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Carriers that operate vehicles in two or more jurisdictions often choose apportioned registration under the International Registration Plan (IRP). Once you meet all registration requirements and your credentials are on the way, what’s next?

Make sure your credentials check out before hitting the road. Commercial vehicles not displaying current credentials are in violation of the law and are subject to fines in all jurisdictions where the vehicle travels.

Each vehicle needs a plate and a cab card

Once you provide all required information and pay the fees, your base state issues credentials. Each vehicle in your fleet gets:

  • A registration cab card, and
  • An apportioned license plate(s).

Enforcement officials use these credentials to verify and validate registration. The apportioned plate and cab card allow you to operate in all member jurisdictions.

When you receive your credentials, verify that the VIN, unit #, and other listed information are correct prior to operation. Mount the license plate on the vehicle according to your state’s requirements.

While you wait: Temporary registration permits

Once your state processes your application and receives the fees, the cab card and/or plate will go out in the mail. Since you cannot operate the vehicle without valid credentials, most states offer a “temporary registration permit.” This allows you to begin operations while you wait for your permanent credentials to arrive.

Temporary registration documents are valid for a brief period – usually 30 or 60 days. They allow interstate as well as intrastate operation in all jurisdictions listed. These are not automatically issued. If you want to begin operations before you receive permanent credentials, check with your state to find out:

  • If this is available in your state, and
  • How to apply for the temporary credentials.

Not the same: Temporary registration permits vs. trip permits

Temporary registration permits are issued for vehicles in IRP fleets that are:

  • In the process of registering, or
  • Renewing registration.

Trip permits are for vehicles that:

  • Do not have apportioned plates, and
  • Need temporary registration for occasional trips outside of their base state.

When to display renewal credentials

Most states send renewal notices several weeks or months before they are due. Since processing can take a while, it’s a good idea to submit your renewal as soon as possible.

Once you receive renewal credentials, you may remove the previously issued plate and display the renewal plate prior to the start of the new registration period.

Until the new registration period begins, both of the following must be carried in the vehicle:

  • The cab card from the prior registration period, and
  • The cab card for the renewal period.

Key to remember: There is no grace period for vehicle registration credentials, either for initial registration or at renewal. If you need to operate outside your base state prior to receiving your permanent credentials, find out if temporary registration permits are available.