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Can I Buy A Semi Truck For Personal Use? (9 Important Facts)

Many people would love to have their own semi-truck for personal use. Have you ever wanted to buy a semi-truck of your own?

There are so many questions: do you need a special license? How do you insure your semi-truck for personal use?

We’ve got all of that covered in this article. Read on to find out more.

Here’s a short summary on Whether You Can Buy a Semi Truck for Personal Use:

You can buy a semi-truck for personal use. However, there are some rules you need to follow. For example, you will not be able to use the semi-truck for any kind of ‘trade’ which involves using it to make money. You still need to follow all DOT regulations that other semi-trucks do.

Can I Buy a Semi Truck for Personal Use?

If you have enough money, you can buy your own semi-truck and use it for anything you would like to. To some this may sound appealing, however, there are some factors to consider.

Semi-trucks are expensive to buy firstly, they cost a lot of money. They also cost a lot of money to maintain.

Since semi-trucks are complex and heavy-duty machines, and they can be difficult to maintain unless you have extensive mechanical knowledge.

On top of that, semi-trucks are large, heavy, and impractical to drive around. This can make it difficult to use them on a daily basis.

Semi-trucks are often heavy on fuel as well. Since they have powerful diesel engines, they can often have poor mileage, especially if they are not driven on the freeway.

That being said, a semi-truck can be practical in some cases. If you need to haul heavy cargo or machinery around, you might have a good use for a semi-truck.

Do You Need a CDL to Buy a Semi?

You do not need a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) to buy a semi-truck. That’s because the owner and the driver of the semi-truck do not need to be the same person.

However, if you want to drive the semi-truck that you bought you will need a CDL. The only way you are legally allowed to drive a semi-truck is if you have a CDL.

What Would You Need to Buy a Semi-Truck for Personal Use?

In the majority of cases, you will need to have a semi-truck financed. In this case, you will need to have a down payment as well as being able to pay the monthly installments.

You will also need to provide proof of insurance. In most cases you will need to insure the semi-truck before buying it, most companies won’t approve financing without insurance.

In some cases, you may be asked for your CDL, however, if you have someone else who will be driving the semi-truck you simply need to declare that.

Can You Drive a Semi Without a CDL for Personal Use?

The true answer is that it depends. In the majority of cases, it is safer to obtain a CDL if you are going to drive the semi-truck.

If you don’t have a CDL it can be difficult to prove that you truly are using it for personal use. There are some vague guidelines on what determines personal and commercial use.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, commerce is defined as “any trade, traffic, or transportation between points in one state and points in another state or any trade, traffic, or transportation that ‘affects’ trade, traffic, or transportation in the U.S. between points in one state and points in another.”

For example, if you are loading ATVs onto your semi-truck to transport them and rent them out to people, it will technically be considered a commercial use.

Because of the vague rules that have been put in place, the laws can be interpreted differently for each situation.

Can You Drive a Semi-Truck And Trailer for Personal Use?

You could drive a semi-truck with a trailer for personal use. However, there are some rules that you will need to follow.

You will need a CDL if you are driving the semi-truck with the trailer for commercial use. If you are using it personally you will not need a CDL.

However, if the vehicle plus the trailer is over 26,000 lbs Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) the driver must have a CDL regardless of whether it is for personal or commercial use.

What do The Regulations Say About Driving a Semi For Personal Use?

This is what the FMCSA has to say about personal conveyance:

Personal conveyance is the movement of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for personal use while off-duty… The CMV may be used for personal conveyance even if it is laden since the load is not being transported for the commercial benefit of the motor carrier at that time. Personal conveyance does not reduce a driver’s or motor carrier’s responsibility to operate a CMV safely.

The regulations state that you are allowed to drive a semi-truck for personal use, whether it is loaded with cargo or not.

When driving a semi-truck for personal use you must still abide by all laws and regulations that apply to semi-trucks.

This includes the maintenance, DOT regulations, and necessary paperwork for the vehicle.

Is it Practical to Buy a Semi Truck for Personal Use?

Semi-trucks are large, heavy, and impractical vehicles. They are difficult to drive around, especially on narrow streets with tight turns.

On top of that, they are also heavy on fuel, which means that you will most likely be spending a lot more to keep them running than your average car.

Semi-trucks also require regular maintenance, especially when they need to comply with DOT regulations. The maintenance on semi-trucks can be pricey, especially if you need to visit a mechanic.

However, buying a semi-truck can be practical in some cases. If you need to haul large amounts of cargo regularly or have a specific use for a semi-truck, it can be worth it.

How do People Use their Semi-Trucks for Personal Use?

Each person has their own use for their semi-truck. It varies from owner to owner, however, if they are for personal use, you can’t use them to make money.

For example, you could convert a trailer into a ‘camper’. This will allow you to travel with your semi-truck and always have your own accommodation.

Some semi-truck owners use them to haul heavy cargo and objects around. This could be useful on a ranch for example if you need to transport heavy machinery.

Can You Insure a Semi-Truck for Personal Use?

Technically there are no policies that cover a semi-truck for personal use. However, there are other insurance policies you can take out that will cover personal use.

For example, if you have commercial vehicle insurance, it will still cover any personal use of the semi-truck. You might even be able to knock a bit off the monthly installments since there is less risk than commercial use.

However, you could contact different insurance companies to see if they can create a personalized insurance policy for personal conveyance on your semi-truck.

How to Register a Semi Truck for Personal Use?

Registering a semi-truck for personal use can be tricky because of all the costs involved with commercial vehicles.

However, some people claimed to have registered their personal semi-trucks as recreational vehicles (RVs) which have been successful. There are some important things to remember when you’re registering your semi-truck.

For the registration trucks used for either commercial or personal use, the applicant must declare a gross weight and pay gross weight fees and a $4.00 commercial fee.

Gross weight is the sum of the empty weight in pounds of a motor vehicle’s power unit and trailer plus the weight in pounds of the load to be carried on the motor vehicle combination at any point in time. 

Here are the fees per weight range according to the DOT website:

Gross Weight (lbs)Gross Weight Fee ($)
up to 8,0007.50
8,001 to 10,00036.00
10,001 to 12,00063.00
12,001 to 14,000103.00
14,001 to 16,000121.00
16,001 to 18,000144.00
18,001 to 20,000162.00
20,001 to 22,000198.00
22,001 to 24,000216.00
24,001 to 26,000234.00
26,001 to 28,000288.00
28,001 to 30,000324.00
30,001 to 32,000378.00
32,001 to 36,000414.00
36,001 to 40,000468.00
40,001 to 45,000522.00
45,001 to 50,000576.00
50,001 to 55,000630.00
55,001 to 60,000684.00
60,001 to 65,000738.00
65,001 to 70,000792.00
70,001 to 75,000864.00
75,001 to 80,000918.00

Here’s what you will need to register your semi-truck:

  • Identification
  • Proof of insurance
  • Completed registration form (for your specific state)
  • Bill of sale which can be acquired from the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state
  • Payment for the GVWR as shown in the table above
  • Proof of ownership

You can always contact your state DMV for particular details.