Truck Drivers

IRP and Trip Permits — Don’t Leave Home Without Them

There’s no place like home. But unless you’re just running local, it’s likely your routes take you outside the state or province where your commercial vehicle is registered. In most cases, you’ll need to be registered with the International Registration Plan (IRP) or hold a temporary trip permit.

The IRP is an agreement that covers 48 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Canadian provinces. It applies to interstate vehicles with a gross weight or registered weight over 26,000 pounds, combinations with a gross weight or registered weight over 26,000 pounds, or vehicles with three or more axles regardless of weight (counting axles on the truck or power unit only).

Once an IRP applicant pays the registration fees in their base area, they receive apportioned plates and cab cards that list all of the jurisdictions where the vehicles can operate. The fees are shared (apportioned) by the jurisdictions where the vehicles operate — they are divided based on the percentage of miles the vehicle(s) operate in each jurisdiction.

When you apply for your IRP, you will decide in which states you will run. If it’s your first time with an IRP or you are entering new jurisdictions, estimated mileage will need to be reported. Haven’t got a clue?  Don’t guess because that could be costly. Instead, the Celtic Fee Estimator (irponline.org/page/FeeEstimator) is available to help estimate the fees associated with registering apportioned vehicles based on various factors, including the distance associated with the jurisdictions traveled. It provides a “benchmark” to rely upon to measure the accuracy of fee calculations.

The registration fee for an apportioned plate will vary depending on your base state, gross vehicle weight, and states you wish to register. Typically the state fees for an 80,000 pound vehicle running all 48 lower states is between $1,500 and $2,000.

What if you’re putting an apportioned vehicle out of service? The license plate and fees can (with the exception of those registered in California) be transferred to another vehicle. The original vehicle’s cab card must be surrendered and a new cab card issued. If the replacement vehicle is of a greater gross weight, the difference in fees must be paid. Refunds for remaining credits are NOT issued if you decide to simply cancel the IRP.

If your vehicle is not IRP-registered, you’ll likely need a temporary trip permit for travel in any jurisdiction outside your home base. You might wonder whether you can save money by just purchasing trip permits. According to International Registration Plan, Inc., if you are planning multiple trips outside your base, it makes sense to apportion in this jurisdiction. If, on the other hand, you only need to haul out of state once in a long while, you can get temporary trip and fuel permits for the jurisdiction into which you’ll be crossing. States often have combo trip and fuel permits to make applying easier. Many jurisdictions restrict the number of temporary trip permits you are allowed to obtain in a one-year time span. So be sure and check before making your decision.

Under the IRP, vehicles that are two axles and at or under 26,000 pounds can be registered with apportioned plates at your option. So here’s another question you might ask — if I’m not required to apportion my vehicle, why would I bother? According to J. J. Keller, the answer comes down to state-by-state rules. Some states — not all, though — may require apportioned plates to operate these vehicles within their borders. Permits may be required for simply traveling through a specific jurisdiction or engaging in intrastate transportation within a state. It all depends on where you’re going and how you’re getting there.

For more information on IRP requirements and registration, visit International Registration Plan, Inc. (irponline.org). For help with registration (for a fee) visit Coast 2 Coast Trucking Permits (coast2coasttruckingpermits.com); here you’ll also find a full list of permit offices and specific regulations and requirements associated with all states and Canadian provinces.