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Interstate vs Intrastate: What’s The Difference? 

Two often confused ideas are interstate vs intrastate commerce. The difference between the two is quite simple. Interstate commerce is trade, traffic, or transportation involving the crossing of a state boundary. To be considered interstate commerce, either the vehicle, its passengers, or cargo must cross a state boundary, or there must be the intent to cross a state boundary to be considered an interstate carrier. Versus intrastate commerce is trade, traffic or transportation within a single state.


It is important to note that if interstate commerce is included in your operations, it is mandatory to comply with the applicable federal safety regulations and operating authority rules. This is in addition to state and local requirements. You must notify the particular state in which you plan to register your vehicle(s) of your intentions to operate in interstate commerce. This is because you need to ensure that the vehicle is properly registered for purposes of the International Registration Plan (IRP), and International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA).


Your home state will also assist you by collecting the necessary fees .  Your home state will also distribute a portion of those fees to the other states in which you operate commercial motor vehicles.

Furthermore, if you operate exclusively in intrastate commerce, it is mandatory to comply with applicable state and local regulations. The only federal regulations that apply to intrastate operations are the following:

  • The commercial driver’s license (CDL) for drivers operating commercial motor vehicles.
  • Controlled substances and alcohol testing for all persons required to possess CDL.
  • Minimum levels of financial  responsibility for the intrastate transportation of certain quantities of hazardous materials and substances.