The Driver Qualification File (DQF) Explained | Apex Capital

The Driver Qualification File (DQF) Explained

The Driver Qualification File (DQF) Explained

We’re explaining the requirements of the DQF. If you need help as a new entrant get this complete guide for what you can expect in your first year of trucking for free!

The FMCSA requires trucking companies to keep a Driver Qualification File, DQF, on file for each hired driver. Learn what goes in that file, what doesn’t go in the file and how long you need to keep everything.

This video series, “What to Expect as a New Entrant: A Guide to Running Your Trucking Company During the First Year” has been developed by Apex Capital to help you understand the policies and procedures that you must have in place in order to pass your safety audit and receive your permanent operating authority.

Today we’re talking to Reghan Orman about the Driver Qualification File or the DQ File Reghan is Associate General Counsel at Apex Capital and she also leads the Apex Startup Program, a program designed to help those interested in starting a trucking company, get their operating authority.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires every motor carrier company to have a DQ File in place for every driver they hire. And the purpose of that is to help the FMCSA make sure that all motor carriers are hiring qualified candidates to operate commercial motor vehicles.

Now, you need to have a driver qualification file even if you’re an owner-operator under your own authority driving your own truck.

The FMCSA requires you to keep a lot of records in the Driver Qualification File.

So for the full list, go to but as an example, you need to have completed applications, annual review of driver’s driving record, as well as a medical examiner certificate for every one of your drivers.

Now, the record-keeping requirement for the DQ file is three years minimum.

If you don’t have a DQ file for one of your drivers, you are violating and FMCSA regulation.

And any time an FMCSA regulation is violated, the motor carrier could be liable for civil penalties, and even sometimes criminal penalties.

But this particular violation, not having the DQ file, qualifies as a record-keeping violation and for this type of violation, the motor carrier could be liable for $1,000 a day that maxes out at $10,000, but that’s per violation.

So if you don’t keep driver qualification files at all, you can see how that could really add up.

You have just watched one video in our series, What to Expect as a New Entrant: A Guide to Running Your Trucking Company during the First Year.

Please see other videos in our series or download our whitepaper to learn more about being a new entrant, insurance, alcohol and drug testing , taxes, IFTA, safety, the driver qualification file, hours of service, the safety audit and additional filings.