Registration Types

Commercial vehicles owned, operated and/or used for business purposes will receive a weight appropriate license plate.

Non-commercial vehicles are used for personal use regardless of make, model or size. These vehicles are primarily designed for carrying passengers and having provisions for not more than nine (9) passengers, including the operator. Pickup trucks, SUV's and passenger vans will receive a standard issue license plate.

GVW (gross vehicle weight) - the actual weight of the vehicle plus the load, hauled and/or towed

GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) - the operating weight of the vehicle as determined by the manufacturer (The GVWR sticker is located on the driver's side door panel of a motor vehicle. The GVWR sticker on a trailer should be on the tongue of the trailer. If there is not a sticker on the trailer then use the GVWR of the truck plus the actual weight of the trailer.)

The USE of the vehicle, not the weight, determines the registration requirements.

Non-commercial passenger vehicles (cars) must be licensed with a passenger or qualifing special plate.

1. A 10,000 lb. plate shall only be issued to commercial trucks, SUV's or vans (vehicle, load and pulled unit cannot exceed 10,000 lbs.). If a commercial truck is pulling a trailer, that trailer must be licensed and must meet federal motor carrier regulations (i.e. brakes, tail lights, license plate).

2. Any full trailer, semi-trailer or pole trailer having a GVWR of 3,000 lbs or less must be equipped with brakes if the weight of the towed vehicle resting on the towing vehicle exceeds 40 percent of the GVWR of the towing vehicle.

3. Regardless of the ownership of a vehicle, if it is used in a commercial application, it is subject to the requirements of commercial registration. Example: a non-commercial truck that is titled to an individual and licensed with a passenger plate. If the vehicle is loaned to a friend who attaches a trailer and uses it for business purposes it now becomes a commercial vehicle and should be licensed as such.

4. Commercial vehicles over 10,001 lbs. must be licensed with a 14,000 lb. plate or greater.

5. Any commercial vehicle whose GVW or GVWR does not exceed 10,001 lbs. may be plated with any regular or special plate for which they qualify.

6. Commercial passenger vehicles (cars) must be licensed with a passenger or qualifing special plate.


1. If the combined or actual weight of a commercial truck, load and trailer exceeds 10,001 lbs. or if the GVWR of the truck is 10,001 lbs. or greater, a DOT number is required. (Regardless of the actual vehicle weight, if the GVWR is over 10,001 lbs., a DOT number is required).

2. Non-commercial vehicles over 10,001 lbs. DO NOT require a DOT number.

3. An application for a D.O.T. number can be downloaded at

4. Select "FMCSA registration forms"

5. Select MCS-150 (Instructions included)

6. Additional information can be obtained at 1-800-832-5660.

7. There is no fee for a D.O.T. number.

*A D.O.T. number serves as an identifier to differentiate between companies with the same name.


1. Farm trucks are commercial vehicles, however intrastate farm trucks registered with a Farm tag having a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or less are not required to have a DOT number.

2. All farm trucks that operate interstate and operate at 10,001 lbs. GVW or GVWR and over are required to have a DOT number. Farm trucks that operate interstate with less than a 10,001 lbs. GVW or GVWR do not require a DOT number.

3. Trailers pulled by farm trucks are not required to be licensed unless the farm truck is registered with a "farm limited" license plate.

4. Any person who registers a farm truck may apply for a special Kentucky Horse Council license plate (KRS186.1868). Intrastate and interstate safety regulations apply to these vehicles as well.