Truck Driver Behind the Wheel. Concept: commercial vehicle
Moses Will
By: moseswill
Read in 11 minutes

What Is a Commercial Vehicle?

Most people wonder what a commercial vehicle is. Some think of large box trucks, buses, semi-trucks, and motor coaches. However, in most cases, it turns out that a commercial vehicle is not what it seems to be. 

We are here to delve deep into the world of commercial vehicles and help you have a better understanding. In this article, we have also outlined various types of commercial vehicles and how you can register one to use it in your small business.

What is a Commercial Vehicle? 

A commercial vehicle is any vehicle designed to transport goods and passengers for business purpose. 

It might carry people to a personal destination, take people for a tour guide, or get employees to their workplace. 

When the vehicle is transporting goods, it moves them from one business location to another. It can also move goods directly to the customers.

Some of these vehicles are designed to carry heavy cargo, like towed trailer units, which are more powerful and wider than most vehicles. Driving these types of vehicles requires excellent awareness and impeccable skills. You may also need safety and operating training.

Close up business man reaching out sheet with contract agreement proposing to sign.Insurance agent and insurance company customers.Concept of insurance with house and car. Concept: what is a commercial vehicle

To operate a commercial vehicle, you need to be licensed by the United States Department of Transportation. The license is called a Commercial Driver’s Licence (CDL). 

According to FMCSA, a commercial motor vehicle has a “gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more”. However, it’s important to know that a commercial vehicle is not defined by the actual weight rather than the weight rating. 

Here are three ways in which an ordinary vehicle can be considered a commercial vehicle:

🚘 Transporting Passengers. If a car is designed to carry more than 16 people, inclusive of the driver, then it is a commercial vehicle. So, if you have a small bus or van, you can use it to transport a limited number of passengers at a fee. 

 🚘Gross Weight Rating. A vehicle with a gross weight rating of 26, 001 pounds or more is considered a commercial vehicle.

🚘 Carrying Hazardous Material. Any vehicle that transports hazardous materials triggers the applicable CMV rule. 

Different Types of Commercial vehicles

Now that you have a better understanding of what a commercial vehicle is, let’s look at different types of commercial vehicles. 

If you’re a businessperson, choosing the right vehicle is indispensable. Different businesses have different requirements concerning materials and equipment. If you want goods to reach your customers fast and conveniently, the right vehicle will make the difference. 

For example, you will find that most people use vans when a job requires more than a regular car. But workers in the construction industry need large vehicles with ample cargo space for their many materials and tools. 

Check the types of commercial vehicles below to help you make the right decision.

  • Commercial Cars 🚗

If you’re a small businessperson with fewer materials, tools, or supplies, then a car is the best choice. A car is about getting people to their final destination or delivering a small cargo to the customer.

The best thing about a small vehicle is more maneuverability and non-complicated driving training. More so, small cars are affordable, and you will spend less on repairs and gas.

Furthermore, commercial cars come in various styles. If you need more cargo space, a station wagon or a hatchback are the perfect options. Combined with folding seats and towing capacity, these two vehicles offer large cargo space and enhanced fuel efficiency.

  • Commercial SUVs 🚙

In today’s world, professionals have taken a huge turn where they’re using SUVs as an alternative to commercial trucks. Although most SUVs don’t have high towing capacity, like heavy-duty trucks, a number of them are capable of decent towing capacity.

If you want to transport passengers to a worksite, a full-size SUV with a seating capacity of about 8 or 9 people will be cost-effective, efficient, and economical. Most SUVs are built with rear folding seats to allow you to configure that interior in a way that it will fit all your passengers.

Mid-size SUVs make great commercial vehicles for smaller jobs. Only get a mid-size SUV if you have few people or tools to carry around. 

  • Commercial Trucks and Vans 🚚

A truck or a van is the most common type of commercial vehicle. Both of these vehicles are designed with roomy cargo space. 

Both of these types of vehicles have powerful engine options. 

For instance, heavy-duty trucks are used in many industries for trailering and hauling. A large truck powered by a V-8 engine will tow something a regular vehicle cannot. 

And although vans have less towing capacity, they are the best for hauling cargo. 

How to Register a Commercial Vehicle

Now that you understand what a commercial vehicle is and its various types, we’ll help you understand the registration procession. When registering a commercial vehicle, you need to know the laws and requirements of your city or state.

  • Registering the Vehicle Locally

 You will find that a commercial vehicle has a different meaning in every state. Therefore, check with your transit authority or local DMV to see if your car can be considered commercial. 

For example, if you ask what is a commercial vehicle in Alaska, you will be told it’s any vehicle registered in the name of a company. The jurisdiction, state, or city may have a myriad of registration requirements based on your vehicle’s nature. 

In the US, your car needs to have DOT number before you register it as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The next step is to complete the registration form online or directly at your local DMV office. You’ll have to provide information like:

🚌 DOT number

🚌  tax ID

🚌 type and size of the vehicle you’re registering

There can be some extra information you’ll need to complete the registration. It could be the weight if your vehicle, your location, insurance information, the title, and proof of identification. 

  • Obtain Unified Carrier Registration 

The Unified Carrier Registration is a state-mandated program in the United States. You will require a UCR if you operate one or more buses and trucks interstate or internationally. 

To register for a UCR, you need to provide:

🚕 DOT number

🚕 your business information

🚕 number and types of vehicle you will operate

You’ll also have to pay the UCR fee, which is based on the number of vehicles you will be operating. Furthermore, the cost varies from vehicle to vehicle and how huge your fleet is.

  • International Registration Plan

The IRP is an international agreement set between the District of Columbia, the United States, and Canada. You need an IRP if you want to operate commercial vehicle interstate or between the U.S and Canada.

When filing an IRP application form, you may be required to provide a variety of documents. These may include: 

🚛 relevant tax forms

🚛 proofs of residency

🚛 DOT number

🚛 local business license

🚛 insurance information.

The IRP registration fee varies on various factors such as the age and size of your vehicle, operation distance, and your base jurisdiction.

  • IFTA Registration

International Fuel Tax Agreement, or IFTA, operates in all USA states except Alaska and Hawaii, and the Canadian Provinces. You require an IFTA if your commercial vehicle operates between two or more jurisdictions. 

To register for an IFTA, you need an IRP (that’s why you need to register for IRP first). Alternatively, you can submit both applications, concurrently.

 For IFTA registration, you need to provide information such as: 

⛟ DOT number

⛟ previous history of IRP and IFTA registration

⛟ the vehicle registration number

⛟ the nature of your vehicle ownership: corporate, general partnership, individual

Upon the acceptance of your IFTA, you will get decals to affix on any registered vehicles. You will receive two decals per vehicle and a license. You must display decals properly and replace them annually as you renew the license.

The registration process above will help you avoid getting in a tangle with authorities. At this juncture, we hope you now have a clear idea about what is a commercial vehicle and how to go about its registration.

Finance your Commercial Vehicle

As you have read, commercial vehicles are available in various type and sizes. Ensure you choose what is right for your business. 


We know that businesses need straight answers and quick facts when it comes to equipment financing (because cars can be considered equipment). Camino Financial has financing for your commercial vehicle.  

Traffic on highway with cars.. Concept: what is a commercial vehicle

With vast experience, we are in a position to offer stellar financial services. Request a quote for a small business loan and invest in the best commercial vehicle for your business. 

Our terms are favorable with flexible payments schedules. We take pride in:

💵 A large number of loans ranging from $5,000 to $400,000 which can get you a commercial vehicle for your small business

💵 Extended payment period: 24 -60 months

💵 We offer loans even when you don’t have a credit history

💵 No prepayment penalties 

💵 Streamlined and fast paperless process

These are the features that make Camino Financial your best choice.

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