If you are planning to start your own truck business or work as a CDL driver, a DOT Certification by the Department of Transportation is a must. To obtain it, you are required to meet all the needed conditions that we are going to introduce to you on the second section of this article. Hence, let’s get to the major part to know how to obtain CDL DOT certification.


cdl dot certification
Steps to obtain a DOT certification


1. What is a CDL DOT certification?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) certification is a quality mark that confirms a driver’s ability to operate commercial vehicles on America’s roads and highways. Most states need DOT certification to drive commercial motor vehicles such as semi-trucks, delivery vehicles, and public transit.

You must first become DOT certified in order to get a commercial driver’s license rather than a personal driver’s license. Most fleet drivers must have a commercial driver’s license since it serves as a confirmation of DOT certification.

A driver must pass a physical exam as well as a series of safe-driving exams to become DOT certified. The United States Department of Transportation is in charge of DOT certification. Every two years, commercial vehicle operators must renew their DOT certification.


>> Read more: How can DOT affects CDL drivers’ careers?


2. Why truck drivers should obtain a CDL DOT certification?

In general, all trucking businesses or CDL drivers that operate commercial vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds in interstate commerce must register their vehicles with the FMCSA and get a DOT number. The DOT number identifies the carrier rather than the individual truck. DOT numbers are also required for carriers transporting hazardous chemicals such as propane, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and certain acetylene tanks, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

In cases like these, a vehicle traveling from point A to point B inside a single state may nonetheless be involved in interstate commerce:

  • Your automobile goes between two locations in one state but passes through another on the way.
  • Your car goes between two places inside the same state, but the entire transaction or transit begins or ends outside the state, even in nations other than the United States.

Even if you are certain that your carrier performs all of its business inside a single state, check with your state authorities to see if a DOT number is required, and look into any related insurance requirements.


dot certification
You are required to have a DOT number 


3. How to get a CDL DOT certification?


3.1. Obtain a DOT number

A DOT number identifies a truck and its owner. This helps the FMCSA collect information on the firm and the driver’s safety. A widespread misconception among fleet managers is that DOT numbers are only necessary for long-distance trucking operations. If you want to drive any form of commercial vehicle in the United States, you must first determine if a DOT number is required. While the majority of states need a DOT number for a variety of commercial vehicle activities, some do not, and there are several exemptions.

To receive a DOT number, new applicants must first register for one online using the Unified Registration System. You will need to fill out an application and pay a filing fee. When applying for this number, you must specify the nature of your business. Among the categories are motor carriers, brokers, shippers, freight forwarders, and cargo tank facilities. The FMCSA is also mandated to maintain track of any information concerning hazardous item transportation for the safety of the public.

You will receive your DOT number after your application has been approved.


3.2. Pass the DOT physical exam

Before operating a commercial truck, a vehicle operator must pass a Department of Transportation physical examination (DOT Physical Exam). This examination must be performed by a credentialed medical examiner who is on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s National Registry. The National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners lists doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and other medical professionals who are certified to administer DOT exams.

This exam confirms that you are physically competent to safely drive a CMV. It also shows that you have no medical conditions that would prevent you from operating a commercial motor vehicle. This test must be completed by certified DOT medical examiners. The DOT tester will test your hearing, vision, blood, and urine for any underlying medical issues. If you pass the exam, you will be eligible for a DOT medical card.

After you finish the physical, it will be valid for up to 24 months. If you have a significant medical condition, the medical examiner may award you a two-year certificate. Certain medical issues, such as high blood pressure, can be tracked in this manner. For


3.3. Receive the DOT medical card

A DOT medical card is proof of passing a DOT physical. If you pass the exam, the doctor who gave it to you will give you this. Make sure your CDL medical card is secure and easily accessible. The DOT medical card is also known as a Medical Examiner’s Certificate.

You will be issued a DOT medical card once your medical examiner has passed the DOT physical. If you don’t receive one after passing a test, make sure to request one so you don’t have to take and pay for another one. 

The cost of the DOT physical includes a DOT medical card. The physician’s office should not charge you more for a CDL medical card. The DOT card certifies that you are physically fit to operate a commercial vehicle safely. It should be stored in your driver’s qualification (DQ) file as interim documentation until you acquire your most current MVR.

Anyone driving the following vehicles in interstate commerce must have a DOT medical exam and a DOT card:

  • Vehicles weighing 10,001 pounds or more in gross vehicle weight (GVW), gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), gross combination weight (GCW), or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) (GCWR).
  • Vehicles that can transport more than 15 passengers.
  • Vehicles transporting hazardous materials must be placarded.

As of January 30, 2015, drivers with a Class A, B, or C CDL who are classified as “non-exempted interstate” are no longer needed to carry their DOT medical card.


3.4. Get your vehicle DOT inspected

This inspection must be completed by a trained DOT inspector. The inspector will check your vehicle to ensure that it is safe and that all parts and accessories are in working condition. Furthermore, the inspector will check your truck to ensure that your DOT number is displayed appropriately.

You will be DOT certified if you fulfill the DOT certification standards specified above. Once qualified, you’ll be held to a greater standard of responsibility and experience than a non-commercial driver. You must fulfill all DOT standards to maintain your DOT certification validly.

You will be DOT certified once you have fulfilled the necessary prerequisites. If you want to continue driving, your DOT certification is only valid for two years and must be updated. Obtaining your DOT certification assures your and other drivers’ safety on the road. If you do not fulfill the DOT certification standards, your license may be revoked.


cdl dot certification for truck drivers
If you do not meet the standards, your license will be revoked


4. What are the Frequently Asked Questions of DOT certification?


4.1. How long do you have after your DOT medical card expires?

Depending on your state. For instance, in Indiana, if your medical certificate is expired for more than one year, you must retest.


4.2. Do I need to have a truck before I get my DOT and MC Numbers?

No, you do not need to have a truck before you get your DOT and MC Numbers.


4.3. Can I have a CDL without a medical card?

Drivers who are required to have a medical examiner’s certificate and fail to maintain a current medical certificate with the Department may lose their CDL.


4.4. Can I receive a CDL if I fail the DOT?

You must pass the DOT exam to receive CDL. You can retake the DOT to achieve your CDL.


The above information is about how to obtain CDL DOT Certification and the steps to receive it. After reading, we hope you can get all the necessary information to get a DOT certification in the near future. Moreover, if you are preparing for your CDL, let’s practice our free CDL Practice Test with the latest questions and information.