If people use their experience driving personal vehicles around the United States as representative of how everyone runs the roads, they’re likely to have a distorted view of how complicated things can really be. After all, they never have to show any special permits, and their home state license and registration work in other states with no problem. The U.S. is all one country, right?
In one sense, they’d be right. U.S. states and Canada have had to work together to figure out how to properly tax and account for mileage driven in different states or provinces because things would be complicated (and a little unfair) otherwise. Tax money from fueling up will only benefit where it’s bought, but trucks put wear and tear on the road in places where they might not necessarily be refueling. Registration in a home state generates revenue, but trucks might be hauling in multiple jurisdictions. With agreements in place between these jurisdictions, governments can make sure that they’re benefiting from the interstate and international commerce that their roads facilitate. The agreement regarding fuel tax is called the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). The agreement regarding operating mileage between jurisdictions is called the International Registration Plan (IRP).
Both the IFTA and IRP have ongoing compliance requirements to be followed and will incur their own fees. IRP fees, for example, vary by jurisdiction. They involve “apportioning” how much you’ve operated in that specific jurisdiction (by mileage) and are based on what size and weight your fleet is. If this sounds like a lot of red tape, that’s because it is. To add another dimension to the complexity, it doesn’t always make sense to participate in the IFTA or IRP.
Here are some times when you should consider getting a temporary trip permit instead:
1) You almost always haul in your home state.
If you only need to haul out of state once in a long while, it doesn’t make sense to take on both the costs and the responsibility of registering with these regulatory bodies and making sure to comply with their rules. The compliance burden can be significant. Instead, you can get a temporary trip permit and a temporary fuel permit for the states you’ll be traversing a limited number of times. These states often have “combo” trip and fuel permits to make applying easier. The regulations and requirements for obtaining a temporary permit of any kind vary by state, so make sure to check with your permit services specialist to see how your loads would stack up in the jurisdictions you’re planning on hauling to.
2) You’ve got an oversize load, an overweight load or a superload.
Even if you participate in the IFTA and IRP, you’ll still need to get temporary trucking permits for loads that are oversize, overweight or superload. These special loads are not covered by the IFTA and IRP in their entirety. You’ll still need to make sure you’re complying with the various state regulations regarding dimensions, weight, size and route. A permit services specialist like The Permit Company can work with you to determine how your vehicle would be classified across jurisdictions and help obtain the proper trucking permits for your trip.
3) You participate in the IRP but you’re not apportioned for a state you’ll be hauling in.
If you are apportioned through the IRP and haul in a set number of jurisdictions, sometimes it will make more sense to obtain a trip permit for an additional state that you don’t plan on hauling in regularly, rather than apportioning that state through the IRP. If you’re planning on going through a new state just once or twice, apportioning that jurisdiction through the IRP can mean more fees and hassles than you truly need. For those who have been IRP-registered but are unsure whether it’s right to get a temporary permit or apportion the jurisdiction, get in touch with us. We’ll help you compare costs and the regulatory burden so that you can make the right decision about your trucking permits.