxes is a criminal offense in most parts of the world.

The man in the video below is a truck safety and compliance professional, and he explains in depth who needs to register their vehicles.

When Hiring a Cross-Country Moving Company, Look For Registration Digits on Their Site

The important stuff that pops up while relocating is how to avoid injury and where to gather relocation essentials for packing. Every little thing matters when you plan something as big as a move. That’s why it’s recommended to be meticulous and patient and have plans A, B, and C in case something goes wrong.

Checking a company’s USDOT info is one of the things you should be meticulous and patient about. It can be found on the website, by contacting them directly, or by searching the FMCSA database.

If you don’t take the time and effort to do this, you might fall into a relocation scam and never see your stuff again. Preparedness is essential and should start several months before; last-minute moves out of state are fine, too, but they’re more stressful and increase the chance of you developing depression after relocating.

These Digits Aren’t Private, and Anyone Can Search Them

Did you know cross-country moving companies are essential businesses? Well, if you’re relocating with kids or a big family, that’s something you’d likely want to know. According to this data, they can value their services and customer care, which is fine, but if they act strangely and refuse to disclose their registration, that’s a sign to worry about.

While this info is technically private because it’s unique, it is accessible to the public, as required by law. The FMCSA is obligated to keep company registrations and other info such as name, address, and phone on file and publicly available.

Other Resources You Can Use to Help You Hire a Legitimate Company

Now we come to the main question: can movers apply for a DOT number and still be bad? Absolutely. This is undoubtedly one of the most asked questions, and it’s not easy to prepare for cross-country movers when you know they might still scam you or do their work poorly.

After searching the FMCSA database, you can take other steps to ensure you’re paying for reliable cross-country moving services when you plan to relocate to a new home.

For example, weed out the exemptions by asking multiple companies for quotes before choosing one. This will give you a better idea of the average cost of your move and help you weed out anyone who might try to take advantage of you. Make sure each quote is for the same services, and read the fine print before signing any contracts.

Read Online Reviews and Ask Clients of the Business for References

One way to check if a moving firm is legitimate is by asking for references. A reputable firm should be able to provide you with a list of satisfied customers that you can contact. These references can give you first-hand accounts of what it was like working with them and whether or not they would recommend them to others.

You can also check online review sites such as Yelp to see what other people have said about their experience with the mover. Be sure to read the reviews carefully, as some businesses may pay for fake positive reviews.

They Might Be Registered on the Better Business Bureau

Another way to check if a moving firm is legitimate is to look them up on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. To find them, simply enter the mover’s name or USDOT digits. The website will give you a rating as well as any complaints that have been filed against them.

Consumer Protection Sites Have Articles and Information on Moving Businesses

Long-distance moving company recommendations are available on consumer protection websites such as This site has a blog with articles about scams and a forum where people can ask questions and share their experiences.

Websites that protect consumer rights are perfect because they list any complaints and issues about the firm you’re researching – if they exist. If you apply any relocation tips on your next move, it should be researching those you want to hire to help you move.

For example, many companies try hard to respect your relocation budget and have basic and additional moving and packing services. There aren’t hidden fees or asking for payments in advance. You’ll see that these consumer protection websites list things like payments in advance and additional costs as some of a relocation firm’s first major red flags.

It will help you distinguish between good and bad behavior and how much to tip movers if they do a good job. Another thing you can look out for is if they offer a free monthly storage service and have mandatory moving insurance. These are typically legit companies.

Person working on a laptop overlay
Consumer protection websites and BBB are reliable sources on various relocation firms and their practices

Finding Legitimate Long-Distance Moving Services Isn’t So Hard

Once you’ve chosen a relocation firm, communicate your needs and expectations clearly with them. Make a list of what needs to be packed and moved, and label everything clearly. If possible, take photos of your belongings to know where you packed what and their initial condition.

You don’t have to do much to ensure a stress-free move out of state, so don’t be too lazy to do this essential due diligence. Relocation is a big deal, and securing the right firm to help make it feel less overwhelming is crucial. However, it also depends on you.

Of course, no one can know if movers initially plan to scam you, but having these tricks up your sleeve will only protect you from emotional and financial fraud.


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