How do I activate an inactive DOT number?

Your trucking authority status changed to inactive recently on the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) website. CDLs alone are not enough. Motor carriers have to maintain their MC and DOT operating authority in order to stay in business.

The purpose of this article is to explain how to obtain a USDOT number back in good standing with the department of transportation so you can resume intrastate and interstate commerce. During this session, we will discuss not only how to start the process but also what to expect in terms of costs, timelines, and what an inactive status really means.

How do I activate an inactive DOT number

What Does An Inactive DOT Number Mean?

To begin with, it is essential that you understand what deactivation means in terms of the DOT number for a motor carrier. IFTA taxes, lapsed trucking insurance, failure to file your required biennial update are all reasons why the FMCSA might deactivate your status. Inactive statuses are most commonly moved due to failure to file biennial update forms. Do you want to know how much reactivating your DOT number will cost?

When reactivating a DOT or MC number, it’s important to distinguish between them since they often get entangled. Failure to file the biennial update or failing safety scores typically lead to the revocation of a DOT. DOTs can also be deactivated when MCs become inactive or revoked. Additionally, MCs are commonly revoked when they do not have the required insurance or BOC 3 posted due to revoked DOT numbers.

What Does An Inactive DOT Number Mean

MCs that are revoked can be dis-associated with DOT numbers by filing a MCS 150. MC numbers are reinstated for a fee of $80, but if you were removed from service you need to reapply with the $300 application fee as a new entrant. In order to begin the reinstatement process, a form would need to be submitted and the reinstatement fee would be much more nominal.

Inactive DOT Number Reasons

U.S. DOT numbers can become inactive for a number of reasons, including not submitting an entry audit or not paying taxes to the International Fuel Tax Association (IFTA). Inactive DOT numbers can also be caused by a couple of other situations. You can check your USDOT number here.

Inactive DOT Number Reasons

Biennial paperwork not filed

Inactive DOT numbers are most frequently caused by incomplete biennial paperwork. Failure to submit an update by the deadline will result in the deactivation of your DOT number. You will also be fined up to $1,000 for each day that you fail to submit an update. If changes occur in a carrier’s business information, it must be updated every two years by the FMCSA.

It is the most common form that companies need to fill out, MCS-150. DOT numbers have a second to last digit that indicates the year you need to file, while the last digit indicates the month. A number of information is collected on this form, including mileage and the number of vehicles in your fleet. Filing on time and accurately is critical for creating safety performance scores.

Trucking insurance lapses

Motor carrier insurance must be on file with the FMCSA for trucking companies to operate legally. In the event that you fail to make your insurance payments, your DOT number will be deactivated. You need different types of insurance depending on what you haul, according to the FMCSA.

For hazardous goods and passengers, motor carriers must carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability coverage. Trucking companies that transport household goods require $5,000 in cargo coverage per vehicle and $10,000 per incident. By maintaining the right insurance policy, you will remain in good standing with the DOT.

Safety audit fails

As part of the new entrant program, trucking companies undergo safety audits within 12 months of operation. Various safety controls are examined in these reviews, including:

  • Qualifications for drivers
  • Records of service hours
  • Procedures for vehicle maintenance
  • History of vehicle inspections
  • Medical information about the driver
  • Programs for testing for alcohol and controlled substances
  • Reporting of accidents
  • The insurance industry

Failure to pass your safety audit will be explained to you in writing, along with what you need to do to fix it. Your corrective action plan (CAP) must be submitted within 45 days. The FMCSA will revoke your registration if you do not formulate a CAP by the deadline or if you neglect to formulate a CAP. It is possible to be fined between $250 and almost $80,000 for certain violations, depending on the offense.

Reactivating Your DOT Number

You don’t have to give up when you reach inactive status. After correcting the issue that made you inactive in the first place, you can apply for reinstatement of your DOT status. Therefore, if your DOT number was placed inactive due to failure to submit your biennial update, then you must submit that before you can request reactivation.

The FMCSA website provides the required reinstatement form which has to be completed, mailed, or

online once the issue has been resolved. Currently, the MCS-150 form is used for this process. The MCS-150B will need to be used instead of the standard version if you are hauling hazardous materials or have a hazmat endorsement. The form can always be found at if you are having trouble finding it.

  • The following information must be included in all reinstatement requests:
  • Number of the MC
  • Carrier’s legal name
  • Name on the check / money order of the individual or company
  • In the case of a credit card payment, the billing address should be as follows:
  • Contact information for you
  • A signature and a date
  • If you have an email address, please provide it


When it comes to your business, it is important that you understand that even if you reactivate an inactive number and continue with your business, it will remain on the trucking company’s permanent record, which is the motor carrier identification report, and that record is public information.

All inactive periods, reactivations, and placements out of service are included here. Even though these matters are sometimes impossible to avoid, it is still important to emphasize this to potential clients when looking for a reliable carrier.

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