How to Get a Moving License

Categories: General
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Each state has it's own rules and requirements regarding commercial driver licensure. Generally, however, you need a CDL if you operate any of the following vehicles:

  • All single vehicles with a manufacturer's weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more.

  • All trailers with a manufacturer's weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, if the gross weight rating of the combined vehicle(s) is 26,001 pounds or higher.

  • All vehicles designed to transport 16 or more persons (including the driver). (Private, church, buses).

  • All vehicles that carry placarded amounts of hazardous materials.

These vehicles are divided into three classes, A, B, and C. The higher class CDL allows you to drive vehicles in any of the lower classes provided you have the appropriate endorsements.
Recreational Vehicle Operators are exempted when driving RV's for non-commercial purposes. This includes two axle rental trucks, and horse trailers for non-commercial purposes. Use This Web site to check your home state's motor vehicle department for specific rules in your state.

Operating authority is the term used by transportation regulatory agencies to describe a grant of legal permission by a federal or state government to engage in for-hire interstate (state-to-state) or intrastate (within a state) transportation by motor vehicle. Essentially, it is a business license. Much like a plumber needs to be licensed and insured, so too does a trucker or mover (also called a motor carrier).

In certain areas called Commercial Zones no trucking license is needed if you operate solely within the zone. However, if you are unlicensed and you transport regulated commodities where one or both points are outside the zone, you run the risk of being issued notices of violation and having to pay substantial civil penalties.

If you transport residential household goods on a regular basis, you will need a household goods authority (a moving license). Authority is broken down by type (common, contract, and broker) and commodity (property except household goods, household goods, and passenger). Common carriers are essentially companies that are open to the public for hire. Contract carriers only serve businesses with whom they have a contract. Brokers merely arrange for transportation but don’t actually take possession of a shipment. General commodities are classified as Property Except Household Goods, while the personal effects of a homeowner are considered Household Goods<.

If you apply for interstate authority through, the cost to get your operating authority is a one-time, flat fee of $499 or $700 depending on the level of expertise you require. This is an all-inclusive rate that includes the federal filing fee, your USDOT registration number (in addition to your MC license number) and the process agent; everything you need to get your operating authority except insurance. Some truck permit companies (who may or may not have licensed practitioners working on your application) charge up to $850 for this service.

Beware, as some permit companies may offer you a low rate but then will add on additional charges for the process agent and your USDOT Registration filing. To get Interstate authority you do not need prior experience. In order to obtain Interstate household goods authority, you must simply be able to certify that you are fit, willing and able to exercise the special care associated with transporting household goods.

Carriers need to have a minimum amount of personal, property, and cargo insurance to get authority. The amount you need to have depends on the weight of your vehicle and the class of goods you are transporting.
When you operate vehicles having Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or more, the dollar amounts in parentheses below represent the minimum amount of bodily injury and property damage (liability) insurance coverage you must maintain and have on file with the federal government:

  • Non-hazardous commodities ($750,000)

  • Hazardous materials referenced in the FMCSA's insurance regulations at 49 CFR 1043.2(b)(2)(c) ($1,000,000)

  • Hazardous materials referenced in the FMCSA's insurance regulations at 49 CFR 1043.2(b)(2)(b) ($5,000,000)
If you operate vehicles having less than Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds, the dollar amounts in parentheses below represent the minimum amount of bodily injury and property damage (liability) insurance coverage you must maintain and have on file with the federal government:

  • Any quantity of Class A or B explosives, any quantity of poison gas (Poison A), or highway route controlled quantity of radioactive materials ($5,000,000)

  • Commodities other than listed above ($300,000)
Common Carriers must also file evidence of a minimum $10,000 cargo insurance policy.

A Tariff is a published listing of your rates and charges and the rules that apply to the transportation of a residential household goods shipment. If you apply to become an Interstate common carrier of household goods (mover) the United States Code and Federal Regulations require that you publish a Tariff before you can begin lawfully operating. Your Tariff must include all of the rates and charges that you will charge a shipper of household goods and you may not apply a rate or charge unless it appears in your published Tariff.

There are civil and criminal penalties for not publishing and abiding by your lawful Tariff. To find out more information about the Federal Tariff Requirement<, call the USDOT directly at: 202-565-1578.

Note: if you will be transporting household goods, be sure to ask about the tariff requirement for a moving company. will publish your custom Tariff for a one-time fee of $550 for Interstate Rates.

Once you get your Interstate operating authority, you must register your authority with the Single State Registration System (SSRS). will make your annual SSRS filings for a fee of $149 per annual application. Essentially, you must pay each of the 38 participating states a fee for each vehicle you will operate in their state per year. Fees range $1.00 to $10.00 per vehicle.

Also, if you are a moving company, you may not operate until you also publish your Tariff. You do not need to file your Interstate Tariff with the government but you must make it available to representatives of the US Surface Transportation Board and the public upon demand. Certain states, such as New York, may require that you file your Tariff.

For much more info on the laws and how you can comply, click on the website.

For comparable information in the UK visit BusinessLink.

Members from Canada may visit this website.