Automobile shippers, as well as moving companies, are required to possess a few certifications and licenses to do their business within legal and safe boundaries. Companies that do not meet these requirements may not be trustworthy or safe.
Several state and federal associations are in charge of tracking and monitoring such companies to make sure they meet all auto transport licensing requirements. The purpose of these requirements is to ensure auto transporters do their business legally, and they are responsible for their customers’ goods in case something happens during transportation.
This article will explain some of the auto transport licensing requirements, as well as what you may want to pay attention to when hiring a shipper, to make sure he is trustworthy and will deliver on his promise of safely transporting your vehicle.
Auto Transport Licensing Requirements
First of all, the shipping company you are considering should possess licensing as is required by the U.S. state based on which it operates. For example, if the company’s headquarters is located in New Jersey, it must own an NJPM or an NJPC number, meaning it is legally registered in the New Jersey state, and can perform its activity within state boundaries legally.
The auto transport licensing requirements in each state differ. Some are stricter than others. Kentucky and similar states demand their companies to have several registration numbers and state licenses, while Delaware and states with similar laws ask companies for only a permit which proves the transport vehicle’s registration.
For the auto transport licensing requirements in the state of California, visit the state of California department of motor vehicles website. Other states should have similar resources.
These are normally just the first part of the licensing requirements moving and automobile shipping companies must possess to operate their businesses legally in their state of origin. However, many shippers also perform their transport services outside state boundaries.
In such cases, other certifications and licenses are needed as well. These auto transport licensing requirements are normally the ones you should look for when speaking to a transport company, and are also necessary when doing a background check on them.
United States DOT Numbers and Other Auto Transport Licensing Requirements
Besides the requirements of the US state, there are other regulations auto shipping companies must respect as well. Companies must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA for short.
The purpose of the FMCSA is to keep track of shipping companies’ operations by outlining the exact cargo, operation type and area in which carriers can perform their services. The FMCSA also decides what kind of insurance auto transport companies are required to have according to federal regulations.
Shippers must gain, from the U.S. department of transportation, a United States DOT number to operate within the federal state. Although only 28 states obligate shipping companies to have a United States DOT number, countless have it, so it’s a very efficient way to check a shipper’s history/background. Normally, DOT numbers can be found printed on the side of each company truck, being one of the ways our government identifies a certain carrier out of the crowd when gathering info from compliance reviews, audits, inspections, etc.
Verifying the Certifications and Licenses of your Auto Transport Company
To verify if your company meets auto transport licensing requirements, you may want to take the following steps:
- Cross check the US DOT number, found normally on the doors of trucks belonging to the company.
- If the DOT number is valid, you can check the numbers with the FMCSA website and see if you get a match there as well. This would mean the company is insured and licensed, possessing a valid US DOT number.
- Afterwards, visit the Better Business Bureau website to check for negative evaluations or bad remarks regarding the company. Usually, you won’t find mentions about certifications or licensing requirements here. However, it’s a great resource when trying to confirm the ability and reputation of a particular company. You may also be able to pick up on false pretenses or illegal activity if there is any.
- Finally, visit the department of transportation in your state to ensure the shipping company possesses all the commercial and required licenses to legally offer its services inside the state.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.