Getting the license plates on your truck and trailer is a very important process. When we get our personal vehicles registered, the process is pretty simple. Like with most things in the trucking industry, the process is significantly more complicated. On this page, we’ll answer the who, what, and where of the International Registration Plan (IRP) or apportioned registration to help you better understand the process.
Who Has to Do It?
There are two main types of license plates for commercial trucks with a GVWR over 10,000 lbs.: base plates and apportioned plates. If your truck is never going to leave your state, a base plate is all you will need, and the process is pretty similar to registering your personal vehicle. If you are going to travel through more than one state, things get much more complicated because you will fall under the requirements of the International Registration Plan, usually referred to by its acronym IRP or apportioned registration.
What Is It and What Do I Have to Do?
What Is It?
IRP is an agreement with all the states of the United States and the provinces of Canada. When you register a commercial truck you actually have to pay fees in every state that truck runs through. The amount of fee you pay is based on the percentage of miles you operate in each state. Check out the example below for a trucking company based out of Florida.
I have tried to keep this example simple. The numbers are all rounded and the company only runs in six states.
- The first column shows how many miles were run in each state.
- The second column shows the percentage of the total miles that was run in each state.
- The third column is an estimate of each state’s registration fee, this is close to the actual fee, but not exact.
- The last column shows how much is due to each state and is calculated by multiplying the state fee by the percentage of miles run in that state.
You add them up and the total apportioned registration fee for this truck would be around $997.70 for a year. The trucking company would pay the entire amount to Florida, their home state, and Florida would then distribute the amounts due to the other states.
This is a very simplified example to give you a general idea for what IRP registration is.
What Do I Have to Do?
You have to set up an IRP account in your home state. The next section will give you some more information about where to go to do that.
As part of the setup process, you will have to fill out some applications, provide proof of residency, submit documentation like a copy of the 2290 or emissions certificate if required, and pay the registration fee.
There are some differences from state to state so make sure you contact your state to verify what forms you need to fill out and what documents you will need to submit to meet their requirements. You can usually download all the forms from their website so you have everything ready to go when you get to their office to set everything up.
We offer some additional tips on the Haulin Assets podcast episode that covers this topic, episode 14. The tips will help make the process easier and share some ideas to help you limit the amount of money you have to pay up front.
Where Do I Go to Get My Plates?
Every state has a department that handles IRP registration. You can find contact information for each state by going to IRP Online and searching for your state.