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Glossary of Frequently Used Terms

A

Authorized For-Hire Motor Carrier

A person or company engaged in the transportation of goods or passengers for compensation. Authorized for hire carriers need to obtain operating authority (MC number) in addition to a USDOT Number.

B

Bus

Any motor vehicle designed primarily to transport nine or more persons, including the driver.

C

CDL Driver

A driver holding a CDL.

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A type of driver's license required to operate large or heavy vehicles. Requires a higher level of knowledge, experience, skills, and physical abilities than that required to drive a non-commercial vehicle. CDL holders are held to a higher standard when operating any type of vehicle on public roads.

Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)

A motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used in commerce to transport passengers or property. See 49 CFR 383.5 and 49 CFR 390.5.

D

Domicile

Headquarters location of a motor carrier.

Driver

Any person who operates any commercial motor vehicle.

E

Exempt For Hire

An exempt for-hire motor carrier transports exempt (unregulated) property owned by others for compensation. The exempt commodities usually include unprocessed or unmanufactured goods, fruits and vegetables, and other items of little or no value.

F

Fleet Size

A motor carrier declares the number of commercial motor vehicles that the company uses in its U.S. operations.

Freight Carrier Type

A motor carrier that transports freight only (not passengers).

H

HM Cargo Tank Trailers

A motor vehicle designed to be drawn by another motor vehicle and designed to transport hazardous material.

HM Cargo Tank Truck

A commercial motor vehicle designed specifically to haul hazardous liquids or gases using a cylinder-shaped, horizontal cargo bay.

Hazardous Materials (HM)

A substance or material which has been determined by the Secretary of Transportation to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and which has been so designated.

Hazmat Carrier Type

A motor carrier that transports hazardous material and is subject to the SMS HM threshold business rules.

Hazmat Safety Permit (HMSP)

Permit required for intrastate, interstate, and foreign motor carriers transporting certain types and amounts of hazardous materials. These carriers must maintain a certain level of safety in their operations and certify they have programs in place as required by the Hazardous Materials Regulations and the HM Permit regulations.

Household Goods Carrier Type

A motor carrier that registers as a household good carrier and has active household goods authority.

I

Interstate HM Motor Carrier

A motor carrier engaged in transportation of any amount of hazardous material across State lines, including international boundaries; or (2) within one State as part of a through movement that originates or terminates in another State or country.

Interstate Motor Carrier

A motor carrier engaged in transportation of passengers or property across State lines, including international boundaries; or (2) within one State as part of a through movement that originates or terminates in another State or country.

Intrastate Non-HM Motor Carrier

A motor carrier engaged in transportation of passengers or property entirely within one State that is not part of a through movement that originates or terminates in another State or country.

L

Limousine

A passenger vehicle designed or used to transport 15 or fewer passengers, including the driver.

M

MCS-150 Form

Motor Carrier Identification Report (MCS-150) is required to apply for a USDOT number and must be updated at least every two years.

Mexican Certificate Carrier

A Mexico-domiciled motor carrier that transports exempt commodities or operates as a private motor carrier. These motor carriers were issued authority to operate trucks throughout the United States prior to 2002.

Mexican Commercial Zone Carrier

A Mexico-domiciled motor carrier that has authority to operate its trucks only within the U.S.-Mexico border commercial zones in the United States.

Mexican Enterprise Carrier

A Mexican-owned motor carrier that is domiciled in the United States; operates in the United States, conducting cross-border transportation of international cargo that originates in or is destined for a foreign country; and is subject to all U.S., State, and local laws pertaining to motor carrier operations and their vehicles.

Mexican Long Haul Carrier

A Mexico-domiciled motor carrier that has authority to engage in long-haul transportation as a common carrier of property (except household goods and HM) by motor vehicle in interstate or foreign commerce in or beyond the commercial zones of the United States.

Minibus

A motor vehicle designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, and typically built on a small truck chassis. A mini-bus has a smaller seating capacity than a motor coach.

Motor Carrier

A for-hire or private motor carrier. For purposes of this website, all carriers are 'active' with updated registration information within 24 months.

Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS)

An FMCSA system that contains crash, census, and inspection files created to monitor and develop safety standards for commercial motor vehicles operating in interstate commerce.

Motorcoach

A passenger vehicle with an elevated passenger deck over the baggage compartment, usually designed for long distance transportation of passengers, and often equiped with storage racks above the seats.

Motorcoach Carrier Type

A motor carrier registered to transport passengers and meets the MAP21 motorcoach definition.

N

New Entrant

A motor carrier not domiciled in Mexico that applies for a United States Department of Transportation (DOT) identification number in order to initiate operations. A carrier is considered a new entrant for its first 18 months on the road.

O

"Other" Country

Includes all non-U.S., non-Mexico, and non-Canadian countries where a motor carrier is domiciled.

"Other" Operation Classification

A motor carrier registered to transport property and/or passengers and is characterized as one or more of the following: migrant, U.S. mail, Federal government, State government, local government, Indian tribe, other.

P

Passenger Carrier Type

A motor carrier that transports passengers and meets the FMCSA Safety Measurement System (SMS) passenger carrier threshold business rules.

Power Unit

Power units are the number of vehicles a carrier owns, trip-leases, or term-leases.

Private Motor Carrier

Provides private interstate transportation of property or passengers in furtherance of a commercial enterprise and is not available to the public at large.

S

School Bus

A CMV used to transport pre-primary, primary, or secondary school students from home to school, from school to home, or to and from school-sponsored events. School bus does not include operations of a for-hire motor carrier.

Service Centers

The regional field organizations delivering FMCSA program services to Agency partners and customers. The FMCSA's State Division offices are organized into four regional Service Centers.

Straight Truck

A truck, generally one half the size and capacity of a tractor-trailer. Straight trucks are single cab and body vehicles (as opposed to a tractor-trailer on which the cab can be separated from the trailer).

T

Trailer

A motor vehicle designed to be drawn by another motor vehicle.

Truck

Any self-propelled commercial motor vehicle except a truck tractor, designed and/or used for the transportation of property.

Truck Tractor

A self-propelled commercial motor vehicle designed and/or used primarily for drawing other vehicles.

U

US Domiciled Motor Carrier

A motor carrier domiciled in the 50 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories.

USDOT Number

Companies that operate commercial vehicles transporting passengers or hauling cargo in interstate commerce must be registered with the FMCSA and must have a USDOT Number. Also, commercial intrastate hazardous materials carriers who haul types and quantities requiring a safety permit must register for a USDOT Number. The USDOT Number serves as a unique identifier when collecting and monitoring a company's safety information acquired during audits, compliance reviews, crash investigations, and inspections. Apart from federal regulations, some States require their intrastate commercial motor vehicle registrants to obtain a USDOT Number.

V

Van

A small motor vehicle designed or used to transport 15 or fewer passengers, including the driver.
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