The fees we pay to register our personal cars and trucks go to fund Pennsylvania roads, bridges and various other public infrastructure projects. For those businesses that operate big rigs to transport cargo through multiple states, they operate under a completely different registration system. These big rig operators need special registration to travel across state lines and they pay much higher fees to do so. Big rigs are also known as “Apportioned Vehicles” and are registered under a reciprocity agreement that was formed between the states in the 1970s called the International Registry Plan (IRP).
For those of us that are old enough to remember, big rigs would display multiple license plates like those shown above to allow for commercial travel to each state. The IRP replaced the need for the owner/operator of the truck to get a separate registration for each state they traveled. The IRP (also known as Apportioned Registration) allows commercial vehicles “Motor Carriers” traveling within the US and Canada to pay registration fees to other states from their home state based on the actual number of miles driven and weights carried in each state. The registration plate is issued from the registrant’s home state and allows the vehicle to move throughout any member jurisdictions without multiple registrations.
It is very important that operators keep track of the exact number of miles driven and weights carried for each trip so that it can be accurately reported for the purposes of paying the correct registration fees and having those fees split up and sent directly to each jurisdictions DMV. Drivers need to maintain detailed diary logs in their trucks to record trips but with modern technology that is now available, most operators utilize GPS and weight sensors within their trucks to automatically track and store each trip. Operator trip logs are used to renew annual registrations and are periodically audited by the supervisory department in each state so that they need to be detailed, accurate and available upon request.
Also Read: What is Fleet Registration
It is also important to note that not all Motor Carriers who operate in different states (interstate) are required to register with IRP. Only vehicles that have gross vehicle weight more than 26,000 lbs. or have 3 or more axles that travel across state boundaries are required to comply. There are exceptions for recreational vehicles, Government owned vehicles, and vehicles displaying restricted plates. Motor carriers also have the option to obtain individual trip permits in advance of entering each state for commercial transport. This method is very time consuming and difficult to manage in that each permit from each jurisdiction must be issued and paid for in advance of each trip.
To apply for an apportioned account and registration plates, the registrant needs to comply with the following:
• Obtain Authority from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
• Have a U.S. Department of Transportation number (USDOT)
• Obtain an International Fuel Tax Permit (IFTA)
• Provide relevant proof of residence and various IRP registration forms.
For those commercial operators who do not have dedicated internal fleet management departments at their disposal, the best way to handle the IRP process is to partner with various sponsor companies offering services that help to answer questions and keep the process on track to get you on the road as quickly as possible. We here at 309 Auto Tags can work with you or your chosen sponsor to coordinate services to get required items submitted to PennDOT Commercial Registration. As an authorized IRP representative, we can issue a 60 day temporary authority (TA) that can be mounted onto the truck windshield that allows the Motor Carrier to commence interstate transport operations immediately without waiting for PennDOT to issue the Cab card and metal Apportioned registration plate.