Even if you are an owner-operator, you need to have a plan. Determine your company name, where you’ll operate and the type of freight you’ll carry; identify who your customers are and how you will reach them. Develop a detailed budget and outline the strategies you will use to grow your trucking company. Obtain an Employer Identification Number from the IRS; banks typically require it to open an account for your trucking company. Additionally, if you intend to hire employees, you must obtain both unemployment and worker’s compensation insurance; use the resources at Texas.gov for assistance acquiring both.
Most requirements to open a trucking company in Texas, like industry expertise and a sound planning, are both crucial to success and universal to starting any small business. You must obtain a business license and tax permits from the state, as well as adhere to Texas law governing the markings on your truck or fleet. However, the U.S Department of Transportation regulates trucking companies, also known as carriers, and many of the licensing requirements are federal.
Register Your Trucking Company
Your business structure determines how and where you register your business; sole proprietors or general partners must obtain a DBA, doing business as or assumed name, from the county where your trucking company is located. Limited partnerships and all corporations are required to file their business registration with the Texas Secretary of State.
The type of truck you lease or purchase depends on where you drive and what you carry. A site such as DC Truck and Equipment Sales (dctruckandequipment.com) lists used 2,000-gallon water trucks for as low as $20,500 and used long-haul vehicles between $20,000 and $40,000 at the time of publication. New trucks can cost in excess of $125,000. Be aware Texas is a dual inspection state; your vehicle must pass both safety and emissions inspections. The model year of your truck also determines the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan surcharge rate you are required to pay. Trucks made prior to 1996 pay 2.5 percent of the purchase price. Newer vehicles pay only 1.5 percent.
All trucking companies are required to register with and obtain a U.S. Department of Transportation number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You must have proof of insurance to complete this and other applications for federally required permits. If you intend to operate outside of Texas, you must also file an International Registration Plan detailing where you will travel and approximating the number of miles you will drive in any given state. Additionally, you must apply for an International Fuel Tax sticker and a Unified Carrier Registration permit, which allows you to carry cargo across state lines.
Ensure you have the required signage on your truck; in Texas, you need your company name, your USDOT issued numbers, your truck number, terminal location and the last eight digits of the truck’s VIN. You must also display your Texas safety and emissions inspection stickers. Federal law requires every truck to contain a logbook with copies of all the vehicle’s documentation. Compile it and you are ready to open a trucking company in Texas.
- IRS EIN Application
- Texas.gov: Business and Professional Services
- Texas Secretary of State: About the Corporations Section
- DC Truck and Equipment Sales
- Window on State Government: Texas Taxes, Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Surcharge
- US Department of Transportation: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
- Texas Department of Transportation: Motor Carrier Industry Links
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