How to Start Hotshot Trucking? Follow the Guide

How to Start Hotshot Trucking? Follow the Guide

Many drivers begin their careers in hotshot trucking. Below will tell you “how to start hotshot trucking”? As a new venture hotshot trucker there are many start-up requirements you may need, including:

  1. DOT Medical Exam for Medical Card
  2. Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  3. USDOT Number and MC Number
  4. Commercial Insurance
  5. BOC-3 Process Filing Agent
  6. IFTA Registration (if applicable)
  7. DOT Compliance

Keep reading.

What is Hotshot Trucking?

A hotshot truck driver tows cargo with a flatbed trailer and a pickup truck. The majority of the cargo that hotshot truckers transport is machinery, LTL (less-than-truckload) cargo, agricultural and construction equipment, and other urgent loads that must be delivered to a single customer quickly.

The commercial truck classes 3, 4, and 5 include hotshot trucks. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle establishes each class.

Heavy-duty pickups, box vans, and walk-in trucks are all considered to be part of class three. Large passenger vans, city delivery trucks, and some super-duty pickups are categorized as Class 4 vehicles. Class five, which is the last, includes bigger walk-ins, delivery trucks, and bucket trucks.


  • Class 3 = 10,001 – 14,000 lb.
  • Class 4 is 14,001 to 16,000 lbs.
  • Class 5 is 16,001–19,500 lb.

Hotshot trucks are typically pickup trucks with a weight-distributing gooseneck or cab-chassis rigs weighing between three-quarter and one and a half tons. Many people think that Texas-based drivers who transported crucial components to oil drilling and pumping operations are where hotshot trucking first became popular.

How to Start Hotshot Trucking Follow the Guide
How to Start Hotshot Trucking? Follow the Guide

How Do I Start a Hotshot Trucking Business?

Make sure to create a thorough business plan before the procedure starts that includes a list of your salary, the cost of buying or leasing a vehicle and trailers, as well as any necessary licenses, insurance, and registration, as well as the anticipated revenue for your company.

As a new venture hotshot trucker there are many start-up requirements you may need, including:

  1. DOT Medical Exam for Medical Card
  2. Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  3. USDOT Number and MC Number
  4. Commercial Insurance
  5. BOC-3 Process Filing Agent
  6. IFTA Registration (if applicable)
  7. DOT Compliance

If you are a short-haul (intrastate) trucking carrier, you mostly stay within a 150 air-mile radius and report back to the same location to end your day. These businesses typically operate locally, and it is a desirable way to recruit new drivers who want to arrive home every night.

However, you might have more latitude in terms of where and what you can haul. You will need a CDL to haul across state lines (interstate) or outside of the short-haul barrier, which leads to a few more requirements before getting started.

DOT Physical and Medical Card

Make sure you are eligible to drive a truck before even attempting to create your own LLC.

Everyone who intends to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), including hotshot drivers, must comply with this requirement as stipulated by federal law.

Make sure to arrange a DOT physical examination with a reputable medical professional. A DOT physical is a test of your general health, mental, and emotional well-being and will include:

  • urinalysis
  • blood pressure/pulse rate
  • vision test
  • hearing test
  • physical examination

Our Certified Medical Examiner (CME) provides DOT exams at our Lititz, Pennsylvania location, and we also provide mobile DOT physicals.

Federal Employer Identification Number

The Employer Identification Number (EIN) is the next thing you must get. An EIN is a special nine-digit number that the Internal Revenue Service issues to businesses in the US.

You will use this number to file your business tax return, open a business bank account, and receive payments from customers.

No matter what state you are in, our DOT Licensing Specialists can help you create your EIN. We can also assist you in determining the type of business entity you want to operate as, such as an LLC, partnership, corporation, S-Corp, etc.

USDOT Number And/or Motor Carrier Number

You might require a USDOT number or both a USDOT number and a Motor Carrier (MC) Number, depending on what your business will be doing.

Companies that operate commercial vehicles transporting passengers or hauling cargo in interstate commerce must be registered with the FMCSA and require a USDOT Number.

You will also need a USDOT Number if you plan to haul hazardous materials commercially intrastate for types and quantities requiring a safety permit.

In addition, companies are required to have both a DOT number and an interstate operating authority (MC Number) if they do any of the following tasks:

  • Operate as for-hire carriers (for fee or other compensation)
  • Transport passengers in interstate commerce (or arrange for their transport)
  • Transport federally regulated commodities in interstate commerce (or arrange for their transport)

The most crucial prerequisite to activate your DOT Number and/or MC Number after you establish your own authority is commercial trucking insurance.

Hotshot Commercial Insurance Coverages

There are five essential hotshot insurance policies for businesses that can be tailored to meet your unique needs and are essential for protecting your company.

As a hotshot trucker starting a new business, you must meet numerous licensing requirements, and the licensing regulations impose insurance liability requirements on businesses.

For instance, primary auto liability, also known as The FMCSA mandates that you have bodily injury physical damage (BIPD) coverage with a minimum limit of $750,000 in order to be granted MC authority.

The 5 critical insurance coverages needed for your hotshot company are:

  1. Primary auto liability – $750,000 minimum
  2. Non-trucking liability
  3. Cargo coverage – $100,000 minimum (recommended)
  4. Physical damage coverage
  5. Uninsured motorist insurance

Few insurance companies will offer a commercial insurance quote to a brand-new trucking business. Progressive, we discover, frequently provides the most competitive startup insurance quotes.

See your commercial insurance rates by requesting several quick quotes from our sister company, CNS Insurance.

Non-trucking Liability: All time spent in a truck isn’t billable, but it is insurable. You require insurance coverage when using your truck for non-business purposes. When trucks are used for non-business purposes, non-trucking liability insurance provides liability protection in the event that someone is injured or their property is damaged.

Cargo coverage ensures the contents of the trailer, temperature-control machinery, and other appliances or accessories that keep cargo secure. Coverage is custom and calculated based on the type of commodities hauled and the requirements of the shipper.

Physical damage coverage: Any time you drive, you are exposed to risk. A collision or other disaster could cause damage to your truck. It might get stolen or destroyed. Any of these problems could render your truck inoperable and jeopardize your company. Although it is not necessary for your truck to have collision insurance, it does provide 24-hour coverage for harm to your tractor or trailer if your car is leased.

Uninsured motorist coverage: This coverage will cover your injuries if you or your truck/trailer are hurt in an accident caused by someone whose auto insurance is insufficient to cover your damages.

File a BOC-3 (interstate Carriers)

In order to activate your motor carrier authority in the US, a BOC-3 filing is necessary. If a court order needs to be delivered to your company by a different state in the future, this filing designates legal agents. Prior to receiving federal operating authorization in the US, it is necessary.

For a BOC-3 filing, CNS does not charge an annual fee, in contrast to many of our rivals.

Get An International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) Sticker (interstate Carrier)

This pact, which unites the lower 48 states and the provinces of Canada, makes it easier for motor carriers that operate in several different countries to report their fuel usage. Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories of Canada are excluded.

For each eligible vehicle, an operating carrier with IFTA is given two decals and an IFTA license. A quarterly fuel tax report is submitted by the carrier. In this report, the net tax or refund owed is calculated, and taxes are then redistributed from collecting states to states where they are actually owed.

Keeping track of all the requirements, receipts, mileage logs, etc. can be complicated, which is why our Your IFTA fuel taxes will be filed by DOT Compliance Specialists on your behalf.

How to Start Hotshot Trucking Follow the Guide
How to Start Hotshot Trucking? Follow the Guide

Become DOT Compliant

You must now comply with the FMCSA. Throughout the year, these items need to be maintained.

To avoid any problems during an audit, you must maintain perfect records. These driver files contain information such as MVR reports, inquiries about prior employers, PSP reports, and more.

If you possess a commercial driver’s license, you must submit to a pre-employment drug test and join a DOT drug and alcohol consortium.

We at CNS are excited for your new venture to become reality. We’re here to help you navigate the path towards starting your hotshot trucking company.

We recommend that you begin with our DOT Essentials Program, and our DOT compliance specialists are available to help you get up and running as soon as possible. One of the most popular DOT Compliance Programs used by our clients is the DOT Essentials Program, which includes many of the filings and registrations mentioned above.

Hotshot Trucking Vs. Driving a Semi: the Difference

The tools needed and the prerequisite education are where these two trucking jobs diverge most. As mentioned above, hotshot truckers do not operate commercial tractor-trailers. They operate pickups or other vehicles with trailers.

Hotshot Trailer Types

Semi-truck drivers pull large trailers such as 53′ enclosed temperature-controlled trailers, step deck trailers and bulk liquid trailers. Hotshot drivers may tow lowboy, tilt deck, gooseneck, bumper pull, or other trailers with their pickup.

  • Gooseneck trailers can carry heavier loads and are known for their stability and tighter turn radius. A unique hitch is necessary for these trailers.
  • Tilt deck trailers use a hydraulic system to move the trailer for easier loading and unloading. The trailer can be tilted back to flat when you’re ready to resume driving.
  • Bumper pull trailers are shorter than other trailers and less expensive. Bump pull trailers are less expensive to purchase but are less capable of towing heavier loads. They work best for loads that weigh less than 10,000 lbs.
  • Dovetail trailers are made for hauling cars or equipment with wheels. Be cautious when driving up steep inclines because these kinds of trailers hang low in the back.
  • Lowboy trailerswork well for heavy loads because of their low center of gravity. They are useful for moving tall loads as well. You can overcome some height limitations because they are lower to the ground.


The requirements are less stringent to become a hotshot driver. Depending on the freight you intend to transport, you may need specific qualifications.

All hotshot drivers need a valid Class D driver’s license, the standard driver’s license for most citizens. For freight loads under 10,000 lbs, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is not required. for objects weighing more than 10,000 lb., you must have a CDL.

The types of loads you can haul as a hotshot driver are limited if you don’t have a CDL. Many hotshot drivers continue to get their CDL to be eligible for more jobs. If you want to drive a semi-truck, obtaining your CDL opens up more opportunities and positions you for the future.

Advantages of Hotshot Trucking

If you want to start a career in transportation, hotshot trucking is one way to do it. Before operating a tractor-trailer, many semi-truck drivers hotshot to get a feel for the situation. Hotshot truck driving is a fairly simple profession to enter, and there will always be a need for this kind of transportation.

The advantages of becoming a hotshot driver include:

  • startup costs that are less expensive. Hotshot trucking requires less expensive equipment. Semi-truck payments are more expensive than pickup truck payments. Compared to a semi-truck owner-operator, you will also have less expensive commercial insurance if you are a hotshot driver.
  • Good income. Hotshot Freight offers consistent work. There will always be a need for transporting LTL loads and heavy machinery. Since these deliveries are frequently urgent, the cost of transportation may increase. Hotshot trucking fees range from $1 to $2 per mile.
  • More home time.Since they haul locally, hotshot drivers are at home more frequently. In one state or a group of states, they deliver time-sensitive freight. Greater home time results from shorter distances.
  • Builds experience.You can learn to drive and become familiar with federal regulations with Hotshot Trucking’s assistance. Tractor-trailer laws and many hotshot driving laws overlap. The FMCSA’s hours of service, which also apply to short commercial hauls, are one example. Having daily driving experience also gives you insight into the lifestyle of a semi-truck driver, which can help you decide if that is a profession you would enjoy.

Disadvantages of Hotshot Trucking

Hotshot trucking offers a compromise for those who want to be their own bosses but aren’t ready to invest in semi-trucks. The downside of hotshot trucking on your own is that you are responsible for equipment maintenance and finding loads.

  • More frequent maintenance is required.Your equipment becomes worn out after a lot of running. Due to the intensive use of their vehicles, hotshot drivers should budget for more frequent oil changes and repairs. Many hotshot drivers own their own companies or are independent contractors. Since they are solely responsible, these drivers must budget and plan for maintenance expenses.
  • Operating authority expense. Obtaining and renewing your operating authority can be time-consuming and expensive. Hotshot drivers must be ready to apply for, maintain, and budget for the operating authority they require. Most experienced semi-truck drivers are unconcerned about that. Owner-operators frequently use their company’s operating authority, as do company semi-truck drivers.
  • Jobs are competitive. The job market can be extremely competitive for hotshot drivers. Many drivers are willing to take on the challenge of hauling freight quickly. To establish yourself as a dependable driver, you must have the perseverance to see things through.
  • Find loads on your own.Contrary to company semi-truck drivers, the majority of hotshot drivers locate loads and organize hauls on their own. Planning your schedule and making sure you have plenty of loads is up to you unless you work for a hotshot trucking company. This level of autonomy is appealing to some drivers. It’s possible that other drivers would prefer more assistance.

Final Thoughts: How to Start Hotshot Trucking?

In the end, there isn’t a magic formula for hot shot trucking; all it takes is time and experience to become successful. Having said that, you can make wise business decisions and ensure that your business is well-supported and ready to succeed if you have a solid strategy and utilize the appropriate tools.

Please leave a comment if you have any queries. I appreciate your reading.

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