What a USDOT Number Is & How to Check It

At a glance

The last thing you need when you’re stressed about moving is to worry about whether your moving company is legit. Unfortunately, fraud is as real in the moving industry as it is everywhere else.

But you can protect yourself and your belongings by checking a company’s USDOT number online before you sign a contract or pay for any moving services.

A moving company’s USDOT number is similar to a license plate number. You type the number into a government website, and the database pulls up the company’s complaint history, safety rating, and accident record.

We’ll take the stress out of your move by showing you how to check your company’s USDOT number—and what to look for when you do.

What is a USDOT number?

A U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number is a unique identifier that tracks safety information for commercial motor vehicles like moving trucks. A USDOT agency called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires every motor carrier that takes cargo across state lines to have a USDOT number.

Additionally, 38 states require local companies that transport goods within state lines to obtain USDOT numbers from the FMCSA.

Why is a USDOT number important?

A USDOT number (sometimes called a DOT number or US DOT number) is important because it protects customers against fraud. It’s an easy way to check a company’s safety record and complaint history—and to verify the company is legitimate.

Some companies try to skirt their safety records by creating fake USDOT numbers.

It’s sketchy, and it’s rare, but it happens. In those cases, you can use the FMCSA website to see if the USDOT number on your moving company’s website is legit.

You can avoid getting ripped off by checking the company’s USDOT number with the FMCSA. We’ll show you how below.

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WHAT IS AN MC NUMBER?

WHAT IS AN MC NUMBER?

A USDOT number connects a transport company to its safety record. If a company also has an MC number, it is allowed by the FMCSA to provide interstate transportation. Any moving company you hire to take your belongings across state lines should have an MC number.

How to check a USDOT number

FMCSA database

To check a USDOT number, go to the FMCSA website and search for a company by name, DOT number, or MC number. Movers should list their USDOT and MC numbers on their websites—though this info isn’t always obvious. Otherwise, you can search by name.

You can use the results to check a company’s record for complaints, crashes, safety, and insurance.

What to look for when checking a USDOT number

It’s easy to do a DOT number lookup, but the results can be tricky to understand. We’ll walk you through what to look for to make sure your moving company is legit.

How to check for fraud

The easiest way to verify a company is legit is to make sure the info on its website matches what you see when you search the FMCSA’s website:

  • USDOT number. If a company website doesn’t display its USDOT number, you can do an FMCSA search by the company’s name.
  • Name. Make sure the company name in the FMCSA database is the same as the company you think you’re hiring.
  • Address and phone number. Check to see if the address and phone number from the FMCSA website matches the company’s website.
  • State carrier ID number. If the company isn’t required to have a USDOT number, the state carrier ID number verifies that it’s licensed for intrastate moving.
  • Operating status. This should say “ACTIVE” if a company is legitimate and safe to hire. Avoid companies that return results of “Inactive USDOT Number,” “OUT-OF-SERVICE,” or “NOT AUTHORIZED.”
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DON’T GET SCAMMED

DON’T GET SCAMMED

You can do more to avoid fraud than check a company’s USDOT number. Check out our tips for avoiding moving scams.

How to check for crashes

You can check a company’s crash record by clicking on the hyperlinked text that says “Inspections/Crashes In US” in the upper left corner of the search results screen.

FMCSA crash record

Crash records include crashes reported by states to the FMCSA for the previous 24 months and are broken down into three categories:

  1. Fatal. The number of accidents in which at least one person was killed.
  2. Injury. The number of accidents in which someone was injured but didn’t die.
  3. Tow. The number of accidents in which a vehicle had to be towed and nobody was injured or killed.

How to check safety rating

You can check a company’s safety rating by clicking on the hyperlinked text that says “Safety Rating” in the upper left corner of the search results screen. The FMCSA assigns one of three grades to the moving company:

  1. Satisfactory. This is the highest rating and means the company complies with all USDOT regulations and FMCSA safety requirements.
  2. Conditional. A conditional rating is given if the company is out of compliance with one or more USDOT regulations and FMCSA safety requirements.
  3. Unsatisfactory. This is the lowest rating and means the company is substantially out of compliance with USDOT regulations and FMCSA safety requirements.
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WANT MORE INFO?

WANT MORE INFO?

You can order a detailed FMCSA report called a company safety profile if you want more info than what’s available in the company snapshot online. Reports cost $20, and requests take 72 hours to process.

How to check insurance

Insurance records aren’t included in the main FMCSA search results, but you can access them by clicking on “Licensing & Insurance” in a blue box in the top right corner of your screen.

Enter the company’s USDOT number or name to search for licensing and insurance info. We’ll warn you: the report may not tell you much, but you’ll be able to cross-check the company’s basic information and find out whether its insurance is pending or has been revoked.

How to check for complaints

The FMCSA is surprisingly unhelpful when it comes to customer complaints. Many times, a USDOT search won’t reveal any complaint information. Rather than rely on the FMCSA for complaint details, we recommend you spend 5–10 minutes reading reviews online. Google and Yelp are good places to start.

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HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT

HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT

Check out our guide on how to file a complaint if you’ve had a bad experience with your moving company (like damaged items and contract violations).

USDOT number FAQ

Which companies need USDOT numbers?

A USDOT number is necessary for commercial motor vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds or more and engage in interstate commerce. Many states also require USDOT numbers for intrastate commerce (when a company doesn’t cross state lines).

How can I do a USDOT number search?

If you don’t have a company’s USDOT number, you can do a DOT number search by entering the company’s name or MC number into the FMCSA database. You can also often find the USDOT number on the moving company’s website.

How can I see a trucking company’s safety audit?

To see the FMCSA safety audit for your moving company, go to the FMCSA website, search for the company’s record, and click on the hyperlinked text that says “Safety Rating” on the results page.

Is it hard to do a USDOT check?

To see the FMCSA safety audit for your moving company, go to the FMCSA website, search for the company’s record, and click on the hyperlinked text that says “Safety Rating” on the results page.

What if a company doesn’t follow USDOT regulations?

A company’s safety rating is negatively affected if it doesn’t follow USDOT regulations. A company that doesn’t have any violations has a rating of satisfactory, while unsafe companies receive ratings of conditional or unsatisfactory.

About Kurt Manwaring

Kurt Manwaring
Kurt Manwaring brings nearly a decade’s worth of research experience as a business consultant to the Move.org team. He specializes in taking complicated issues (like moving) and presenting them in a way that everyone can understand. His writing has been featured in hundreds of publications, including USA Today, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.