The United States moves on trucks literally and figuratively. According to the CIA Factbook, the trucking industry in the US generated over $700billion in 2017, which is more than the entire GDP of the country Columbia.
What’s more, “were the industry a nation, it would have ranked 33rd in GDP that year,” writes Steven John of Business Insider. With numbers like these, it’s safe to say that the trucking industry is a lucrative one to get into, so you shouldn’t overthink your decision and get started right away. Let’s get rolling!
Furthermore, you’ll have no trouble finding employees once you start a trucking business and it’s up and running. Stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that out of 129 million full-time jobs in the US in 2018, around 7.4million were in the trucking industry. That means that a whopping 5.8% of American full-time workers had a job in the trucking business.
And the demand for truckers is not going down any time soon. According to Rachel Premark at Business Insider, grocery stores would run out of food and supplies “in just 3 days if long-haul truckers stopped working.” What’s more, the clean water supply would dwindle and hospitals would have a hard time getting medical equipment on time. The trucking industry is America’s backbone.
So how can you go about getting your slice of the trucking industry profits? Read on below.
- Starting a Trucking Business Checklist – License and Permit Information
- #1 Get a Truck
- #2 Get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
- #3 Apply for a U.S. DOT Number
- #4 Complete the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Process
- #5 Obtain an International Registration Plan (IRP) Tag
- #6 Familiarize Yourself With the Heavy Highway Vehicle Tax
- #7 Acquire an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)
- #8 File a BOC-3 Form
- #9 Obtain a Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC)
Starting a Trucking Business Checklist – License and Permit Information
#1 Get a Truck
It’ll be impossible to own a trucking business unless you own a truck. Easy as it sounds, however, it’s not as simple as going out and purchasing a truck. You need to make sure you buy a vehicle that will suit your purposes and won’t break down when you need it to run. Here is a list of things to keep in mind from Jeff Charles at Small Business Trends:
- Look in multiple places when you’re choosing which truck to purchase. Always compare prices so you don’t overspend on your first ever purchase. As a small business owner, you won’t have much cash to throw around.
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate with the seller. Most sellers are willing to haggle a little bit because everyone wants to find the best price. Don’t be ashamed of getting a good bargain!
- Make sure you get a mechanic to take a look at the truck before you purchase it. There could be many minor faults that could impact you in a major way later on so get them sorted out in the beginning. Don’t shell out for a faulty vehicle.
- Understand your budget and don’t be afraid to ask the seller for a payment plan. You might not be able to pay the full amount right away.
#2 Get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
As the owner-operator of a trucking business, you will need to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for yourself, if you’re driving, and your truck drivers too. Additionally, “your trucks must have certificates that show that they can ply highways too,” according to Profitable Venture. Obtaining a CDL isn’t too difficult and it’s a requirement in America and Canadian states to have this before operating commercial vehicles.
Anyone who is driving will need to have a “clean driving record and pass drug screenings.” Of course, this is to ensure quality and safety standards. You can apply for the CDL through your local DMV once you understand the specific guidelines and rules that come with driving a big rig.
#3 Apply for a U.S. DOT Number
If your company operates commercial vehicles that transport people or haul cargo across multiple states, you will need to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). According to the FMCSA, your USDOT number is a “unique identifier” that is used for auditing, investigations, inspections and “compliance reviews.” You will need to comply with Federal regulations and getting this identifier is the first step.
Once you get the number, you will get a permanent permit. You should keep the original copy at your office, but paint or stencil the number onto your truck as well. This will help the authorities identify your rig and keep you out of trouble.
#4 Complete the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Process
According to the Department of Transport (DOT), “if you operate a truck or bus in interstate or international commerce, the federal Unified Carrier Registration Agreement (UCR) applies to your business. This system was established to ensure active insurance coverage in all the states where a driver operates. You can register for this with your dot number and mc number. If you need more information, check out the local DMV in your state!
#5 Obtain an International Registration Plan (IRP) Tag
According to the DMV, you need an IRP license plate if you want to operate your vehicle in more than one state and in Canadian provinces. When you register your vehicle, you will get a cab card and one tag for your rig. These are normally the only things you need to operate both within the state and across other states. There is an annual fee for this tag but it varies from state to state.
#6 Familiarize Yourself With the Heavy Highway Vehicle Tax
If you start a trucking company and operate vehicles that weigh over 55,000 pounds, you will be subject to the Heavy Highway Vehicle Tax, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’s important to comply with these taxes and in order to do so, you must fill in and file the 2290 tax form on an annual basis.
#7 Acquire an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)
According to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, the purpose of the IFTA is to “maintain the concept of a single fuel tax license for all of your qualified motor vehicles” in IFTA jurisdictions. This means you only have to file a single tax return per quarter when you report your fuel usage and mileage. You can register for this online and once you pay the required fees, you will be good to go!
#8 File a BOC-3 Form
If you want to obtain operating authority across states in the US, you will need to register a BOC-3 form with the FMCSA. According to the FMCSA, “only a process agent” can file the form on their client’s behalf. This is a person in each state who will act as a legal agent to take care of any and all legal complaints and issues. Find more information about this form by visiting the FMCSA website.
#9 Obtain a Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC)
Lastly, if you want to transport good internationally or intermodally, you need a Standard Carrier Alpha Code. According to Nicky LaMarco at Biz Fluent, the code system is “efficient” and “the majority of businesses will not work with transport carriers if they do not have a SCAC.” This code basically identifies transport carriers to authorities in the industry and creates a system of trust for all stakeholders. You can apply for the SCAC through the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA).
Check out my guide on how to start your business right with tons of useful tips I learned by successfully starting, building, and selling multiple companies.