Trucks and vans, two types of vehicles common as commercial vehicles, operated by DR in Copenhagen, Denmark

A commercial vehicle is any type of motor vehicle used for transporting goods or paying passengers. Depending on laws and designations, a commercial vehicle can be any broad type of motor vehicle used commercially or for business purposes.


In the United States, a vehicle is designated "commercial" when it is titled or registered to a company. This is a broad definition, as commercial vehicles may be fleet vehicles, company cars, or other vehicles used for business. Vehicles that are designed to carry more than 15 passengers are considered a commercial vehicle. Variations may exist from state-to-state on which "commercial vehicles" are prohibited on certain routes and lanes and between homeowner associations, which may employ broader definitions than their municipalities with regard to their own parking restrictions.[1]

Broadly defined, a vehicle may be considered a commercial vehicle if it:

A vehicle can be used for a business, if not exclusively, and remain privately licensed, depending on the amount of time used for business.

Legal definitions

In the United States, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration defines a "commercial motor vehicle" as any self-propelled or towed vehicle used on a public highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle:[3]

  1. Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more
  2. Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation;
  3. Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, not used to transport passengers for compensation;
  4. Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous.

The federal definition, though followed closely, is meant to accommodate and remain flexible to each state's definitions.

The European Union defines a "commercial motor vehicle" as any motorized road vehicle, that by its type of construction and equipment is designed for, and capable of transporting, whether for payment or not:[4]

  1. More than nine persons, including the driver;
  2. Goods and "standard fuel tanks". This means the tanks permanently fixed by the manufacturer to all motor vehicles of the same type as the vehicle in question and whose permanent fitting lets fuel be used directly, both for propulsion and, where appropriate, to power a refrigeration system. Gas tanks fitted to motor vehicles for the direct use of diesel as a fuel are considered standard fuel tanks.

Commercial truck classification

Further information: Truck classification

Commercial trucks are classified according to the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Commercial vehicles are divided into 8 classes based upon the gross vehicle weight (GVW). The United States Department of Transportation classifies commercial trucks with eight classes:[5]

Examples of commercial vehicles

Commercial vehicles are sometimes sought after for historic preservation as classic cars. News about preservation can be found in magazines such as Hemmings Motor News and Heritage Commercials.

Legal issues

Commercial vehicle accidents and injuries are often more complex than regular car accidents, often involving additional concerns, background checks on operator driving records, and corporate maintenance records.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Jackson, Jimmy. "What really constitutes a commercial vehicle? Time for a clearer answer when it come to condos". The Virginia Pilot. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  2. ^ [1] Archived 2020-06-18 at the Wayback Machine -commercial vehicles
  3. ^ US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations §390.5
  4. ^ EC Council Directive 68/297, substituted by EC Council Directive 85/347
  5. ^ [2] Commercial truck classification
  6. ^ Catania, Peter. "Special Considerations In Commercial Vehicle Accidents And Injuries". Catania & Catania. Archived from the original on 15 June 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.