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Differences Between a DOT Number and MC Number

What's in this article?
  1. What Is A Dot Number?
  2. What Is The Dot Number Used For?
  3. Benefits Of Having A Dot Number
  4. How Do You Get A Dot Number?
  5. What Is An Mc Number?
  6. What Is The Mc Number Used For?
  7. Benefits Of Having An Mc Number
  8. How Do You Get An Mc Number?
  9. How Are The Dot Number And Mc Number Different From Each Other?
  10. Which One Should You Use?
  11. Wrapping Up
Differences Between a DOT Number and MC Number

If you're in the market for shipping a car, you may have come across references to DOT and MC numbers. But what do these codes mean? What's the difference between them?

This blog post will explain everything you need to know about DOT and MC numbers, including what they represent and which one you need for your specific shipment. Stay tuned!

What is a DOT number?

A Department of Transportation (DOT) number is a unique identifier assigned to each commercial vehicle. It consists of a combination of numbers and letters.

It must be displayed on the vehicle's door or on a sign on the back of the vehicle.

The DOT number is released and approved by the FMCSA or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This is the operating authority regulating all vehicles in the United States.

All commercial vehicles transporting passengers or cargo in interstate commerce must have a DOT number. This includes trucks, buses, trailers, and other types of equipment.

The DOT number must be renewed every year via the official interstate operating authority. Also, it must be kept up to date at all times. If a commercial vehicle changes ownership, the new owner must update the DOT number with the new information.

What is the DOT number used for?

The DOT number is used for many purposes, including:

  • ​Identifying the vehicle
  • Recognition by multiple operating authorities
  • ​Overseeing the condition and maintenance of the vehicle by private carriers
  • Tracing the vehicle's ownership history and accident records

Benefits of having a DOT number

Here are several benefits to having a DOT number:

  • ​It ensures that commercial vehicles are safe and well-maintained by a trucking company.
  • ​It reduces the number of accidents involving commercial vehicles.
  • ​It makes tracking down the owner of a commercial vehicle in an accident or incident easier.

How do you get a DOT number?

A DOT number is assigned by the FMCSA, which oversees all commercial vehicles in the United States.

You'll need to apply to your local FMCSA office to get a DOT number. Keep in mind that there are strict eligibility requirements and guidelines for getting a DOT number. So, it's essential to understand what these are before applying.

If you're ready to apply for a new DOT number or want to update your existing one, contact your local FMCSA office as soon as possible.

With a DOT number in hand, you are assured that your commercial vehicle is up-to-date and compliant.

What is an MC number?

MC is a shortened term for Motor Carrier. All carriers transporting passengers and goods across state lines need an MC number.

It is a statewide operating body and special identification information given by the FMCSA to logistic/moving businesses that engage in interstate commerce or transportation freight over state lines.

To get an MC number from the Department of Transportation, you need to apply online or fill out a form at your local FMCSA office. Then, you must supply detailed information about your company and its for-hire carriers. Hence, preparing these documents in advance is essential.

The system automatically assigns the MC number. But it's not considered valid until an employee at the DOT headquarters has verified it.

Once this step has been completed and approved, you will receive your official MC number certificate within two weeks.

What is the MC number used for?

The MC number is used to track the safety and compliance of carriers transporting people and goods across state lines. It's also used to identify the carrier in an accident or incident.

Benefits of having an MC number

Here are several benefits to having an MC number:

  • Reduces the chances of being involved in an accident
  • Makes it easier to get insurance coverage
  • Improves your company's credibility and reputation

How Do You Get an MC number?

You must first apply and meet specific eligibility requirements to get an MC number. This typically involves providing information about your company and its safety record. It also includes taking a written exam and paying applicable fees.

The specific application process will vary depending on your location. So, consult with your local FMCSA office or transport safety authority for guidance. With their support and assistance, you can get an MC number in no time.


How are the DOT number and MC Number Different from Each Other?

The FMCSA used DOT and MC numbers to track and oversee commercial vehicles in the United States. But they differ in several key ways.

The DOT number is primarily used for safety and maintenance purposes. In contrast, the MC number serves a broader purpose of tracking carriers across state lines.

Also, obtaining an MC number is typically more involved than getting a DOT number. It involves filling out a detailed application and submitting documents to your local FMCSA office.

Finally, getting an MC number is generally more stringent than those for a DOT number. For example, you may be required to have specific insurance coverage. You may also need to meet certain operational standards to qualify for the MC number.​

While all interstate movers must have and display a DOT number on their commercial carriers, not all movers are required to have an MC number.

Some interstate moving companies require an MC number and a DOT number. For-hire carriers that transport passengers or federally restricted items over state boundaries must also get an interstate operating authority MC number. For-hire carriers who solely transport non-federally regulated goods are typically excluded from obtaining an MC number.

Suppose you're looking to get one of these numbers for your commercial vehicle. First, you should understand all the eligibility requirements and guidelines. This will help you prepare your application in advance and improve your approval chances. 

Getting a DOT or MC number can be a relatively straightforward process with the proper knowledge and planning.​

Which One Should You Use?

The DOT number is required for all interstate commercial vehicles. In contrast, the MC number is only required for certain types of interstate commercial vehicles.

If you're not sure which one you need, it's best to contact your local FMCSA office for more information.

You should use the DOT number if:

  • You are transporting passengers or goods across state lines.
  • You operate a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds.
  • You are hauling hazardous materials that require placards.

In contrast, you should use the MC number if:

  • You are transporting passengers or goods across state lines, and your vehicle has a GVWR of less than 10,001 pounds.
  • You are operating a vehicle that requires a Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Permit.
  • You are hauling hazardous materials that don't require placards.

Wrapping Up

There are many factors to consider when getting a DOT or an MC number for your commercial vehicle.

By understanding the differences between these two types of numbers and what they entail, you can make the best decision for your business.​

To make the right choice for your business, we recommend contacting your local FMCSA office to discuss your situation in more detail. They will be able to help answer any questions you may have about DOT and MC numbers and guide you through the application process if necessary.​

Finally, you can call us today for more information about unique vehicle identification numbers. At A1 Auto Transport, we’ll be happy to answer your questions about everything from obtaining a DOT number to understanding the different VIN types.


Frequently Asked Questions

What other factors should you consider when choosing between a DOT and an MC number, and which one should you use in your particular situation?

Who can you contact for assistance if you need help obtaining an MC number or have any questions about the process?

How do I know if my commercial vehicle requires a DOT or an MC number?

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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.

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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Due to the nature of my work, I must relocate every couple of years to where my company needs me. Because of this, I’ve tested several moving and auto transport companies over the years.

And my choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

The only time my shipment was delayed was during winter when a snowstorm closed down all the major roads. And they still found an alternative and got my car delivered before roads got unstuck.

When I moved to West Virginia, they picked up my car the very day I called them. I like to think they take special care of me considering all the business I’ve sent them. I’ll continue to support A1 Auto Transport. It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

I considered selling my car when I moved to Washington. It was old and rusty, but I grew attached to it. So, I called a couple companies to transport it to my new home, but they both fell through.

The first one couldn’t decide on a schedule. He would constantly change the pickup date till I got frustrated and canceled. The second was insufferable, very rude on the phone, even worse in person.

They started picking a part my car asking me why I still have it. If that’s their opinion of my vehicle, how can I trust they’ll take care of it? If something happened midway, why wouldn’t they just blame it on the car instead of paying up?

So, I cancelled this company as well and turned to A1 Auto Transport. From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought they were lacking customers, but the email spoke for itself. In just one email, everything I needed to know was there, including a contact number I could use to get more information or confirm the transport.

I called and got things rolling. I was very pleased with the driver. He followed standard procedure and represented his company well. Can’t remember his name, but props to him!

The car arrived in Washington 6 days later in excellent condition. From what I understand, the transport was delayed a bit by a storm, but since the time window was 4-6 days from the beginning, I don’t really care. You have my full support and recommendation!

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Cristine Benoit
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There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them.

After doing some research, I got even more worried reading about all the scams and accidents that can happen. But, I have work to do and couldn’t afford to drive my newly purchased Mini Cooper all the way to Virginia.

Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport. They are very good at their jobs. I spent more than an hour drilling Joe with various questions, and he never once lost his patience. He saw I was interested, so he bore with me until I was satisfied. The driver was also very courteous and my car was intact on arrival. I couldn’t have asked for more.

By the way, the price we first agreed on stayed the same. There were no delays or unexpected “surprises.” I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

David Osallo
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We were abroad during the transport, so the transport was a bit tricky. The driver had to pick it up from storage on short notice and get it to its destination within at most 10 days. I was happy to note it arrived sooner. We got it 3 days early, right when we got home to pick it up. It made getting around way easier. Awesome service!

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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