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Commercial Vehicle Truck Lettering Requirements

Lettering on commercial vehicles is governed at every level of government. There are federal laws that need to be followed as well as state and local laws that can make your overall requirements very confusing to keep track of.

Federal Requirements

At the federal level, lettering on commercial vehicles is governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  Every commercial vehicle is required to display the USDOT number and they also must include the business entity that owns or controls the vehicle.  The name displayed on the vehicle must match the name of the entity on the truck’s form MCS-150.

The rules for New York State are the same as federal rules only requiring the USDOT number and business entity name. This requirement is for all vehicles with a gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more.

Obtaining and USDOT number is relatively easy to do and it is free. Visit for more information on obtaining a free USDOT number.

New York City Requirements

While New York State and the federal government have the same requirements, New York City has additional requirements that you need to be aware of.  The New York City Traffic Rules require that a commercial vehicle must display the owner’s name and address in permanent lettering that is 3 inches high.  The lettering must be on both sides of the vehicle and be in a color that contrasts with the color of the vehicle. You cannot put white letters on a white truck.  There is no rule regarding what font can be used, however, the lettering must be legible during the day from at least 50 feet away.

Requirements for the USDOT number are similar. They must be on both sides of the vehicle, must contrast with the color of the vehicle and while the number does not have to be 3 inches in height, they must be legible from 50 feet away when the vehicle is stationary.

If you are buying a new vehicle or your current vehicle is not in compliance, call Burhani Signs and Graphics. We work with many vehicle owners to make sure their vehicles are up to code.

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