The International Registration Plan (IRP) is a registration reciprocity agreement. It regulates the registration and operation of commercial vehicles in the United States and Canada. It was established in the 1960s and early 1970s.

The process of applying for IRP registration can be confusing and time-consuming. This is especially so if you have never completed the application process before. Therefore, many interstate trucking companies rely on trucking company software. This tracks their International Registration Plan reports and payments.

IRP for Trucking

IRP recognizes the registration of commercial vehicles registered by other jurisdictions. Also, it allows for the payment of apportioned licensing fees based on the percentage of miles commercial vehicles travel. Interstate motor carriers can register in their base jurisdiction or their home state. Therefore, they pay a fee based on the portion of distance their vehicles travel within other member jurisdictions. For instance, if an interstate trucking company operates 50% in Ohio, the IRP says that the full annual fee for Ohio must be apportioned at 50%.

States and provinces that are IRP members manage the plans. There is no significant involvement from the federal government. IRP member jurisdictions collect the registration fees from their “home-based” interstate trucking companies. Therefore, they then distribute the fees to each member jurisdiction in which the companies operate.

What is IRP Used for?

The main purpose of the International Registration Plan is to promote interstate commerce. It encourages the fullest possible use of the highway system. It allows registered motor carriers to travel through all IRP member jurisdictions. The main benefit is consolidated licensing and reporting requirements. Everything is through the carrier’s base jurisdiction. In other words, carriers can register with only one jurisdiction – their home state. They only have to pay one jurisdiction. However, they can still legally engage in interstate or interprovincial commerce.

You pay a license fee to each jurisdiction in which the vehicles operate, but only need one license plate and cab card for each vehicle. Carrier vehicles with an IRP registration receive a special apportioned license plate. They also get an apportioned cab card noting which jurisdictions the vehicle may operate in. Additionally, it will note how much weight the vehicle can carry.

Who Needs an IRP Plan

Apportionable vehicles operating in multiple states or provinces must have an IRP. An apportionable vehicle is defined as any vehicle used to transport property or persons for hire in two or more member jurisdictions within the United States or Canada. It also must have two axles and a gross vehicle weight that exceeds 26,000 pounds or three or more axles.

If you have commercial vehicles crossing state lines that are over 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight or have three or more axles, you must register for an IRP account. Register in your base jurisdiction. There are certain types of vehicles that are exceptions to the definition of an apportionable vehicle. This includes recreational vehicles, government-owned vehicles, city pickup, and delivery vehicles. It also includes vehicles displaying restricted plates and buses used by chartered parties.

Applying for IRP Plates: Practical Trucker’s Guide

Do you plan to operate a qualifying commercial motor vehicle in more than one IRP jurisdiction?  If so, here’s what you need to know for obtaining IRP plates:

Have an established place of business.  This must be in the state you’ve claimed as your base jurisdiction. The business must be a physical structure with an address. You’ll need documented proof, such as a utility bill, driver’s license, tax returns, or any government documents showing corporate residency.

Determine when to apply.  IRP application and registration periods differ by jurisdiction.  But, the IRP reporting period for all jurisdictions is July 1 to June 30.

Get or complete the following:  USDOT number, FMCSA authorization, Schedule A/E and B for new accounts, Schedule C for existing accounts, or Schedule F for adding jurisdictions.

When to pay registration fees.  These fees vary by jurisdiction. You must contact your base jurisdiction office to find out what their fees and payment options are.

IRP renewal.  IRP requires drivers to renew their plates every year. Check your IRP card for renewal deadlines.  

IRP uses mileage to calculate their fees.  So, you must keep track of the miles you drove in each jurisdiction.  Our TruckingOffice TMS and ELD will make this process much easier.

Understanding IRP registration and who needs it is important. You could face significant penalties if you fail to comply with the requirements of the International Registration Plan. For more information or help, contact Trucking Office today. 

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