Managing Your Fleet - IRP Registration & Renewal | ABS Tag and Title

Managing Your Fleet: Everything You Need to Know About IRP Registration and Renewal

November 5, 2019


Keep Your Fleet On the Road

As the fleet manager at your company, you handle multiple challenges every day. You do what’s necessary to make sure your drivers drive safely. You also play a huge role in keeping your vehicles on the road. Keeping commercial vehicles on the road includes keeping IRP registrations up-to-date.

Whether you’re new in your position or are a seasoned fleet manager, keeping your IRP account current keeps your drivers, your customers, and your products on the road. If you’re an owner-operator of a fleet vehicle, this post pertains to you too.

Features of the International Registration Plan

Essentially a plan to simply registration fee processes for each state where fleet vehicles travel, the International Registration Plan (IRP) began in 1994. Imagine a scenario where you operate a fleet vehicle in multiple states. Let’s say each state requires a unique registration card or tag. Of course, each state also charges a fee for your vehicle to travel over its boundaries.

One of the unique features of this plan is that each vehicle gets one apportioned license plate and one registration card. The card, kept inside the vehicle cab, allows travel in multiple states. This certainly cuts down on paperwork, but also makes the drivers’ lives less complicated.

Who Needs IRP Registration?

Your company may operate what it calls fleet vehicles. Fleet vehicles are different than the ones each employee drives to work each day. Even if an employee uses a vehicle for work-related activities, unless they’re driving a company-owned vehicle, they don’t drive one of the fleet vehicles.

Fleet vehicles, in this case, have a much different meaning. These are not the sedans typically issued for employee use.  The IRP defines a fleet of vehicles as one or more apportioned vehicles registered in the same jurisdictions.

If you’re new to the task, you should have electronic (or paper) files on each of your fleet vehicles. Typically you can identify whether a specific vehicle needs IRP registration by the following:

  • Used for inter-state travel.
  • Used for transportation of property.
  • Used for the transportation of persons.
  • 2 axels and registered gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 lbs.
  • 3 or more axels regardless of gross weight.

Keep in mind even if your company only operates one fleet vehicle, if it meets the above requirements, you must obtain IRP registration.

Documents Needed for IRP Registration

This is an international plan because it operates in the U.S. and certain Canadian provinces. Registration, however, happens at the state level. Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for state-specific requirements.

Before you register, you need a base jurisdiction. Your base jurisdiction is the physical location of your business. It must have a street or road name, not a post office box. Proof of business location can include:

  • Utility bills in the company name.
  • Documents filed with your state showing corporate residency.
  • Bank Statements
  • Tax Returns
  • Heavy Vehicle Use Tax Form

You’ll also need various forms and schedules required by the IRP. Usually, each state makes an instruction manual available outlining the various rules and regulations of registration. To make things easier, you may also use a service that specializes in helping your company manage its IRP registration.

Don’t Forget to Renew

Once your IRP approves your registration, you’ll get an apportioned license plate for each fleet vehicle. You’ll also receive a cab card for the inside of each vehicle. A registration is valid for 12 months. If you don’t renew and an employee drives the vehicle with an expired registration, it can create a legal issue for you and the driver.

Most jurisdictions mail renewal packets about 90 days before your current registration expires. Each jurisdiction also has deadlines for when they need your completed renewal forms, including proof of taxes, and payment.

Included with your renewal packet you should find the following:

  • Renewal Checklist – IRP-33
  • Renewal Printout
  • Instructions – IRP-34

The renewal printout contains all information currently on file for your account, including vehicle information.

How Much Does it Cost to Register or Renew?

Several factors go into fee calculations for your apportioned plate and cab card. Since you register with your jurisdiction’s state, you’ll pay a registration fee determined by your base state. Each base jurisdiction calculates fees based on gross vehicle weight and the states where you’ll register your vehicles. Some carriers only register in 1-2 states, some register in all the lower 48 states, while others also register for travel in Canada.

Miles also matter. The cost of your IRP apportioned plates and card depends on the percentage of miles each of your fleet vehicles travel in each jurisdiction. Fees usually also include other criteria specific to each vehicle.

The only way you’ll know the exact cost of your registration or renewal is by submitting all required documents. You should then receive an invoice with your complete charges.


Along with your IRP registration, you should also understand the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). If your fleet vehicles require IRP registrations, they also may require IFTA. IFTA is a system used to report fuel-use between the U.S. and Canada.

Here’s how IFTA works.

Every time you buy fuel for one of your commercial vehicles, you pay a per-gallon fuel tax Those taxes go into your account and each quarter you submit a fuel tax report. The report includes miles traveled in each jurisdiction and gallons of fuel purchased in each jurisdiction. Using data from the report you’ll calculate your average fuel mileage. Based on your calculations, you determine the fuel tax paid by you to each jurisdiction.

Transferring of funds to each jurisdiction isn’t your responsibility. The jurisdiction where you register your IFTA and IRP ensures all funds get transferred appropriately.

Need Help Managing Your IRP Account?

Hopefully, this post clarified information about your IRP account. Registering and renewing are only two tasks associated with fleet management. With so many details and routine changes, maintaining your IRP account can get tedious. Whether you run one or many fleet vehicles, it’s nice to know you have options for getting assistance with your IRP registrations.

If you have questions about IRP registration or want to take advantage of our wide range of motor carrier services, contact us today.


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