Commercial Vehicle Truck Lettering Requirements

Lettering on commercial vehicles is governed at every level of government.  There are federal laws that need to be followed as well as state and local laws that can make your overall requirements very confusing to keep track of.

Federal Requirements

At the federal level, lettering on commercial vehicles is governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  Every commercial vehicle is required to display the USDOT number and they also must include the business entity that owns or controls the vehicle.  The name displayed on the vehicle must match the name of the entity on the truck’s form MCS-150.

The rules for New York State are the same as federal rules only requiring the USDOT number and business entity name.  This requirement is for all vehicles with a gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more.

Obtaining and USDOT number is relatively easy to do and it is free.  Visit for more information on obtaining a free USDOT number.

New York City Requirements

While New York State and the federal government have the same requirements, New York City has additional requirements that you need to be aware of.  The New York City Traffic Rules require that a commercial vehicle must display the owner’s name and address in permanent lettering that is 3 inches high.  The lettering must be on both sides of the vehicle and be in a color that contrasts with the color of the vehicle. You cannot put white letters on a white truck.  There is no rule regarding what font can be used, however, the lettering must be legible during the day from at least 50 feet away.

Requirements for the USDOT number are similar.  They must be on both sides of the vehicle, must contrast with the color of the vehicle and while the number does not have to be 3 inches in height, they must be legible from 50 feet away when the vehicle is stationary.

If you are buying a new vehicle or your current vehicle is not in compliance, call Burhani Signs and Graphics.  We work with many vehicle owners to make sure their vehicles are up to code.

Is it Legal to Wrap your Vehicle?

vehicle being wrapped

A Car Wrap is a Great Way to Promote Your Business

A Car Wrap on your commercial vehicle is a great way to promote your business, but some laws need to be followed for the wrap to be legal.  Mainly, you do not want to reduce the driver’s visibility.  In New York, you must ensure that your windows pass the inspection laws that took effect in January 2017.  For a car to pass an inspection, a windshield and front side windows must allow at least 70% of light to pass through.  The rear side windows must also allow for 70% of light to pass through for passenger vehicles.  The same rule applies to the rear window unless the car is equipped with driver and passenger side mirrors.

For a Multi-purpose vehicle, or MPV, or SUVs, the rear side windows can be tinted to any darkness.  The same rules regarding side mirrors apply to the back windows.

We Ensure Your Vehicle Wrap is Legal

While you may add tints to your windows as long as they are within the legal guidelines, when you wrap your car for advertising, you mustn’t use any graphics on any windows that require 70% of light to pass through.  The New York State laws, which are identical to federal regulations, are in place for the safety of the driver and passengers, and they allow law enforcement to see and make eye contact with drivers. 

Law enforcement must be able to see through the window in case a driver is driving erratically to determine if a driver is in distress, such as having a heart attack at the wheel or if the driver is in any way impaired.

There have been several occasions where we have been contacted by people who had their commercial vehicles wrapped only to find that the wrap was illegal and they needed the wrap to be removed immediately.  We will never wrap a vehicle in a manner that is not legal.  However, that doesn’t mean that your wrapped vehicle is permitted everywhere you may go.

If Your Travel, Make Sure Your Wrapped Vehicle is Legal

While you can wrap your vehicle in New York, including the five boroughs, and on Long Island, if you plan to drive your car out of state, you should be aware that some places have local laws prohibiting moving billboards including advertising-wrapped vehicles.

If you are considering wrapping your vehicle, you also need to consider where you live. For example, if you live in a coop or within a homeowner’s association, there may be rules prohibiting parking vehicles that have advertising on them. Therefore, if you live in such an area, you may want to ensure you can park your car in your personal garage, or you must make alternative plans not to cause an issue where you live.

If you have any questions about vehicle wraps or you want to have your car wrapped, give us a call at (718) 528-0530 or check out our vehicle wrap page.