E-Permits vs. Printed Permits: State Overview

August 11, 2023

Paper permits, or electronic permits - which one do you need? Well, that can depend on what the state(s) your vehicle is traveling through. Where do things stand on this topic now? Let's take a closer look at the printed vs. e-permit debate.

States not “all in” on electronic credentials

Electronic credentials are quickly replacing the need to carry paper documents in the cab of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). However, it’s not yet safe to assume they are accepted in every state, or for every required credential.

Many electronic documents already allowed

Guidance from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) clarifies when electronic documents can be used in lieu of paper copies during roadside inspections. The guidance can help drivers, motor carriers, and enforcement officers understand:

·        Which documents can be provided electronically, and

·        Which documents must still be available as paper copies.

Almost all documents required by the regulations in 49 CFR parts 300-399 can be stored electronically. Records that fit in this category include:

·        Hours-of-service documents,

·        Medical cards,

·        Medical waivers/exemptions,

·        Shipping documents (non-hazardous materials),

·        Lease agreements, 

·        Daily vehicle inspection reports, and

·        Annual vehicle inspection report. However, inspection stickers (when used) must continue to be affixed to vehicles and trailers.

Documents that must be available as hard copies include:

·        Driver’s licenses, and

·        Hazmat shipping papers.

Carriers transporting dangerous goods in Canada may be able to use electronic shipping papers if they:

·        Maintain an equivalent level of safety, and

·        Obtain an equivalency certificate from Transport Canada.

As with paper documents, electronic documents must be complete, accurate, legible, and signed if a signature is required.

What about other credentials?

Documents not covered by CVSA’s guidance include those relating to:

·        Registration,

·        Fuel tax,

·        Insurance,

·        Over-dimensional permits, and

·        Canadian daily vehicle inspections.

Any of these might be accepted in electronic format. However, it depends on state, local, provincial, and territorial laws and regulations. Always check to confirm which format is acceptable prior to traveling through a jurisdiction.

Apportioned registration and fuel tax

As of January 1, 2019, drivers of CMVs may carry their International Registration Plan (IRP) cab cards and International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) licenses in electronic format. IFTA decals must still be affixed to the vehicle.

IFTA and IRP electronic documentation must be accessible by tablet or smart phone. However, internet access may be limited or unavailable during a roadside inspection. As a result, officials recommend saving the credentials in a PDF format instead of a link.

Permits (IRP, IFTA, over-dimensional)

This varies by state. In many states, these permits are not accepted in electronic format and must be presented in paper form.

Electronic credentials are replacing the need to carry paper documents in the cab of the truck, and they’ll ultimately become the norm. Until then, be sure your drivers have the right documents in the acceptable format.

Let J. J. Keller assist you with your DOT Authority number or call 888.473.4638 for more information.

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