Maintaining a valid license, vehicle registration and insurance coverage is required drivers across the U.S. In the Lone Star State, though, you'll also need to register your vehicle with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicle's Motor Carrier Division if you plan on operating a large or commercial vehicle on state roads. While some refer to this registration as getting a DOT (Department of Transportation) number, Texas traffic laws actually require a similar, state-specific motor carrier registration known as a TxDMV number.
The state registration process involves submitting an application and paying a fee. Once you register, you're then issued a TxDMV number for your vehicle, which authorizes you to drive in the state for up to two years.
TxDMV: Texas Traffic Laws
Registration with the DMV Motor Carrier Division is required for operators of Texas commercial 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, as per Texas highway safety guidelines.
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 (this is likely where the DOT number and TxDMV number confusion lies). 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'll need to provide basic information about yourself, your vehicle and any materials you intend to haul.
The Application Process
Once you receive your federal DOT number, you're ready to request a TxDMV number from the state. Unless you're 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 – use form 1899 if you want to register for one or two years, or go with 1899T for a short-term registration of either seven or 90 days. You can obtain both these forms from the Texas DMV's website.
Completing the Form
Whether you apply online or use paper forms, you must supply basic information about yourself, your vehicle and the company for which you work if you drive commercially. You'll 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 plan to haul. Once you complete the form or online registration and submit the required fees, your insurance provider must submit proof of insurance to the Texas DMV's Motor Carrier Division either online, by mail, or by fax.
Processing Your TxDMV Number
It can take up to five business days to process your application once the Texas DMV receives it. Once it's processed, the DMV will notify you by email or mail. You'll 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. Don't lose it once it's in your hands –Texas law requires you to keep that cab card in the vehicle at all times.
Wayne Thomas earned his J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2008. He has experience writing about environmental topics, music and health, as well as legal issues. Since 2011, Thomas has also served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."