How to Start a Trucking Company
How to Start a Trucking Company
So, you want to start a trucking company. Saying you want to do it is easy, but actually getting started can be confusing. You have to know what forms you need, where to get them, and the order you need to complete them. The good news is that we help people start trucking companies every day with the Apex Startup Program and we can help you, too.
Before we get started, you need to answer two important questions. First, do you plan to haul freight across state lines? If so, you will be hauling interstate freight and you will need to get motor carrier authority, which is often referred to as an MC#. If not, you will be hauling intrastate freight – which simply means within your state – intrastate freight typically involves fewer requirements, however, those requirements do vary by state.
Second, do you plan to drive a truck for your trucking company? If so, you will need a commercial driver’s license, also called a CDL. To get your CDL, contact your state DMV to learn more. Trucking company owners aren’t required to obtain a CDL but any drivers you hire are.
Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get started.
We know we just said we’re getting started, but if you want to get more detailed information about starting your trucking company, then stop right here, go download our How to Start a Trucking Company Whitepaper, and then you can come back and follow along with us as we go through each item.
The first thing to do is set up your trucking company’s business structure. There are four main entity types: sole proprietor, partnership, limited liability company, and corporation. Research each to decide which business entity is best for you and your trucking company.
At Apex, we typically set up trucking companies as LLCs, it provides the protection of a corporation with the simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership. When you set up your business entity you’ll go to your state’s Secretary of State or similar office. The costs will vary.
After you set up your business entity, you’ll file for an Employee Identification Number, or an EIN For short. The EIN is an ID number that’s assigned to businesses for federal taxes and reporting purposes. Getting your EIN is a fairly simple process and it’s free!
DOT and MC Number:
Registering with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also known as the FMCSA, for your Department of Transportation Number and Motor Carrier operating authority. The DOT and MC Number is the biggest part of starting a trucking company. You need to have both because the DOT number is required for all carrier vehicles weighing more than a certain amount, transporting property or people in commerce, or operating between state lines, and the MC number allows trucking companies to legally haul freight across state lines.
The cost of applying for common for-hire motor carrier authority is $300.
So, you’ve applied, now to get active authority there are two other prerequisites. You must have proof of insurance and a BOC-3 filing.
A process agent is a person who can receive legal documents for your trucking company in the event of a lawsuit. You’ll need a process agent for every state that you operate in. This is done through a BOC-3 Filing. There are a lot of BOC-3 filing companies out there so do your research. You’ll want to find a reputable one. Do some research. The price of their services will vary, we’ve seen the cost start at as low as $50 and go up from there.
You’ll need proof of liability insurance coverage within 90 days of filing for your authority. And, while it’s not required for active authority, we recommend you also get cargo insurance since the vast majority of brokers and shippers will require it before you can haul for them. You can learn more about the insurance requirements on the FMCSA website.
Getting insurance coverage will take research. Get a few quotes from different companies and choose the best option for your business. Insurance is one of the largest upfront costs. However, the initial down payment for insurance can range from $4,000 to $6,000 with monthly insurance payments ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 per truck.
We’re back to let you know that we’re a little over halfway through this How to Start a Trucking Company checklist. Yup, we said halfway. If you feel like this is too much The Apex Startup Program can help! The Apex Startup Program will help you with the registrations and filings so that you can focus on building a successful business. Call 855-211-0929 to get started today.
Another interstate commerce filing you’ll need is the Unified Carrier Registration, also called UCR.
The cost of getting your UCR depends on your fleet size. Just remember more trucks, the higher the annual filing fee.
You’ll also need to register your truck and get apportioned license plates. The International Registration Plan, IRP for short, is an agreement between the continental United States and Canadian provinces that allows them to divide payments of registration fees based on distance traveled in different jurisdictions.
To find out how much IRP will cost check out the IRP fee estimator on their website.
Now it’s time to register for Quarterly Fuel Taxes through the International Fuel Tax Agreement also called IFTA. Before filing quarterly fuel taxes, you need to register with your state agency that handles fuel taxes and order IFTA cab decals to put on your truck. IFTA registration and cab decal costs will vary.
And last but not least, make sure to check for other State-Specific Registrations. Your state might have additional requirements, and you might also need intrastate authority. Some states also require a weight distance tax permit to haul through their state, such as Kentucky, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon.
There you have it! Those are all the steps to starting a trucking company. Thanks for watching, if you want more information head over to our website.