Motor Carrier Regulations

Navy blue illustration of truck and trailer

General Information

A motor carrier, in simple terms, is any business which transports people or property for hire.

In Nevada, the DMV's Motor Carrier section regulates Interstate Motor Carriers and Intrastate Common Goods Carriers. Intrastate Motor Carriers and Household Goods Movers are regulated by the Nevada Transportation Authority.

Precise definitions of the different types of carriers are outlined in Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 706. Our Vehicles in Business page contains complete information on state agencies which enforce vehicle-related regulations.

Interstate motor carriers are regulated under several sets of laws. A brief description of each type of regulation is listed below with links to sites containing details. The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles is not responsible for the content of external sites.

Commercial Driver License (CDL)

You must have a CDL to operate vehicles 26,001 pounds or heavier, vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or any vehicle which transports placarded hazardous materials. Driving records are checked nationally through the Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS).

Most Nevada DMV offices have CDL manuals available at no charge.

Apportioned Vehicle Registration

Nevada is a member of the International Registration Plan, which is a cooperative agreement for registering vehicles that travel into two or more jurisdictions (states or Canadian provinces). Each state receives a portion of a vehicle's registration fees based on the percentage of miles traveled in that state.

The home or "base" jurisdiction is responsible for registering the vehicle and collecting and disbursing various fees such as basic registration, Nevada's governmental services taxes, highway use taxes, weight taxes, etc. The advantage for the industry is that a given vehicle has to be registered only once. Apportioned registrations are issued only on the "power unit;" trailers are issued normal registrations.

Trucks registered under IRP receive an "Apportioned" license plate and a "cab card". The cab card is similar to a passenger vehicle registration slip. It identifies the vehicle, home state and license plate number, the registered maximum gross weight by jurisdiction, and all the jurisdictions in which the vehicle is properly registered. Applications are available in Motor Carrier Forms.

Truckers who do not register under IRP can get a single-trip permit to enter another state.

Special Fuel Taxes

Nevada is a member of the International Fuel Tax Agreement, which is similar to IRP and provides for payment of special fuel taxes based on the mileage driven in each jurisdiction. Truckers typically obtain an IFTA license and decals from their base jurisdiction at the same time they register their vehicles under IRP. They then file quarterly tax returns with that jurisdiction which detail the mileage driven in each state. The base jurisdiction can audit tax returns.

IFTA is somewhat more complicated than IRP. For example, say a trucker bought his fuel in California but used most of it in Nevada. He paid California's tax rate at the pump, but the State of California will have to send most of that revenue to the State of Nevada based on the trucker's next tax return. If Nevada's tax rate is higher than California's, the trucker would owe the difference. If Nevada's tax rate is lower, the trucker would be entitled to a credit or refund. Fuel tax rates vary widely by state and often change quarterly.

Fuels such as diesel, kerosene, LPG (propane), CNG (natural gas) and A55 water-phased hydrocarbon fuel used to operate most commercial vehicles on public highways are subject to Special Fuel Tax.

Taxes are not due for miles driven on non-public highways such as mining roads and roads on military bases. Fuels which are not used to operate motor vehicles are also exempt from Special Fuel Taxes and are often dyed.

Internal Revenue Service

The federal government levies a number of specific excise taxes on the trucking industry. Of special note is the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax. You must pay this tax on any vehicle over 55,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight before it can be registered.  

Search the IRS site for Form 2290 Heavy Vehicle Use Tax Return, Publication 510 Excise Taxes and Form 720 Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return.

Federal Rules and Regulations

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations apply to interstate motor carriers with vehicles having a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or combination GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more, passenger vehicles transporting more than 16 passengers (including the driver), or any size vehicle carrying placarded hazardous materials.

You need a U.S. DOT number if you are a motor carrier as described above, carry your own products or passengers, and are not for-hire. If you are a for-hire carrier (one who receives compensation for transportation) you will need an MC number and Operating Authority as well. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has online applications.

Any company that operates a truck or bus in interstate or international commerce must also comply with the Unified Carrier Registration Agreement (UCR). Nevada is a non-participating state and does not offer UCR registration services. However, Nevada-based carriers must comply with UCR and must register with a participating state. See Requirements, Fees and Contacts. Online registration is available.

Nevada Regulatory Agencies

Truckers must follow size and time restrictions on specific roadways and obtain permits for unusual loads.

In Nevada, the DMV Motor Carrier Division issues over-length, overweight and single-trip permits. The Nevada Department of Transportation issues over-dimensional permits and provides road and weather information. The Nevada State Police Highway Patrol issues amber light, emergency light and hazardous materials permits.

The Highway Patrol also enforces all commercial traffic and safety laws. Agencies such as the Transportation Authority and the Taxicab Authority regulate certain intrastate motor carriers. Visit our Vehicles in Business page.