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For both the new and the experienced truck driver, buying a new semi truck can be an intense, nerve-wracking experience. While the freedom of owning your own vehicle is exciting, there can be a lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through, both before and after purchasing. While it may not be glamorous, all of the forms, documentation, and other paperwork you must keep track of are essential for buying and maintaining ownership of a semi truck. These records are how you establish and prove your ownership of a vehicle, enable insurance and registration, and help you avoid legal issues later down the line. 

But all of this paperwork can be a lot to keep track of, so here we’ve compiled a list of the documents you’ll need when buying a semi truck. Let’s begin! 

Pre-Purchase Forms & Documentation

When you decide on buying a semi truck that best suits your career and your lifestyle, there’s some paperwork you’re going to need right off the bat. 

Title Transfer

A title transfer is the name of the legal process of transferring ownership of a vehicle from the person selling it to the buyer (that’s you!). This document is vital to have, as it establishes your ownership of the vehicle, and will be what allows you to obtain insurance and registration for your new truck. Vehicles are required to be titled in the name of the buyer within 30 days from the date of sale.

Bill of Sale 

Similarly, a bill of sale is the document that confirms the legal transfer of ownership of the vehicle from the person selling to the buyer. This document is significant because it serves as a record of the transaction, establishes your ownership of the vehicle, and can help shut down any legal disputes before they have a chance to start. 

Vehicle History Report

You’ll also need a vehicle history report for the truck you’ve purchased. This report provides detailed information about the truck’s past. This includes accidents, repairs made to the vehicle, and any and all previous owners. The vehicle history report can help you avoid accidentally buying a vehicle with hidden damage or any other issues that could prevent you from owning and operating it safely. 


Last, but not least for necessary pre-purchase paperwork: insurance! Hopefully you’re pretty familiar with this one. Insurance is legally required when buying a semi truck before you are able to actually take over operation of the vehicle. This is in order to comply with legal requirements, cover any unexpected expenses, and generally protect the investment you’ve made. There are different forms of insurance you may need, including physical damage insurance, liability insurance, and cargo insurance. 

Post-Purchase Forms & Documentation

Once you’ve actually purchased your semi truck—well, first of all, congrats! Now here are other pieces of paperwork you’ll want to have for your new vehicle. 

International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)

The International Fuel Tax Agreement, or IFTA, is an agreement between the lower 48 states in the U.S. and Canadian provinces that simplifies fuel reporting and tax payments for carriers who operate in multiple jurisdictions. A carrier with IFTA receives an IFTA license, as well as two decals for each qualifying vehicle it operates, and the carrier will also be required to file a quarterly fuel tax report. It’s important to remember to accurately report fuel usage, as this will help you avoid penalties and fines.

Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT)

HVUT, or the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, is a federal tax imposed on heavy vehicles that have a gross weight equal to or more than 55,000 pounds (or 75,000 for agricultural vehicles) and operate on public highways. Once you’ve completed Form 2290 and paid the HVUT, you’ll receive a stamped Schedule 1, which you’ll need to register your new truck with the DMV. 

Unified Carrier Registration

Your Unified Carrier Registration, or UCR, is a federally mandated registration system for commercial vehicles that operate in interstate and international commerce, and collects fees based on the size of the fleet. 

Maintenance Records

Along with your pre-and post-purchase documents, this maintenance paperwork will help you ensure that things are ship-shape after buying a semi truck.

Maintenance Records

Maintenance records help track your vehicle’s service history, demonstrate that you’ve been staying compliant with safety regulations, and serve as documentation of repairs and modifications made to the vehicle.

Maintenance records are important when buying a semi truck, because they provide a detailed history of service and maintenance of your vehicle, which give you a way to best determine the overall condition of your truck, and identify any potential issues with the vehicle. Keeping your maintenance records as up-to-date as possible, besides keeping you and your business compliant with safety regulations, can help you demonstrate the reliability of your vehicle and maintain resale value, while avoiding any potential warranty issues.

Examples of maintenance records include brake repair records, tire replacement records, and oil change records.

Inspection Reports

Inspection reports are another important document to have before and after purchasing a semi truck, because they help identify potential issues with the safety of the vehicle. These reports provide an overview of the vehicle’s condition, and highlight possible problems that may need to be confronted and addressed before your truck is road-ready.

Examples of inspection reports include emissions inspections, brake inspections, and annual inspection paperwork. 

i2290 Makes Some Things Easy

When you’re buying a semi truck, there’s a lot of paper parts to keep track of, and that can take a lot of time and stress. It’s best to simplify things when you can! That’s why i2290 is around to help you quickly file and pay your HVUT, secure in the knowledge that a whole team of dedicated customer service representatives are there, waiting if you need help.

Our process is simple, requiring you to answer a few questions about your vehicles and the business you operate. Then our software automatically calculates your taxes for you, and you’ll receive an IRS-stamped Schedule 1 in minutes, which you’ll always be able to access online. To get started, create an account with i2290 today!

Special note: This article is for informational 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 paying appropriate taxes is by following IRS regulations and consulting with a professional.

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