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Companies often have business locations in multiple states, and we frequently get questions from carriers on how they can properly register their vehicles across the various states. It’s a great question and the specifics of the situation will help determine the answer.

Interstate or intrastate

The main item to consider is whether your vehicles operate interstate or intrastate (crossing state lines or not). If your vehicles cross state lines, then you could register your vehicles under the International Registration Plan (IRP), registering them in one state even though you have vehicles and company locations in other states.

The IRP is intended for interstate carriers who have vehicles with three or more axles, or two-axle vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more (either by themselves or when used in combination with a trailer). There are some cases, however, where it might be advantageous to register a vehicle weighing 26,000 pounds or less with your IRP vehicles.

If your vehicles operate intrastate (not crossing state lines), then you will likely have to register the vehicles based on where they are operated and garaged. For example, if you have 10 trucks operating and garaged in Missouri, and five trucks operating and garaged in Arizona, the 10 Missouri trucks would be registered in Missouri, and the 5 Arizona trucks would be registered in Arizona.

Moving vehicles between states

Some carriers have the need to periodically move vehicles from one location to another. If your vehicles are registered under IRP, you should have no problem — you can move those vehicles between states without needing any additional permits and without re-registering in the new state.

The relocated vehicles not crossing state lines is a different story. Most states require a vehicle to be registered within 30 days of relocation to the state. If you reposition a truck for less than 30 days and then move it back to its base-plated state, you won’t need to re-register. However, if you plan to operate and garage the vehicle in a new state long-term, you would be required to re-register in the new state.

Note: If your vehicles qualify for IRP, you may also be required to get temporary trip and fuel permits for your base-plated vehicles to travel into or through states outside the base-plated state.

What about those vehicles weighing less than 26,001 pounds?

Fleet vehicles weighing 10,000–26,000 pounds can be registered under IRP, and depending on where you are operating, it may be beneficial to do so.

Several states, including Washington, California, Nevada, and Arizona, require carriers coming from another state to obtain a temporary trip permit for vehicles weighing less than 26,001 pounds. If you plan to operate your vehicles across state lines on a regular basis — or even reposition them from state to state going into or through any of these states — you would need to get a temporary permit.

However, if these vehicles were registered under IRP, you wouldn’t have to worry about temporary permits or re-registering them when they go to a new state. Again, depending on how often these vehicles will cross state lines, it may be more cost efficient to register under IRP instead of obtaining temporary permits each time they are needed.

Keep in mind that every vehicle registered with IRP — even those under 26,001 pounds — would have to follow the mileage recordkeeping requirements.

Does IRP require us to cross state lines?

The IRP does have a provision in its Plan document that talks about vehicles needing to operate interstate within an 18-month time frame. The IRP plan points out that it is the intent of the Plan and its registrants that they would operate in at least two or more states.

If you do register a vehicle under IRP and it doesn’t operate in more than one state over an 18-month period, the state may ask you to re-register that vehicle as an intrastate (base-plated) vehicle.

Key to remember: Carriers with business locations and vehicles in multiple states have options when it comes to vehicle registration.