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  • Writer's pictureFront Range Compliance

Commercial Vehicle Markings

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires commercial motor vehicles (CMV) to have specific markings displayed on the outside of their vehicle. The specific wording by the FMCSA is laid out in 49 CFR 390.21.

Red Semi Truck

One of the most common questions people have when getting started in the trucking industry, especially from owner-operators, is, "What size do the letters and numbers need to be on the side of my vehicle?" Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question as the FMCSA doesn't designate the measurement.


However, the FMCSA does designate the required markings as follows. Every CMV, as defined in CFR 390.5, greater than 10,000 lbs GVWR must be marked and display the following information:

  1. The legal name of the motor carrier operating the CMV, listed on the motor carrier identification report (Form MCS-150).

  2. Vehicles with a GVWR of 16,000 lbs or more should have the last 8 digits of the VIN listed both sides of the vehicle.

  3. The motor carrier identification number, otherwise known as USDOT number, preceded by "USDOT".

    • Intrastate only carriers must have their state abbreviation following the USDOT number (Colorado - CO, Texas - TX, Arizona - AZ, etc.)

    • i.e. USDOT 1234567 CO

The marking must:

CMV Marking example
  1. Appear on both sides of the vehicle.

  2. Be in letters that contrast sharply in color with the background on which the letters are placed.

  3. Be readily legible during daylight hours, from a distance of 50 feet.

  4. Be kept and maintained in a manner that retains the legibility of the above requirements.

The markings can be applied to the vehicle in any way that maintains the requirements listed above.


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