How to start a commercial trucking business

How much does it cost to start a commercial trucking business?

Whether you have a passion for trucking, or you’re a self-starting entrepreneur who’s always looking for a new opportunity, starting and owning your own commercial trucking business can provide you with an exceptionally rewarding experience.

How to start a commercial trucking business

Before you even begin considering whether owning and operating a commercial trucking company is right for you, you probably want to know what kind of capital you need to get started. The basic lowest cost to start a commercial trucking business is around $20,000. (leasing your truck) and can go up to around $200,000 or more.

$25,000 will cover a full year of equipment leasing including insurance and fuel taxes, as well as all of the required registrations you need to get your business and vehicle/s legal. Of course, you can get started with a little less or a lot more, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Like you, I also wanted to know how much it costs to start (and run!) a commercial trucking business, and so I did my own research and decided to organize the information that I found into this blog post. I hope that this information will help anyone who is passionate about trucking or anyone who wants to start their own trucking business.

There are a variety of costs associated with starting a trucking company, including a number of fees that correspond to required certifications, registrations, and documents.

Below is a short list of must-haves before you can legally or physically even get started:

MC Number and/or US-DOT Number $300
BOC-3 Processing + Agent fee $20 — $40 (depending on agent)
Business Registration $50 — $500 (varies by state)
Unified Carrier Registration $69 (for 0 to 2 vehicles)
Trucking Insurance $1500 — $12000 annually
IRP Credential and IFTA Decal $~1710 + $10 annually
CDL (Commerical Driver License) $3,000 — $8,000 (if necessary)
Truck & Trailer $15,000 — $175,000 (lease or purchase)
TOTAL: $21,649 — $197,629+


MC Number and/or US-DOT Number

Before you can legally operate any carrier vehicle in the U.S., you’ll need to get operating authority from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Depending on what kinds of goods you plan to transport with your vehicles, you’ll either need to an MC (motor carrier) number, or a US-DOT (United States Department Of Transportation) number.

There is currently a $300 filing fee associated with obtaining an MC or US-DOT number.

BOC-3 Processing + Agent Fee

You will also need to designate a legal agent upon which process may be served, if necessary. This needs to be handled by an agent, and so the specific fee depends on the agent you choose.

Business Registration

Like any business entity, you will need to choose how to set up your business (Limited Liability Corporation, Corporation, Incorporation, etc.)

Depending on the entity you choose and the state that you register in, the fees for this process will vary.

Unified Carrier Registration

All commercial vehicles that engage in the interstate transportation of goods must register their vehicles via UCR.

The fees for UCR vary on fleet size and weight.

Trucking Insurance

Similar to regular vehicles, drivers of commercial vehicles must also get their vehicles insured.

Also quite similar to consumer vehicle insurance, the cost of trucking insurance varies widely based on the driver’s experience level, the specific make and model of the truck, and the type of plan and carrier that you choose.

IRP Credential and IFTA Decal

IRP (International Registration Plan) credentials are required for any vehicles over 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight or have 3 or more axles on the power unit that cross state lines, while IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) is the related fuel tax decals and license for the same vehicles.

The cost of registering with IRP / IFTA is dependent upon the jurisdictional percentages and fees where apportionment is desired and the number of vehicles in the fleet.

CDL (Commerical Driver License)

Depending on whether you plan on driving yourself, or whether or not you already have a CDL, the cost for obtaining a CDL will vary by state and required training.

Truck & Trailer

Depending highly on whether you choose to outright purchase your vehicle/s or rent or lease the vehicle, the price range of a single truck can be anywhere from $15,000 to over $175,000.

You also have the option of buying used trucks. Similar to buying any regular vehicle, you need to weigh the pros and cons of buying new vehicles vs. used ones and decide if the cheaper price of the used vehicle outweighs any possible maintenance or performance issues that may arise.

With all these numbers flying around, the best thing you can do is to start with a commercial trucking business plan template that will keep you organized and get you funded. Click here to view our commercial trucking business plan template:

How much does it cost to start a trucking business?

Published by Shawn C