How To Start a Trucking Company

In 2019, roughly 68% of the goods moved between Canada and the U.S. were delivered by trucks. One good look at a busy interstate will tell you that the demand for trucking is at an all-time high. This begs the question: how to start a trucking company?
In this article, we’ll go over five steps to establish a trucking company that’s legally compliant and ready to hit the roads. We’ll cover permits, paperwork, insurance, and other important factors to consider before setting up your businesss.

Five Steps to Start a Trucking Company

Here are all the requirements needed to start a successful trucking company.

Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License

Before you consider becoming an owner-operator or starting up a trucking company, you need to obtain a valid CDL.
This is the first requirement of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Obtaining a CDL isn’t difficult, but you’ll need to pass the knowledge and vision exams. You’ll also need to pass a driving exam and an inspection before you receive the license.
Keep in mind that you can technically run a trucking company without having a CDL. This means you won’t be an owner-operator and you’ll have to hire subcontractors to drive your trucks.
We strongly recommend you not only obtain a CDL but also gain some driving experience before starting a trucking company.

Register Your Trucking Business

Once you’ve obtained your license, all you need to do now is choose your company’s name and establish your business entity.

Choose a Unique Name

Unleash your creative imagination and choose a unique name for your company. Remember, the more it showcases your company’s personality and brand, the more it’ll appeal to potential clients.
Once you settle on a name, search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark website to verify that no one has used your name before.
If you can’t find an appealing name, use an AI-powered company name generator to come up with the perfect name for your business.

Establish Your Business Type

There are several business entities you can choose from before starting the paperwork. It’s imperative you consult a tax accountant to determine the best type for your business.
These are the most common structures for trucking companies:
  • Corporation
  • Limited liability corporation (LLC)
  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
Generally speaking, business entities differ in taxation methods and personal liability protection. Forming an LLC will protect your personal assets and offer some tax advantages. There are different types of LLCs depending on several factors.
Some people file sole proprietorship if they’re starting a self-owned, one-man trucking business. It’s the cheaper option when filing taxes. However, if someone sues you, you risk compromising your personal assets.
Once you decide on the business type, you’ll need to start some paperwork. This will include submitting supporting documentation, tax ID information, and other business agreements.

Appoint Process Agents

Process agents are essential for starting a trucking company. They’re the ones that legally represent your company when submitting the court papers. They’ll also complete most of your paperwork and help you with other legal requirements.
If you think you can handle the paperwork by yourself, you’ll still need to appoint a process agent. Process agents are a requirement by the FMCSA and you can’t file the court papers without one. You’ll also need a process agent for every state you operate in.

Finish the Paperwork

Here are some of the most important compliance standards required by the FMCSA:
  • Motor Carrier Number (MC#)
  • USDOT Number
  • Employment Identification Number (EIN)
  • BOC-3 Form
  • International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)
  • Operating Authority permit
  • International Registration Plan (IRP)
There are many legal requirements in the trucking industry. Depending on your state, there will be several other permits and licenses you need to obtain before you start operating.
You can also get someone to assist you with all the regulations and handle the paperwork. DAT Authority is among the leading services to help you obtain licensure and handle your tax reporting.
Before you move on to the next step, it’s crucial to make sure you’ve laid out the foundations of your business operations. This will include accounting, invoicing, and payroll.

Get Insured

Before you get licensed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, you’ll need to get business insurance for your company. According to the FMCSA, roughly 60,000 large trucks were involved in crashes that resulted in damages and injuries.
Insuring your company will protect you from damages and injuries. You’ll need a minimum of $750,000 in cargo insurance and general liability. Some insurance providers can require up to $5 million in coverage.
Take your time before deciding on an insurance provider. It’s important to consult your lawyer at this stage to make sure you’re compliant with all insurance requirements.

Buy/Lease Trucks

Once your company is up and running, all you need to do now is choose the right truck. This will depend on several factors, including:
  • New or used
  • Weight limit
  • Price
  • Weather resistance
  • Cab style
There are a lot of brands for you to consider. Generally, truck drivers prefer Peterbilt, Kenworth, and Freightliner. You can look for a nearby dealership and take the one you like for a test drive. Whether you plan to start off with one truck or buy a whole fleet will depend on your budget.
Next comes the crucial part, how you’ll pay for the truck(s). Buying is obviously the better option, provided you have the cash ready. Leasing is another attractive option, especially for new small business owners.
If you decide to lease the trucks, you’ll have to choose between either:
  • Full-service lease
  • Lease-purchase plans
  • TRAC lease
Choosing one of these options will depend on the amount of downpayment you’re willing to put up and your credit score.


Becoming a business owner comes with a lot of challenges. It can be an extremely rewarding pathway once you start adding trucks and drivers. However, it also comes with huge responsibilities.
Take your time with the business plan. Calculate your company’s cost-per-mile and make sure you maintain a strong work ethic. Soon enough, this will all be worth the venture.