Key Terms to manage your trucking business as an expert

April 30, 2024 News

Are you new to the world of inland transportation and feel lost when people talk about it? Would you like to learn key terms that truckers use? Don’t worry anymore! This blog is designed to help you learn the key terms for managing your trucking business.

This glossary of key terms is a comprehensive guide to the most common words used in the trucking and transport industry. You’ll find everything from basic words to more complex concepts. Whether you’re a beginner driver or just curious about the freight transport industry, you’ll find clear, precise, and updated information on everything you need to know to navigate this sector.

Our goal is to make you an expert in the trucking business. We want you to feel confident and prepared to face any challenge that comes your way, and to manage your business with a solid understanding of the regulations and requirements your transport company must meet.

Join us on this journey and discover everything you need to know to become a successful trucker! Let’s get started!

Table of Contents


Alcohol transport permit: Permit or license that trucking companies must obtain to transport alcohol. Regulations vary by state.

Annual report: The Annual Report is a mandatory requirement for all companies in the United States to remain active, including trucking companies. If this process is not completed on time, there can be penalties and a risk of company deactivation.

Apportioned plates: Plates for commercial vehicles that operate across state lines, allowing them to engage in interstate operations.

Audit: An examination of a motor carrier’s records conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT). This safety audit ensures that the carrier adheres to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

Authority: Operating authority, also known as motor carrier authority, refers to the legal authorization that allows a motor carrier to operate a commercial vehicle for hire to transport goods across state lines.

Authorized carrier: A carrier (transport company) that has received pre-approval from a shipper or broker to transport freight.

Authority letter: The final document received by transportation companies once the Motor Carrier (MC) authority is active.


Bobtail: A tractor operating independently, without a trailer. It can also refer to a straight truck.

BOC-3: It is also known as Designation of Agents for Service of Process. It is a federal document, required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), that assigns an agent to accept legal documents on behalf of a transportation or logistics company in each state where the company is authorized to do business.

Bookkeeping: The process of recording the accounting for a transportation company. It includes tracking income, expenses, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, and taxes.

Broker: An intermediary in the transportation industry. Also known as a freight broker, this individual serves as a go-between for companies responsible for shipping goods and transportation companies that move those goods.


Cab card: A document that needs to be kept in the truck’s cabin at all times, serving as proof of registration for every state where the truck is allowed to operate.

California #: A specific number assigned by the California Highway Patrol to those operating in California as their base state.

Cargo: This is a commonly used term to refer to the goods being transported in the truck.

CDL Driver: Someone who holds a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which allows them to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in the United States.

CDL License: A permit that grants individuals the right to drive and operate commercial vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds.

Certificate of Insurance (COI): This is a formal document issued by an insurance company to confirm the validity of insurance policies. This document is typically required by intermediaries such as Shippers and Brokers to ensure that their goods are being transported safely.

Clearinghouse: It is a database where the FMCSA and regulatory bodies can access real-time information about CDL drivers and learn about their drug and alcohol use. Undergoing the Clearinghouse tests is a requirement for CDL drivers, allowing them to work for a trucking company.

Commercial insurance: An insurance policy that a transportation company must have to operate legally.

Corp: Corporation. One of the available types of companies you can establish.


Data Q: It is a system operated by the FMCSA that enables trucking companies to request a review and monitor the status of Federal and State data provided by the FMCSA that is thought to be incomplete or inaccurate.

DBA: Doing Business As. One of the types of companies you can create.

Dispatcher: A person who works for a trucking company as an intermediary between drivers and shippers to organize load assignments. Additionally, they might handle various administrative tasks in the back office.

DOT: It is a governmental gency tasked with overseeing transportation management in the US.

Dry Van Truck: A commercial vehicle that transports dry cargo, products that do not require refrigeration. 

Driver: Truck driver.


EIN: Employer Identification Number. A number assigned by the IRS for tax payment purposes.

ELD: Electronic Logging Device. This is a digital device that connects to a commercial vehicle’s engine to record data such as driving time, driving hours, miles traveled, and speed limits.

EPN*: Employer Pull Notice. A program in California that allows commercial and government organizations to monitor their employees’ driving records.


Factoring: A financial arrangement where a factoring company provides trucking companies with cash in advance on their outstanding invoices, typically within 24 hours. This approach accelerates cash flow compared to traditional payment timelines.

Flatbed Truck: A commercial vehicle with an open platform that usually transports oversized and overweight loads. Also known as a lowboy.

FMCSA: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It is a division within the United States Department of Transportation responsible for overseeing the trucking industry in the United States. The FMCSA’s main objective is to lower the number of accidents, injuries, and deaths related to large trucks and buses.

Franchise Tax: Similar to the Annual Report. It is a tax on the income or capital of companies operating within certain states in the United States, including those in the trucking transportation industry.

Freight Broker Bond: A Freight Broker Bond is mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and is required to obtain a freight broker license. This bond, is also called a BMC-84 surety bond, property broker bond, trucking surety bond, or transportation broker surety bond.

Fuel Taxes: Also known as IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement).

Full Truckload (FTL): A transportation mode in which the trailer is filled with the cargo of a single supplier. Commonly known as full truckload.


Hazmat: Refers to hazardous materials as designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The transport of hazardous materials is tightly regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Hours-of-Service: Safety regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation that set limits on the hours commercial vehicle drivers can work while engaged in interstate trucking.

Highway Use Tax: The annual tax that commercial vehicle owners must pay to the IRS if their vehicle has a gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more. It’s also referred to as Form 2290.


IFTA: International Fuel Tax Agreement. It is a fuel usage tax that must be reported quarterly in April, July, October, and December.

IRP: International Registration Plan. It is a multi-state registration system operating in various U.S. states.

Income taxes: Individual taxes on income. These taxes are generally progressive, meaning that the rate at which income is taxed increases as a person earns more money.

Interstate trucking company: Trucking companies established to operate across multiple states in the U.S.

Intrastate trucking company: Trucking companies established to operate within a single state.


KYU Tax report: It is a permit that applies to trucking companies operating on Kentucky roads with a combined vehicle weight exceeding 59,999 pounds. This license is required for all commercial vehicles that meet this weight threshold and use Kentucky highways.


Less Than Truckload (LTL): A transportation mode in which the trailer space is shared with loads from different suppliers. Commonly known as less than truckload.

LLC:  Limited Liability Company. One of the types of trucking companies you can create.

Local plates: Commercial plates for vehicles operating in a single state.


MC#: Motor Carrier Number. It is the number assigned by the FMCSA to every trucking company that wants to operate across state lines.

MCP*: Motor Carrier Permit. It is a document issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Its purpose is to provide proof of registration for the CALIFORNIA #, allowing legal operation on California roads.


NM WD tax report: New Mexico Weight Distance Permit. Commercial vehicles weighing more than 26000 pounds based in or traveling to New Mexico need to obtain this permit. 


Overweight permit: A permit to transport overweight cargo.

Oversize permit: A permit to transport oversized cargo.

Oregon Trucking Permit: Oregon Trucking Permit: Commonly known as the OR WMT Permit Application, it is a requirement for commercial vehicles operating in Oregon as part of the weight mile tax program.

Owner-Operator: A truck driver who owns and operates their truck but works either under their operating authority or under the authority of another carrier with whom they have a leasing agreement.


Permit Agent: An agent, advisor, or representative who handles regulatory permits for a transportation company. This individual is skilled at advising trucking companies on permits, licenses, and taxes to ensure their documentation is always up to date.

Personal Truck Services: A company specializing in services for trucking companies in the United States.


Reefer Truck: A commercial vehicle that transports refrigerated cargo. Also known as a refrigerated truck.

Random Registration / Testing Program: A drug and alcohol testing program mandated by the DOT for all drivers working for a trucking company.

Road Tax 2290: This is the same as the Highway Use Tax, also known as Form 2290.


Safety plan: It is a mandatory safety program that all transportation companies must implement. Its purpose is to demonstrate the commitment of trucking companies to all trucking and transportation regulations.

Safety audit: It is an audit conducted by the FMCSA and regulated by the DOT, where the company’s documentation is reviewed to ensure compliance and best practices within the transportation company.

SOS Registration: The registration of a trucking company with the Secretary of State. In each state, the type of company must be registered, such as LLC, CORP, or INC.


Temporary plates permit: They are also known as paper plates. These are temporary plates that allow a truck to be driven for a few hours or a few days. They are not available in every state.

TXDMV*: Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Identification for Motor Carriers whose base of operations is in Texas.


USDOT Number: This is the identification number for a Motor Carrier or transportation company. It is the first document required to start a transportation company, but not the only one, and it is also a requirement to obtain commercial insurance.

USDOT UPDATE: An update that must be done to the USDOT number.

UCR: Unified Carrier Registration. This permit allows a company to use its logos on the truck and operate in the states covered by the organization. It expires on December 31 every year.


W9: This document contains the trucking company’s information (name, address, phone number, EIN, MC). It is typically used for a trucking company to report its taxes.

It’s important to remember that this is just a starting point. As you become more familiar with the transportation industry, you’ll learn many more terms that will make managing your company easier.

If you have questions about how to manage your trucking company’s documentation, reach out to one of our regulatory permit specialists via email . At Personal Truck Services, we are ready to help!