- Skip Navigation

Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.

  • Business & Agriculture
  • Residents
  • Government
  • Education
  • Taxes & Finance
  • Visiting & Playing
  • Family & Health

Indiana Department of Revenue

MCS Home > Motor Carrier Services > New User - StartPoint > Key Terms Key Terms


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |


Operating authority dictates the type of operation a company can run, the cargo it can carry, and the geographical area in which it may legally operate. This is granted on a federal level for interstate commerce and via the Indiana Business Authorization and Safety compliance process for intrastate commerce.

Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
A device on a vehicle that provides energy for functions other than propulsion. The fuel source can be either separate from or combined with the fuel supply that propels the vehicle.


Indiana Business Authorization and Safety Application for intrastate and/or interstate carriers.This form can be found at

Base Jurisdiction (for IFTA)
The state or the Canadian province where qualified motor vehicles are based for vehicle registration purposes, where operational control and operational records of the licensee’s qualified motor vehicles are maintained or can be made available, and where some travel occurs.

Indiana Business Closure Request form at

A person, other than a motor carrier, who sells or arranges for transportation by a motor carrier for compensation.


Cab Card Credential
A registration card issued by the base jurisdiction for a vehicle with the ability to travel interstate, with movement into the states listed on the cab card. It also identifies the vehicle license plate number and registered weight in each of the states where the vehicle is properly registered.

Charter Buses
A group of persons who, under a single contract, have acquired the exclusive use of a passenger-carrying motor vehicle to travel together as a group to a specified destination or for a particular itinerary.

Closure Letter
An OSS-1 form or letter written on company letterhead indicating which Motor Carrier Services Division Accounts (IFTA, IRP, MCFT, etc.) the taxpayer wants to close. It must be signed by an owner or officer of the business.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
A license issued to drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).

Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs)
CMVs are vehicles that meet the following guidelines: 1) Have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 26,001 lbs.; 2) Are designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver; and 3) Carry hazardous waste or materials that require placarding.

Converter Gears
An auxiliary undercarriage assembly with a fifth wheel and tow bar used to convert a semi-trailer to a full trailer.

Coupling Devices
These devices are used when two or more vehicles are operated in combination to connect the vehicles. For more information, visit and


Dealer License Plates
Used for those persons engaged in the business of manufacturing, buying, or selling motor vehicles. These special license plates are issued by the Secretary of State for vehicles identified as auto dealers.

DOT Authority Lease
A lease agreement between the owner of a subject vehicle and owner of a carrier indicating that the carrier will provide the operating authority and compliance the federal government requires as it pertains to interstate commerce.

DOT Number
A number issued by the federal government that represents compliance with the federal regulations pertaining to interstate commerce as they apply to a carrier.

DOT Physical Examination
A driver must pass a DOT physical examination prior to applying for an initial CDL and up to every two years thereafter.

Dump Truck
A vehicle that is used for transporting loose material typically equipped with a hydraulically operated box-bed. The fuel source can be either separate from or combined with the fuel supply that propels the vehicle.


Emergency Equipment
Emergency or fire equipment that is necessary for the preservation of life or property or the execution of emergency governmental functions performed under emergency conditions. For more information, visit

Emergency Temporary Operating Authority
Limited-term motor carrier operating authority issued for periods of 30 days or less. This is done to meet an immediate and urgent need for service due to emergencies and due to the fact that the filing and processing of an application for temporary authority is not reasonably possible because of circumstances or time constraints.

Established Place of Business
A place of business in Indiana is considered a physical structure owned, leased, or rented by the registrant/IRP account holder. A post office box number or a rural route number is not an acceptable business address for IRP registration. The business address must be a valid street address or an identifiable location within Indiana such as “on County Road 26, one mile east of County Road 15.”


Farm Plate
A special license plate issued by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for vehicles that are being utilized more than 50 percent of the time in an agricultural business and that are not for-hire to a third party.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)/Motor Carrier (MC) Authority
Companies that operate as for-hire carriers (for a fee or other compensation) that transport passengers or federally regulated commodities, or arrange for their transport, in interstate commerce are required to have interstate operating authority.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. Activities of the administration contribute to ensuring safety in motor carrier operations through strongly enforcing safety regulations, targeting high-risk carriers and commercial motor vehicle drivers, improving safety information systems and commercial motor vehicle technologies, strengthening commercial motor vehicle equipment and operating standards, and increasing safety awareness. To accomplish these activities, the administration works with federal, state, and local enforcement agencies; the motor carrier industry; labor safety interest groups; and others.

The definition of fleet depends on the motor carrier service you are using. Under the IRP, a fleet is one or more apportionable vehicles designated by a registrant for distance reporting. Under UCR, though, a fleet is the number of commercial motor vehicles you reported on your last MCS-150 form or the total number of commercial motor vehicles owned and operated for the 12-month period ending June 30 of the year.

For-Hire Carriers
Carriers that can legally operate for compensation as a common or contract carrier of property, owned by others, or of passengers under the provisions of the Federal Highway Administration.

Freight Forwarder
A person who arranges for truck transportation of cargo belonging to others, utilizing for-hire carriers to provide the actual truck transportation. This person also performs or provides for the assembly, consolidation, break-bulk, and distribution of shipments and assumes responsibility for transportation from place of receipt to destination.

Fuel Tax
Any person who operates a qualified motor vehicle on a certain class of subject vehicles or with a gross combination vehicle weight (GCVW) of truck and trailer on any highway in Indiana is subject to this tax imposed via IC 6-6-4.1


This stands for gross combination vehicle weight rating.

General Provision Sheet (M-204)
The provision sheet must be kept in the truck with the permit while moving loads. It gives carriers information to ensure they are legal with lighting, escorts, hours of operations, etc.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
The GVWR of a vehicle is set by the manufacturer. It is the weight of the vehicle when fully loaded.


Hazardous Materials
Hazardous materials are hazardous waste or materials requiring vehicle placards.

Home Base
See base jurisdiction.

Household Goods
Personal effects and property used or to be used in a dwelling when the effects and property are parts of the equipment or supply of that dwelling.

A vehicle or device used exclusively in agricultural operations; these are exempt and do not require permits, such as farm equipment, as long as they do not touch interstate highways. For more information, visit


Identification Numbers
Federal employer identification number (FEIN) or Social Security number (SSN). It can also mean Indiana taxpayer identification number (TID).

IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement)
A multijurisdictional fuel use tax collection agreement between U.S. states and Canadian provinces to reconcile each jurisdiction’s roadway tax and registration requirements into a single quarterly report and annual registration for qualified motor vehicles operated in multiple jurisdictions.

IFTA-1A (International Fuel Tax Agreement Application Form)
You must complete this to pay the fuel tax for subject vehicles that travel both in and outside of Indiana. This form can be found at

IFTA Compliance Decals
Stickers that are applied to both the driver and passenger sides of a subject vehicle to indicate compliance with IC 6-6.4.1 for vehicles that travel in and out of the State of Indiana. These decals expire on Dec. 31 of the year indicated. A compliance decal is required for each new calendar year.

Indiana BMV Base-Plated
Plates for intrastate movement; they can only be obtained at your local license branch.

Indiana ID Number
Indiana identification number for passenger carriers with seating capacities of eight or fewer or for-hire carriers transporting property with vehicles weighing less than 10,000 lbs.

Indiana-Contracted Third-Party CDL Skills Test Site
These skills test sites are designated locations where CDL skills tests are administered by Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles-certified CDL skills test examiners.

International Registration Plan (IRP)
An agreement providing interstate travel for registration of vehicles among member states participating in the IRP. The base state issues one plate and cab card for a fleet of vehicles. The plate and cab card are then valid for all states the carrier has paid and registered to travel in. The plan allows for the disbursement of lump fee payments to each state that vehicles are registered for.

Transportation of persons or property across state lines, including international boundaries, or wholly within one state as part of a through movement that originates or terminates in another state or country.

Traveling only within the borders of one state (specifically, Indiana).

Intrastate Carriers
Carriers that participate in the transportation of persons or property wholly within one state.

Intrastate DOT Number
An Indiana USDOT number identifies carriers traveling only in Indiana. This is the number that must be visible on your truck to be legal to operate as a motor carrier.

IRP Plate
A plate that allows a carrier to travel to states in which it has paid fees. It is for specific vehicle weights and plate types.

IRP-Apportioned Plates
Same as IRP plates. These license plates are issued by the Department of Revenue and indicate that the registration fees have been collected for more than one jurisdiction.






A person or company engaged in the business of leasing or renting for compensation motor vehicles it owns (without drivers) to a motor carrier, motor private carrier, or freight forwarder.

License Cab Card
A document that identifies a carrier that has been registered by the Indiana Department of Revenue to indicate compliance with IC 6-6.4.1. This license card expires on Dec. 31 of the year indicated. A license card is required for each new calendar year.

License Plate Weight
The weight identified on an Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicle license plate for vehicles and trailing units.


Manufacturer Plates
Used for those in the business of constructing or assembling motor vehicles.

Motor Carrier (MC) Number
Companies that operate as for-hire carriers (for a fee or other compensation) that transport passengers or federally regulated commodities, or arrange for their transport, in interstate commerce are also required to have interstate operating authority and are issued an MC number.

MCFT Compliance Decal
A sticker that is applied to the driver’s side of a subject vehicle to indicate compliance with IC 6-6.4.1 for vehicles that travel only in the State of Indiana. This decal expires on Dec. 31 of the year indicated. A compliance decal is required for each new calendar year.

MCFT Intrastate Tax License
See license cab card.

Motor Carrier Fuel Tax License Application Form. You must complete this form to pay the fuel tax for subject vehicles that travel only in Indiana. This form can be found at

MCS-NC Legal Name Change Affidavit Form
Use this form when you change the legal name of your company for any Motor Carrier tax type. This form can be found at

Motor Carrier Fuel Tax (MCFT)
An excise tax imposed on certain subject vehicles that travel on public roadways in the State of Indiana.

Motor Carrier State Police or CVED
The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division (CVED) is responsible for enforcing all state and federal regulations pertaining to commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) operating within the state. It is also responsible for conducting and managing Indiana’s school bus inspection program, conducting safety audits of motor carriers, and enforcing Indiana’s dyed fuel laws. For more information, visit


Non-Hazardous Property
Transportation of persons or property across state lines, including international boundaries, or wholly within one state as part of a through movement that originates or terminates in another state or country.


Operating Authority (for Interstate)
Companies that operate as for-hire carriers (for a fee or other compensation) that transport passengers or federally regulated commodities, or arrange for their transport, in interstate commerce are also required to have interstate operating authority.

OSW Transporting Account
You must have an Oversize and/or Overweight (OSW) account set up before you can request an OSW permit. This permit is needed if your load exceeds the legal dimensions for Indiana, which are 53' (load and trailer length if fifth wheel hook-up semi-tractor and trailer); 8'6 wide; 13'6 tall; and 80,000 pounds. For more information, visit

The individual(s) who has fiduciary responsibility to act on behalf of a business entity.


Permanent Operating Authority (for Intrastate)
A person may not operate a motor vehicle on an Indiana public highway to transport household goods or passengers for compensation until the person has filed an application to operate.

Placards are used to warn others of hazardous materials. They are signs put on the outside of a vehicle and on bulk packages that identify the hazard class of the cargo.

Power Unit
A motor vehicle (but not including an automobile or a motorcycle) and distinguished from a trailer, a semi-trailer, or an auxiliary axle.

Private Carriers
A person who provides transportation of property by commercial motor vehicle and is not a for-hire motor carrier (hauling your own product in your vehicle).

Proportional Use (Fuel) Tax Credit
A credit allowed for tax paid via IC 6-6-4.1 for approved subject vehicles that use a single fuel tank to power auxiliary equipment as well as propel the vehicle.


Qualifying Vehicle
A power unit having two axles and a gross vehicle weight or registered gross vehicle weight in excess of 26,000 pounds (11,793 kilograms); or that:

  • Is a power unit having three or more axles, regardless of weight; or
  • Is used in combination when the weight of such combination exceeds 26,000 pounds (11,793 kilograms) gross vehicle weight or registered weight.


Recreational Vehicles
Vehicles that are registered as recreational vehicles and used primarily to transport the owner's family members or guests and their possessions for non-business purposes.

An owner of a vehicle who operates his vehicle for a carrier who has leased him their USDOT number or Indiana ID number (intrastate DOT #) and operating authority.


Safety Audit
An examination of a motor carrier’s operations to provide educational and technical assistance on safety and the operational requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Ratings (FMCSRs) and applicable Hazardous Materials Ratings (HMRs). It also is used to gather critical safety data necessary to make an assessment of the carrier’s safety performance and basic safety management controls. Safety audits do not result in safety ratings.

Semi-Tractor-Semi-Trailer Combination
Semi-truck-and-trailer combination with a fifth wheel hook-up. If the load and trailer length exceed 53', you will need a permit. For more information, visit

Skills Test
After a driver has acquired a CDL permit, he or she must pass a skills test in a vehicle representative of the class of license he or she will receive.

Special Machinery Plates
Used for implements of husbandry, well drilling equipment, ensilage cutters, paint spray outfits, livestock dipping equipment, seed cleaning and treating equipment, and other farm-related machinery.

Before you operate your vehicle, you should spot check these items: brakes, coupling devices, fuel and exhaust systems, frame, van and open-top trailers, lighting, securement of cargo, steering, suspension and tires, wheels, rims and hubs. For more information, visit

Staggered Month
An assigned month chosen by the carrier that dictates the start and expiration of its IRP plates. For example, say February is the staggered month chosen by the carrier. Therefore, the renewal validation period will be Feb. 1 through Jan. 31 (expiration date of plates). Payments for February renewals are due on or before Jan. 15; after Jan. 16 a 10 percent penalty on Indiana fees will be incurred.

Steering Mechanism
The steering control system in automobiles, including the steering wheel, gears, linkages, and other components used to control the direction of a vehicle's motion. The mechanism for changing the direction of movement of a motor vehicle. To get more information, visit

Straight Trucks
A straight truck is any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.

Super Sucker
A trademarked name for a vehicle that has an industrial vacuum loader mounted as equipment on it. The fuel source can be either separate from or combined with the fuel supply that propels the vehicle.


Tank Vehicles
A tank vehicle has a permanently mounted cargo tank rated at 119 gallons or more. The vehicle could also be towing a portable tank rated at 1,000 gallons or more.

Rates and fees that carriers charge for the transportation of passengers and household goods.

Tax Liabilities
Money owed to the State of Indiana that is collectible for any listed tax (income or excise).

Temporary Operating Authority
Temporary authority means limited-term motor carrier operating authority issued for periods up to 180 days by the Department to authorize transportation service for which there is an immediate and urgent need and that cannot be met by another motor carrier service. The term includes emergency temporary authority.

Transport Operator Plates
Used for the purpose of transporting vehicles from one place to another by the drive-away or tow-away method. These plates are also used for any business that prepares its own newly purchased vehicles and delivers them to the locations where the vehicles will be based, titled, and registered.

Transporter Plate
A special license plate issued by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for vehicles that are being delivered to their owners by a third party.

Trip Permit
A 72-hour permit that allows a carrier operating from another state to travel into Indiana without registering for IRP.

Two-Vehicle Combination
A truck (automobile) and trailer combination that can't exceed 60' bumper to bumper. For more information, visit


Unified Carrier Registration (UCR)
The Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) is a base-state system for registering interstate motor carriers with vehicles over 10,000 lbs., including private, for-hire, and exempt carriers; farmers operating in interstate commerce; and brokers, freight forwarders, and leasing companies. All these operators must pay annual registration fees. For more information, visit

United States Department of Transportation Number (USDOT Number)
A USDOT number federally identifies carriers traveling across the United States and beyond. This is the number that must be visible on your truck to be legal.


Vehicle Markings
Vehicle markings are used in the trucking industry in three different ways. A vehicle marking can be:
1. The legal name or a single trade name of the motor carrier operating the self-propelled CMV;
2. The identification number issued by FMCSA to the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider, preceded by the letters USDOT; or
3. The identification number issued by the Indiana Department of Revenue, preceded by the letters USDOT and with the letters IN after the number (if you are an Indiana intrastate carrier).
For more information, visit

Vehicles with Restrictive Plates
Vehicles with restrictive plates have geographic area, distance, or commodity restrictions or are farm-registered vehicles.


Warning Devices
This standard establishes requirements for devices, without self-contained energy sources, that are designed to be carried in motor vehicles and used to warn approaching traffic of the presence of a stopped vehicle, except for devices designed to be permanently affixed to the vehicle. For more information, visit

Written Knowledge Tests
These must be taken before a CDL permit or new endorsement can be issued. They are also taken when a valid CDL from another state is transferred to Indiana.