Updated Oct 12, 2022
There is so much to keep track of when it comes to moving, especially if you’re planning a cross-country move. While local moves may be completed without the help of professional movers, most cross-country moves will require the assistance of a professional moving company.
So, how can you choose a reliable and safe moving company to transport your cherished belongings?
One of the best steps you can take when vetting a moving company is looking up its USDOT number online, which can help you access a company’s safety ratings, past vehicular crashes, and much more.
A USDOT number, also known as a DOT number, is given to a moving company by the United States Department of Transportation. It’s a unique identifier that tracks commercial motor vehicle information, such as safety ratings and crashes. The government requires all commercial vehicles involved in interstate commerce to have this carrier registration.
Certain states also require USDOT numbers even if the commercial vehicle doesn’t cross state lines. Many moving company vehicles will need a USDOT number because they surpass the gross vehicle weight rating, and the law requires them to have USDOT numbers.
Overall, nearly any reputable moving company you’re working with will have a USDOT number due to the weight of its commercial vehicles, state laws, or because it uses commercial vehicles on the interstate.
Nearly 40 states require USDOT numbers for commercial vehicles, even if they don’t travel across state lines. If you live in one of these states, you’ll want to ensure that the moving company you choose has a USDOT number whether you’re moving within or out of the state.
The following states require USDOT numbers for the intrastate operation of commercial motor vehicles, such as moving company trucks:
Some moving companies may have a listed MC number, which stands for Motor Carrier Number. This is a different type of interstate operating number assigned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Not all interstate movers need MC numbers, nor do all interstate movers need to have USDOT numbers.
Moving companies that use commercial vehicles to carry cargo, such as movers, across state lines must have USDOT numbers. MC numbers are an additional requirement that some interstate movers need when operating for hire carriers that transport passengers or federally regulated cargo across state lines. For hire carriers that only move cargo usually don’t need one.
When you’re hiring a moving company, you’ll likely only deal with companies with USDOT numbers. You may occasionally come across companies with both. Both numbers are valid ways to check for fraud and crashes so that you can protect yourself and your family during the moving process.
A USDOT number is crucial because it helps protect you against fraud. It allows you to verify that a company has a clean safety record and complaint history. Most importantly, you can check that the company you’re working with is legitimate because some companies avoid having public safety records by making false USDOT numbers.
Moving company fraud doesn’t happen frequently, but it’s still good practice to take a few minutes to check out the moving company you’re hiring before you make your move.
So, how do you check to make sure a USDOT number is valid? Simply visit the FMCSA website and look up the moving company by name or enter the provided USDOT number on the company’s website.
Reputable movers will list their USDOT and MC numbers on their websites. However, if you can’t find it quickly listed on the website, you can search for the moving company by name.
The USDOT search will bring up detailed information on the company, including the company’s phone number, physical address, cargo carried, operation classification, and more.
Take a moment to check that the company’s carrier operation is listed for the type of moving you need. The choices include interstate, intrastate only (HM), and intrastate only (Non-HM). HM stands for hazardous materials, which you won’t need for residential moves, so avoid companies that are intrastate only (HM). You’ll need either an interstate or intrastate only (Non-HM) moving or trucking company.
Tips for checking for fraud with a USDOT number:
If the company you’re hiring doesn’t need a USDOT number due to your state laws, check that its state carrier ID number is licensed to be an intrastate motor carrier.
Check the moving company’s vehicle crash record by clicking on “Inspections/Crashes in the US,” which you’ll find in the top left corner of the USDOT search result screen.
Crashes are recorded numerically for the last 24 months in three different categories:
Another critical thing to check out with a moving company’s USDOT number is its safety rating, which is a compliance review of the company’s safety practices. Once you’ve found a company through its USDOT number, click the hyperlink text in the top left corner that says “Safety Rating” on the company’s search results screen.
You’ll notice three different safety permit ratings assigned by the FMCSA:
We recommend checking a company’s insurance and complaint history before hiring the company
In the main FMCSA search results, you can find a company’s insurance records by clicking on “Licensing & Insurance” in the top right corner of the search results screen. These reports are usually basic, but you should be able to do a simple cross-check to verify that the moving company has active insurance. Avoid companies with pending or revoked insurance statuses.
We also recommend checking for complaints about the company. The FMCSA doesn’t reveal much information when it comes to customer complaints. However, the Better Business Bureau is often a great resource to get a glimpse into how a company operates. You can also use Google and look up Yelp reviews. However, remember that nearly all companies will receive a few negative reviews. The important thing to note is that you want to find a company with an excellent reputation and primarily positive customer reviews.
Moving can be incredibly stressful, but choosing a safe and reputable moving company shouldn’t be. Use a USDOT number to select a moving company with a minimal crash record and clean safety rating. Verify that the company is what it says it is and has the proper licenses to operate for the kind of move you need.
This process can save you a massive headache later on and ensure that you’re working with a well-respected company that will take care of your belongings during your move.
Most moving companies need USDOT numbers. All interstate moving companies that operate commercial vehicles weighing 10,001 pounds or more will need USDOT numbers. Nearly 40 states require USDOT numbers for moving companies that engage in intrastate commerce, where the commercial vehicles remain in the state, so double-check your local laws as well.
You can do a USDOT number search by locating the moving company’s USDOT number on its website. After locating the USDOT number, use this to complete a USDOT number search on the FMCSA website. If you cannot find the USDOT number on the company’s website, you can also search by company name.
You should look for an active operating status and clean records. The FMCSA search results will give you information about the company’s operating status, licenses, crash record, and the company’s safety information and rating. Look for companies with an active status, minimal crashes, a “satisfactory” safety record, and the proper carrier operation for the type of move you’re making. If you need an out-of-state mover, look for interstate carrier operations. Otherwise, an intrastate carrier operation will suffice for in-state operations.
It’s easy to do a USDOT lookup. Simply find the USDOT number on the company’s website or search by company name on the FMCSA website to bring up information about the company’s license, operating status, safety record, and more.
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