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How to Check a USDOT Number: Why Is a DOT Number Lookup So Important?

How to check a usdot number and why is it important?

A successful move. That’s what every single shipper of household items wishes for and strives to achieve when organizing an imminent relocation. But what exactly makes a move successful?

Make everything possible to organize a safe and trouble-free move.

If you need to move house, plan it so that you make the most out of your relocation adventure.

A successful move is a safe move – a relocation without any risks to your household goods, family finances, and personal health (or sanity). This is no easy feat to accomplish on your own but you can successfully avoid all the risks by hiring experienced and trustworthy movers to do the job for you.

A successful move is a smooth move – a trouble-free relocation where everything goes according to plan and no accidents, unpleasant surprises, or unexpected changes in circumstances occur to ruin your moving experience. Once again, this is best achieved with the help of properly licensed, fully insured, and highly competent movers.

A successful move is a simple move – a relocation that requires as little time and effort on your part as possible. To ensure such a relaxed moving scenario you need professional moving assistance – the experts will take care of every aspect of the arduous moving process and will relieve you of responsibilities and stress.

It seems, then, that the success of your move depends greatly on the skills, professionalism, and trustworthiness of your chosen movers (unless you have decided on a DIY move, of course, which presents a whole different set of challenges). So, to ensure a successful move, you need to find a good, reliable moving company.

There are many important factors to consider and things to research when choosing the best movers for you, but your first step should be to make sure that you’re dealing with legitimate professionals. If you’re moving interstate, this means that you need to confirm whether or not a moving company has a valid USDOT number.

What Is a USDOT Number?

A USDOT number is an identifier issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (a division of the United States Department of Transportation – U.S.DOT). It is assigned to a census record in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) and allows the government to track carriers on their system. The number is unique for each company and gives quick access to its safety information (an indicator of its compliance with a number of federal regulations designed to protect the customers and improve the quality of the moving industry).

All companies that transport passengers or haul cargo between states must be registered with the FMCSA and have a USDOT Number in order to operate legally.

Companies that ship intrastate may also need a USDOT number if:

  • they transport hazardous materials in amounts that require safety permits;
  • they have moving trucks with gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,00 pounds;
  • they have vehicles that are used to transport more than 8 passengers for payment (or more than 15 people in case they are not transported for compensation).

Some states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming) require a USDOT number for all registrants of commercial motor vehicles, regardless of their type or range of operation.

A USDOT number is a guarantee of the legitimacy of a moving company.

All interstate moving companies in the US must be registered with the Department of Transportation in order to operate legally.

The number must be displayed on every commercial vehicle the company operates.

How to Check a DOT Number

The FMCSA provides information about every moving company in the form of a concise electronic record of the carrier’s identification, type of operations, inspections summary, crash information, and safety rating. To get this information you need to go to the SAFER website and enter the mover’s name or DOT number in the blank field displayed in the middle of the page (do not forget to select your search criteria first). This will give you access to the company’s profile in the MCMIS and will reveal all the available data on the movers you’re interested in.

Company Status

The USDOT number check will give you the most important information about the company:

  • The company’s type – the type of operations in which the company is engaged (a carrier, a shipper of hazardous materials, both a carrier and a shipper, etc.);
  • The company’s operating status – if it says ACTIVE or AUTHORIZED FOR {Passenger, Property, HHG}, the carrier is authorized to operate and transport the specified type of goods/passengers. If this field says OUT OF SERVICE, NOT AUTHORIZED, or INACTIVE USDOT NUMBER, the mover has no right to operate. If the company has been ordered out of service, it will be listed in the Out of Service Date field;
  • The company’s identification and contact information – its legal name, DBA name (a trade name under which the company does business), physical address, phone number, and mailing address;
  • The company’s ID and registration numbers – USDOT number, State Carrier ID (for intrastate moving companies), MC/MX/FF Number (issued by the FMCSA to companies that conduct interstate transportation activities), and DUNS Number (corporate registration number), if applicable;
  • Power units – the number of vehicles that are registered under the name of the company;
  • Drivers – the total number of drivers employed by the company;
  • Operation classification – the type of motor carrier (an X in front of a category indicates that it is relevant to the company, while the absence of a character means that the type of business/activity is not applicable to the company);
  • Carrier operation – the company’s range of operation (interstate, intrastate hazardous material, or intrastate non-hazardous material transportation);
  • Cargo carried – the type of cargo the company is authorized to transport.

You’re strongly advised to review all this information with great care and make sure that:

  1. the company you consider hiring for your move has an active USDOT number and is not ordered out of service;

    A usdot number check is your first step when searching for the best movers for you.

    Initialize your search for good and reliable movers by checking their USDOT number status.

  2. the company’s identification and contact information matches the ones you have received from the movers;
  3. the company is authorized for hire (there should be an X before “ For Hire” in the Operation Classification field);
  4. the company is allowed to transport household goods (there should be an X before “Household Goods” in the Cargo Carried field);
  5. the company is authorized to operate interstate (there should be an X before “Interstate” in the Carrier Operation field), which is of primary importance if you’re moving out of state.

Once you’ve confirmed that the movers are properly licensed and certified, you need to find out how reliable they are. Your dot number check will provide you with some useful information on that aspect as well.

Inspections and Crash Reports

Below the general company information, you’re going to find a table that shows the number of inspections that were made to the movers during the last two years, together with the corresponding results.

# The first row of the table indicates the number of roadside inspections made to the vehicles, drivers, and hazmat (when applicable).

# The second row shows the number of inspections which resulted in an “Out of Service” status (this means that the mover has made one (or more) out of service violations during a single inspection). If you see high numbers in this row, you may want to stay away from the company in question.

# The third row shows the percentage of inspections that resulted in an “Out of Service” status. Naturally, the lower the percentage, the better.

# The fourth row is the National Average – the percentage of all inspections made in the country that resulted in an “Out of Service” status for the year specified in the field. If the numbers in this row are smaller than the numbers in the third row, you need to raise your guard and consider a different moving company.

The next table shows the number of crashes that took place in the US within the last 24 months and involved motor vehicles operated by the moving company you’re researching. It is hardly advisable to entrust your cherished possessions to a company with a history of accidents, of course.

The section below shows the same information (number and results of inspections and number of crashes) for Canada.

Safety Ratings

A usdot number lookup will provide you plenty of important information.

Analyze and compare the data you find on your chosen movers in order to make an informed decision about whether to hire them for your move or not.

Last but not least when performing your USDOT number lookup, you need to turn your attention to the company’s Safety Rating status. It shows the carrier’s compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations:

  • A SATISFACTORY rating means that there is no significant non-compliance with the safety requirements;
  • A CONDITIONAL rating indicates that the company has been in violation of one or more safety regulations;
  • An UNSATISFACTORY rating shows substantial non-compliance with the federal regulations.

Needless to say, moving companies that have a satisfactory safety rating are your best bet.

SEE ALSO: Moving fraud prevention guide

Why Is a USDOT Number Search Important?

So, how will a dot number lookup help you ensure a safe, smooth, and simple move? Why check dot number status? Can it guarantee the trustworthiness of a moving company?

No, not really, but it will provide you with plenty of useful information you cannot get any other way. A dot number check won’t be enough to ensure your successful relocation, but it will help you find reliable professionals who will do a good job with your move. It is only the first step in your research, yet it is indispensable. You need to verify the USDOT number of a moving company in order to confirm its legitimacy. Only when you’re absolutely certain that you’re dealing with properly licensed and fully qualified movers can you begin to consider hiring them for your move. Before making your final decision, however, you’re advised to dig a bit deeper:

  • Call FMCSA for further details concerning the company’s insurance plans and practices – you want your chosen movers to be properly insured, fully bonded, and liable for damage;
  • Find out if the company belongs to a movers’ association – if the company you consider hiring for your move holds accreditation from a well-known and highly esteemed movers’ association, such as AMSA, it is a guarantee of reliability and professionalism;
  • Check the company’s rating with the BBB;
  • Find out if the company has won any awards or accolades for service;
  • Ask for references and get recommendations from other people who have recently used the movers’ services;
  • Read moving reviews left by previous customers of the moving company to find out if they were happy with their choice and if they had any problems with the movers;
  • Research the company’s online profile – visit the company’s webpage and look for warning signs of moving fraud or convincing evidence of the movers’ reliability and competence; check their social media pages; join local forums to get useful feedback from people who have recently worked with the company, etc.;

    Choosing good movers is likely to result in a successful move.

    Now that you’ve chosen the best movers for you, you can rest assured about the success of your move.

  • Call the FMCSA’s safety violation and consumer complaints hotline or research the database of reputable consumer protection sites, such as ProtectYourMove.gov, MovingScam.com, etc., to check the company’s complaint history;
  • Examine the movers’ paperwork to make sure that it is full and clear.

Checking the USDOT number of the moving company you’re interested in on the SAFER database is a great way to confirm that you have chosen a legitimate and trustworthy mover. When paired with some further research, your USDOT number lookup will help you find out everything you need to know about the moving company. Then, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about your move and ensure a safe, smooth, and simple relocation that will give you a successful head start in your new life.

Good luck!

Source: My Moving Reviews

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