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What’s in a license plate? Numbers and letters, a vast majority of the time. But for people working in the trucking industry, plates are more than just tags for a vehicle; they’re essential for ensuring a business’s legality and efficiency. That’s why you should consider carefully when weighing apportioned plates vs combination plates for the vehicles in your fleet. In this article, we’ll compare the benefits, regulations, and associated costs of apportioned plates vs combination plates, so fleet managers and truckers alike can decide which plate type aligns best with their ambitions.

Apportioned Plates vs Combination Plates: What’s the Difference?

Apportioned plates are what you’ll receive when you register vehicles under the International Registration Plan (IRP). Apportioned registration lets vehicle owner-operators get their credentials in one jurisdiction, streamlining the process of cross-border operations for truckers who travel between U.S. states and Canadian provinces. 

Under the IRP, fleets must pay registration fees. However, instead of a flat fee, payment for IRP-eligible vehicles varies, based on its travel. Registration fees are calculated based on distance percentages in each jurisdiction in which the fleet or vehicle in question is operating. This mechanism ensures that each state or province involved gets a fair share of registration revenue, based on the registered fleet’s operational statistics.

Combination plates, on the other hand, are governed by individual state regulations. Combination plates are generally used by owner-operators working within specific states. For example, in the state of California, combination plates are designated for vehicles capable of carrying both a load and another vehicle (i.e., a truck and trailer), helping to streamline the registration process for intrastate operators. Combination plates may also be obtained for certain vehicles that have a weight falling below that of IRP requirements. 

Benefits of Apportioned Plates

One of the benefits of apportioned plates vs combination plates is the flexibility they offer for large fleets whose vehicles work and travel across multiple states and/or provinces. For example, a fleet operation based in Texas but with operations sprawling across the Southwest would benefit greatly from the way apportioned plates can simplify the registration process by centralizing it into a singular registration process – regardless of how many states out of which the business in question operates. 

Apportioned plates are also a resourceful option due to their cost-effectiveness, a must for larger fleets. Fee distribution and amount is based on the mileage traveled in each state, which helps ensure that fleets with apportioned registration are not overcharged for their operational travel footprint in any given state. The centralized registration process for apportioned plates also helps trucking businesses by mitigating the administrative burden, a huge boon for fleet operators having to oversee interstate operations.

Benefits of Combination Plates

Compared to apportioned plates, best suited for fleets operating across state lines, combination plates are a useful alternative for smaller vehicle fleets or intrastate operators. They’re also used for vehicles that have both commercial and personal functions. Obtaining combination plates instead of apportioned plates can save these operators money in both registration and operation, as a single registration fee covering the vehicle and the vehicle load can help trim operation costs. This can potentially translate to lower insurance premiums, as well, further highlighting the cost-saving factor of combination plates. 

Regulations, Requirements, and Associated Costs 

For vehicles to fall under the International Registration Plan requirements to register for apportioned plates, the vehicle (or vehicles!) must have two axles and a gross vehicle weight of over 26,000 pounds, or have three or more axles (without weight being a factor), or be used in combination, with the weight of this combination exceeding 26,000 pounds. 

Because of the rigorous regulatory adherence required by the IRP, some insurance providers may offer favorable premiums for fleets with apportioned plates. 

For combination plates, a truck tractor or truck with a gross weight of over 10,000 pounds that is used in conjunction with a semi trailer with a gross weight in excess of six thousand pounds must be registered with a combination plate for a gross weight that is equal to the combined weight of every vehicle in the combination. Some requirements may vary, depending on the state in which the vehicle is being registered. 

Let i2290 Help You Out 

Weighing apportioned plates vs combination plates is an important crossroads for fleet managers and truckers to navigate, so they can make a choice that meets the needs and goals of their business. But while you ponder plates, don’t let filing your Form 2290 and paying your Heavy Vehicle Use Tax fall to the wayside! 

The HVUT can be all-too-easy to forget, which is why i2290 is here to make filing the Form 2290 and paying the HVUT as easy as 1, 2, 3! Simply create an account with us, answer a few questions about your business and vehicles, and you’ll receive your stamped Schedule 1 in minutes. We also have a dedicated support staff that are always present to answer any questions you may have about any part of the process.

Let us help you breeze right through the 2290 filing process by signing up for an account with i2290 today!Special note: This article is for general purposes, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, investment, or accounting advice. The best way to ensure you’re filing correctly and paying appropriate taxes is by following IRS regulations and consulting with a tax professional.

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