We could only wish that there was a simple answer to this question. But the fact is that the cost of starting a trucking company differs from business-to-businesses and state-to-state. The cost to start a trucking company also changes based on the type of firm you want to start, including the freight or cargo you plan to handle, the operation  you want to run, insurance coverages, equipment, and more.

New trucking company owners can invest somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 to start a small trucking company with one or two trucks.

Now, let’s break down all the possible costs to see where the money actually goes:

1. Fixed and Variable Costs:

The cost of starting a trucking company is generally divided between fixed costs and variable costs.

For instance, some of your fixed costs would include the price of your truck unit, regular maintenance, yearly permits, taxes, and insurance costs. In the same way, some of the variable expenditures would include fuel costs, various repair costs, and penalties.

In aggregate figures, about 60-70% of your operating costs come from these variables.

2. Acquiring the US DOT Number and Motor Carrier Number:

A United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Number serves as a unique identifier for companies that operate commercial vehicles to transport passengers or cargo in interstate commerce territories.

Similarly, a Motor Carrier (MC) Number identifies careers who transport regulated goods for hire in interstate commerce – or companies that haul loads in multiple states.

You can get both your USDOT Number and MC Number for $300, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

3. Business Registration:

As a new business owner, you would also need to register your business. The cost of business registration may differ from state to state.

On an average, you may require up to $500 to cover the cost of business registration.

Here’s a complete breakdown of the cost of business registration in each state:

StateLLC Filing FeeIncorporation Filing FeeCorporation Annual Report
Alabama$165$165$0
Alaska$250$250$100
Arizona$50$60$45
Arkansas$50$50$150
California$75$105$25
Colorado$50$50$10
Connecticut$175$455$100
District of Columbia$220$220$300
Delaware$140$140$225 (based on min number of authorized shares)
Florida$155$78.75$150
Georgia$100$100$50
Hawaii$50$50$15
Idaho$100$101$0
Illinois$500$175$155
Indiana$90$90$30
Iowa$50$50$45
Kansas$160$90$55
Kentucky$55$55$15
Louisiana$100$100$30
Maine$175$145$85
Maryland$155$155Min $300 (depends on revenue)
Massachusetts$520$295$135
Michigan$50$60$25
Minnesota$160$160$0
Mississippi$50$50$25
Missouri$50$58$45
Montana$70$70$15
Nebraska$120$65$26
Nevada$75$75$325
New Hampshire$100$100$100
New Jersey$125$125$50
New Mexico$50$100$25
New York$210$145$9
North Carolina$125$125$20
North Dakota$135$100$25
Ohio$125$125$0
Oklahoma$104$52$0
Oregon$100$100$100
Pennsylvania$125$125$0
Rhode Island$150$230$50
South Carolina$110$135$0
South Dakota$150$150$50
Tennessee$325$125$20
Texas$310$310(Depends on gross annual revenue)
Utah$72$72$15
Vermont$125$125$35
Virginia$104$79$100
Washington$200$200$73
West Virginia$132$82$25
Wisconsin$130$100$40
Wyoming$103$103$52
US States with their Business Registration Fee Structure

4. Getting Insurance

Insurance coverage is one the most crucial annual fixed costs. Various factors are taken into consideration while determining your total insurance costs.

Below listed are some of the primary aspects considered and accounted for by the insurers when putting your insurance premium together.

  • Age of your equipment.
  • Commodities/Goods hauled
  • And, the location of your truck

Depending on the condition of your truck, the annual insurance cost could go up to $10,000 per truck. This figure can change based on factors like type of coverage, the model, year, condition of the vehicle and the experience of the driver.

As large commercial trucks come with a need for insurance to ensure the safety of your equipment, goods and drivers – you’ll be needing two primary insurance policies for your truck.

  • Auto Insurance
  • Liability Insurance

As a new driving authority, you can expect to spend anywhere between $12,000 to $18,000 per truck for this insurance.

5. Commercial Driver’s License Endorsement (CDL)

If you don’t already have a commercial driver’s license, you’ll be needing one – If you plan to drive a commercial vehicle. It is a necessity when planning to run a trucking company.

There is no fixed CDL cost as these might differ from state to state. For instance, a CDL in Texas costs $97. You would also require to take a CDL training course to qualify for your license, which costs more than the license itself. In Texas, these classes can cost up to $4,500.


In addition, there are numerous endorsements that you (or your truck drivers) might need to add to the CDL to be able to operate and ship hazardous cargoes or specialized vehicles. Below listed are some of the endorsements you can obtain:

  • H-HAZMAT : You need this endorsement to be able to transport hazardous materials, and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 CFR part 172.

    Based on government directives, a “hazardous” material means gasses, explosives, combustible liquids, flammable liquids, and other materials that could cause harm.

    Acquiring this type of endorsement could easily cost about $100 plus an additional $87 for the TSA screening.
  • P-Passenger transport vehicle operator: This endorsement will allow you to drive over 16 passengers (including the driver). For this, drivers are required to take a 20 question test, plus a skill test.

    The average fee for this type of endorsement is $14.
  • X-Transport HAZMAT in a tanker: Acquiring this type of endorsement will allow you to operate vehicles carrying waste or hazardous materials in placarded volumes, which makes both H & N endorsements a must.

    For this, the driver needs to take a 30 question tanker test and a hazmat test. The average fee for this type of endorsement is $14.

6. How much does a truck cost? New vs. Used

One of the most significant trucking company startup costs is the truck itself. The cost of commercial vehicles can differ drastically, depending on whether you buy them new or used.

For example, a used truck can cost you between $15,000 to $1,00,000 based on its size and age. On the other hand, a new truck usually costs between $80,000 to $1,50,000.

You could also consider renting or leasing a truck but this option will cost you thousands of dollars per month that only goes towards vehicle use, not ownership.

Talking about trucks, you also need a trailer before you plan to begin operation. Similar to trucks, even trailers have various procurement options. For owner-operators on a lease, the leasing company might offer a trailer as a part of the contract.

Purchasing a trailer would add another $30,000 to $50,000 to your entire costs of starting a new trucking company.

Explore this article – https://openfr8.com/owner-operator/how-to-buy-a-semi-truck-as-an-owner-operator/ to learn more about buying a semi truck for your business.

Additional Costs of Starting A Trucking Company

Despite all compulsory costs, other additional charges could also be considered, depending on how your company would be operating. Some of these costs include;

  • BOC-3 Forms
    This form acts as evidence that you’re legally permitted to operate commercially in each state you plan to drive. It is an important permit for interstate business and typically costs about $20 to $40.
  • IRP Registration
    You must file the International Registration Plan if you intend to carry out your operations cross-country. Depending on your mileage percent in each state, the average annual cost of an IRP is $1,700.
  • HVUT
    To operate a heavy vehicle of about 55,000 pounds on public highways, you are liable to pay a heavy vehicle use tax. Your HVUT is calculated annually by computing the weight of your truck, trailer and cargo. The highest HVUT fee could be around $550 annually.

Except for the expenses mentioned above, you should also keep approximately $5,000 aside for marketing and acquiring customers. This includes building a website, setting up a social media presence, adverts, business cards, etc.

You can also consider buying a compliant and ELD solution that will help in minimizing some of the variable costs. Such as reducing fuel wastage by minimizing idling, improving driver safety, reducing potential liabilities by monitoring driver behavior and reducing administrative hassle by automating processes (such as IFTA reporting and vehicle maintenance), etc.

Summarization of all the costs involved in starting a new Trucking Company

S. No.Cost CategoryCost with a New TruckCost with a Used Truck
1For USDOT & Motor Carrier Number$300$300
2Business Registration$500$500
3Truck Insurance$12,000 – $18,000$12,000 – $18,000
4Commercial Driver’s Training course & License Cost$4,600$4,600
5Cost of a Truck$80,000 – $1,50,000$15,000 – $1,00,000
6Marketing & other costs$5,000$5,000
7Grand Total$1,02,400 – $1,58,400$37,400 – $1,43,400
All the costs are estimated in an average value
Conclusion

There are many costs associated with starting a trucking company. But, the freedom, flexibility and productivity that comes with running your own trucking business makes it a worthwhile investment.

By understanding the foremost costs of this business, this article prepares you for the financial aspect of setting up your own trucking company. However, it is important to note that these are average costs and there’s a possibility it might vary depending on different conditions.

To learn more about these costs that is involved while starting a new trucking business, visit – https://www.apexcapitalcorp.com/startup/cost-to-start-a-trucking-company/

Tushar C
Senior HR Officer at OpenFR8 | More posts

I'm a HR at OpenFR8 and a passionate blogger. Apart from my day job as HR, reading and writing books/blogs are two of my absolute favorite things to do. I like taking on new challenges and most importantly, I believe in bringing efficiency towards everything I do. I love expressing my thoughts and visions through the medium of words in the form of blogs or articles or books. Till this date, I've successfully published three short-novels on my own and will continue to do so.

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