Maintaining a valid license, vehicle registration and insurance coverage is required of all drivers. However, in Texas, if you plan to operate a large or commercial vehicle, you need to first obtain a federal Department of Transportation Number, and then register with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, Motor Carrier Division. The state registration process involves submitting an application and paying a fee. Once you register, you are then issued a TxDMV number for your vehicle, which authorizes you to drive in the state for a certain period.
When Registration Is Required
In Texas, registration with the DMV, Motor Carrier Division, is required for operators of certain vehicles traveling on roads or highways within the state. Specifically, if your vehicle load is greater than 26,000 pounds -- or 48,000 pounds for a farm vehicle -- you must register. Registration is also required if your vehicle is designed to transport more than 15 passengers, or if you are moving hazardous materials or household goods for compensation, regardless of weight. If your vehicle falls within the criteria, you must first obtain a federal department of transportation number before you can register in Texas. You can obtain this DOT number by submitting an application online through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website. You may also print the forms and mail them to the FMCSA. On the application form, you need to provide basic information about yourself, your vehicle and any materials you intend to haul.
Once you receive your federal DOT number, you can then request a TxDMV number from the state. Unless you are operating a passenger carrier vehicle, you can complete the registration process online. However, to log into the system, you first need to call the Texas DMV office at (800) 299-1700 to request a unique identifier number (UIN) and pin. If you are a passenger carrier or would prefer to mail or fax in the forms, you must obtain and fill out form 1899 or 1899T. You should use Form 1899 if you want to register for one or two years. Use form 1899T if you are interested in only a short-term registration, either seven days or 90 days. You can obtain both these forms from the Texas DMV website.
Completing the Form
Online, and on forms 1899 and 1899T, you must supply basic information about yourself, your vehicle and the company for which you work if you are driving commercially. You will also need to provide your federal DOT number, and include insurance coverage information certifying that your policy meets the minimums required by state law, which can vary depending on your vehicle and the items you are hauling. Once you complete the form or online registration and submit the required fee, your insurance provider must submit proof of insurance to the Texas DMV, Motor Carrier Division, either electronically or by mail or fax.
It can take up to five business days to process your application once the DMV receives it. Once it's processed, the DMV will notify you by email or mail. You will also receive what is referred to as a "cab card," which indicates your permanent TxDMV number. The number will remain valid for the length of time you requested in your registration paperwork. By law, you need to keep the cab card in the vehicle at all times.