Rules for Having Commercial Plates in New Jersey

Day cab white big rig semi truck with chrome fenders transporting cargo in dry van semi trailer running in convoy behind another semi truck driving on the interstate highway road
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In the state of New Jersey, a commercial license plate is one fixed to a commercial vehicle. Such a motor vehicle is designed, used or maintained primarily to transport people or property. A commercial truck or car must be registered as such with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC).

Commercial fees vary according to the type of vehicle, not the number of axles on the vehicle. For example, the fee is $540 for a standard semitruck at around 35,000 pounds. The fee is $81.50 for an omnibus, or traditional route bus, that carries between one and 18 passengers.

How to Get Commercial Plates in New Jersey

Vehicles used for business purposes, from limousines to small vans and trucks, are required to have commercial plates. In order to get such license plates, the owner should apply for them when they engage in vehicle registration. Commercial plates mark a vehicle as one used for business.

The steps of vehicle registration include scheduling an appointment and bringing the required documents to the MVC office. These include:

  • Vehicle title.
  • Driver’s license or other form of ID.
  • New Jersey insurance card or company name and policy number.
  • Completed Vehicle Registration Application Form (Form BA-49).
  • Completed power of attorney form if a person other than the purchaser signs the documents.
  • Dealer reassignment documentation if applicable.
  • Lien holder information and financing statement if the vehicle is leased or financed.

If the purchaser of the vehicle is a company or business, the owner must also provide the MVC Entity Identification Number (EIN). If the vehicle was purchased at auction and is not titled, the owner will need:

  • Last previously issued registration document.
  • Notarized bill of sale.
  • Pencil tracing or photograph of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate.

Out-of-state Transfers to the Garden State

If the vehicle was transferred from a state that issues titles, but the title has no New Jersey Dealer Tax Stamp, the owner will need a purchase order. If the vehicle was transferred from a state that doesn’t issue titles, the owner will need:

  • Pencil tracing or photo of the VIN.
  • Notarized statement from the seller that includes the year the vehicle was manufactured and the make, VIN and selling price of the vehicle.
  • Last vehicle registration card from the seller.

Vehicle Titling Fees

The owner must also pay a titling fee for the vehicle:

  • $60 standard.
  • $85 for a financed vehicle with one lien.
  • $110 for a financed vehicle with two liens.

Further, the owner must pay the registration fee, which includes the commercial license plates and the sales tax fee.

Fees for Various Commercial Motor Vehicles

The list of commercial vehicles in New Jersey includes:

  • Commercial trucks and trailers.
  • Taxis.
  • Aggregate haulers, vehicles used to haul aggregate like ready-mix cement or stone.
  • School buses.
  • Commercial trailers.
  • Commercial motorcycles.
  • Farm trucks.
  • Tow trucks.
  • Agricultural tractors.

Some of the categories are quite broad. The category of commercial trucks and tractors is defined as every type of motorized vehicle used to transport goods, wares and merchandise. A heavy-use commercial vehicle is one registered as 55,000 lbs. or more. It's owner must upload the Heavy Use Tax Form (2290) for online renewal.

A commercial truck or tractor must have plates that display the word “commercial.” The numerals must be prefixed by the letter “X” or any other prefix designated by the chief administrator of the MVC.

Fees for Vehicles Categorized as Taxis

The category of taxi includes all motor vehicles used for the transportation of passengers for hire, but excludes school buses, omnibuses and limousines. The plates must be ones used for taxis or display the word “taxicab.”

The applicant must present an original letter of authorization or certificate from the local municipality where the vehicle will be operated. The applicant should upload the letter of authorization or certificate for online renewal.

Certain categories of vehicles, like taxis, have a standard fee, here $81.50, no matter how much the vehicle weighs.

Vehicles with Fees that Vary by Weight

Commercial trucks and tractors have fees that vary according to weight, from $105 for a vehicle between zero and 5,000 lbs. to $1,267.50 for a vehicle of 80,000 lbs. The categories of vehicles with fees that vary according to weight include:

  • Commercial trucks and tractors.
  • Small vans and trucks.
  • Aggregate haulers.
  • Commercial motorcycles.
  • Farm trucks.
  • Light/medium duty tow trucks.
  • Heavy-duty trucks.
  • Solid waste trucks.
  • Constructors, specially constructed or modified vehicles like racing cars.
  • Farm labor transport vehicles.

Certain categories of vehicles such as those used to transport solid waste must have two sets of plates and two registrations for the vehicle. Both sets of plates must be displayed on the vehicle, and both registrations must be carried in the vehicle at all times.

Vehicles with Fees that Vary by Length

Some categories of vessels like boats have fees according to length. These include:

  • Limousine boats.
  • Dealer boats.
  • Manufacturer boats.
  • Commercial boats.

A commercial plate for a trailer must bear the prefix letter “T.”

Additional Requirements for Commercial Vehicles

Many commercial vehicles other than farm vehicles must display other information beyond commercial plates. The necessary information includes:

  • U.S. Department of Transportation number on both sides of the vehicle, using contrasting colors and visible up to 50 feet.
  • Business’ legal trade name on both sides, using contrasting colors and visible up to 50 feet.
  • Municipality of the principal place of business, displayed conspicuously with contrasting colors and with letters 3 inches high.
  • Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). This may be the value specified by the manufacturer as the maximum loaded weight of a single or combination (articulated) vehicle or the registered gross weight, whichever is greater.

An articulated vehicle is a vehicle with a pivot joint, which allows the vehicle to turn more sharply. A bus is an example of an articulated vehicle.

Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Needed

A person who drives certain types of vehicles used for business purposes, such as semitrucks and aggregate haulers, must have a commercial driver's license. A CDL holder is required to be 18 or older and to have a basic New Jersey driver’s license, Class D.

Further, a CDL holder must have at least 20/40 vision in each eye with or without glasses, be able to recognize the colors red, green and amber, and be physically fit. This means completing the CDL Holder Self-Certification and if applicable a valid medical examiner certificate.