Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

DOT Requirements For Hazmat Transport Permits

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Apr 19, 2016

Transportation_2.jpgThe U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) defines national requirements for the transportation of hazardous materials, under what’s commonly called the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA). DOT agencies promulgate most regulatory requirements with nationwide applicability, and delegate most administrative and oversight responsibilities to state transportation and highway patrol agencies. Delegated functions include state-level registration of motor carriers that transport hazardous materials by roadways, and licensing for their drivers.

In addition to the state-level registration described earlier, HMTA requires most persons who transport or cause to be transported certain highly hazardous materials by highway, rail, air, or water to register annually with DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). However, the following persons are exempt from these requirements:

  • Federal, state, and local agencies, Indian tribes, and their employees.

  • Persons domiciled outside the United States (such as foreign companies) whose offering for transport consists only of imports into the United States.

  • Individual hazmat employees whose vehicles are leased to other entities for use.

This registration program does not preempt state, local, or tribal programs requiring registration or permits for hazardous materials offerors or transporters.

Registrations are required for any person who offers for transportation or transports any shipment of any one of the following, by highway, rail, air, or water:

  • Radioactive materials (hazard class 7), in quantities exceeding thresholds that trigger highway route restrictions.

  • More than 25 kilograms of explosives (hazard divisions 1.1 – 1.3) by motor vehicle, rail, or freight container.

  • More than one liter per package of materials that PHMSA designates as extremely toxic by inhalation.

  • Hazardous materials in any package, container, or tank having a capacity of 3,500 gallons or more of liquid or gas, or more than 468 cubic feet of solid.

  • Any single class of hazardous materials, for which placarding is required, in any shipment of 5,000 pounds or more, except in bulk packaging.

  • Any hazardous materials in a quantity that requires placarding.

Note that these provisions overlap with those that trigger a requirement that certain motor carriers secure safety permits from DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Any non-exempt person who transports or causes to be transported any of these hazardous materials in the quantities specified must register with PHMSA and file an annual registration statement (DOT Form F 5800.2). Registration statements are due each June 30 if the person intends to ship in the following 12 months (July 1 to June 30). Forms also require each registrant to identify each state in which any of these materials were offered or transported in commerce above the thresholds that trigger registration in the preceding calendar year.

Registrants pay a registration fee, and an additional processing fee. The processing fee is $25; two different registration fees presently apply:

  • Small businesses (that qualify under Small Business Administration requirements) and not-for-profit organizations—$250.

  • Other registrants—$2,575.

Persons can register and pay fees for one, two, or three years on a single Form F 5800.2.

Registrants receive a Certificate of Registration, and a DOT Hazmat Registration Number. Registered entities must maintain copies of their registration statement, documentation that the fee has been paid, and a copy of the Certificate of Registration. These documents must be retained for at least three years. Each vehicle transporting hazardous materials must carry a copy of the Certificate of Registration or other document with the carrier’s Hazmat Registration Number.

DOT agencies make efforts to coordinate this program with other registration and permit programs. For example, DOT’s FMCSA expressly prohibits hazardous materials transport by unregistered motor carriers. In addition, parties whose activities require registration under this program may also be required to prepare and adhere to security plans covering the operations that involve types and quantities of hazardous materials that trigger registration. In addition, many of the carriers required to register under this program also require safety permits issued by FMCSA.

Self-Assessment Checklist

Is my organization a motor carrier that transports hazardous materials over surface roads and highways?

  • If so, do any shipments ever exceed threshold quantities of specified high-hazard materials subject to hazardous materials permit requirements?

  •  Does my organization arrange for transportation of a hazardous materials over surface roads and highways (e.g., as a manufacturer or distributor)?

  •  If so, do any shipments ever exceed threshold quantities of specified high-hazard materials subject to hazardous materials permit requirements?

If the organization is involved with shipments that meet threshold quantities, has the organization obtained a hazardous materials permit from PHMSA?

Where Can I Go For More Information?

Specialty Technical Publishers (STP) provides a variety of single-law and multi-law services, intended to facilitate clients’ understanding of and compliance with requirements. These include:

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About the Author

jon_f_elliott.jpgJon Elliott is President of Touchstone Environmental and has been a major contributor to STP’s product range for over 25 years. He was involved in developing 12 existing products, including Environmental Compliance: A Simplified National Guide and The Complete Guide to Environmental Law.

Mr. Elliott has a diverse educational background. In addition to his Juris Doctor (University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1981), he holds a Master of Public Policy (Goldman School of Public Policy [GSPP], UC Berkeley, 1980), and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Princeton University, 1977).

Mr. Elliott is active in professional and community organizations. In addition, he is a past chairman of the Board of Directors of the GSPP Alumni Association, and past member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California's Environmental Law Section (including past chair of its Legislative Committee).

You may contact Mr. Elliott directly at:

photo credit: Mercedes Benz Actros 1844 2006 via photopin (license)

Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, Hazcom, Transportation