How to Drive for Amazon Relay: From CDL Training to Starting a Trucking Company

How to Drive for Amazon Relay: From CDL Training to Starting a Trucking Company

Amazon offers local and relay delivery opportunities for trucking companies, owner operators, and individuals to deliver Amazon box truck or semi-trailer loads through its Amazon Relay program.

To join Amazon Relay freight network, you must meet the following minimum requirement:

  • Have an active DOT number for at least 180 days (6 months) with interstate authority and a valid MC number
  • Have a “Carrier” entity type that is Authorized for Property and For-Hire
  • Have a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Safety Rating of “Satisfactory,” “None,” or “Not Rated”

Note: You cannot lease a box truck one day and start hauling for Amazon the next.

Recommendation for new carriers: Put insurance on your personal vehicle for the first 6 months (this will save you thousands of dollars) then switch to your commercial vehicle once authorized by Amazon to haul.

If you do not have a Class A CDL yet, your first step is to get a CDL Class A Permit from your state.

How to get a CDL Permit and Commercial Driver’s License

A driver holding a Class A CDL can drive vehicles weighing 26,001 lbs. or greater, or a vehicle towing a trailer weighing more than 10,000 lbs.

To obtain a CDL permit, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Age 21 or older to drive out-of-state (interstate driving)
  • Hold a valid Class D license (license to operate any non-commercial vehicle), or are holding a ‘junior operator’s license’, for at least two years
  • Pass a vision test
  • Pass a commercial driver instruction permit test, or the written knowledge test

Once you pass your written knowledge test, you will receive a commercial learner’s permit (CLP), which can be used to practice driving a commercial motor vehicle with one of our CDL instructors. The CDL permit is valid for 180 days to a year.

Now is the time to receive one-on-one CDL training with CNS Driver Training Center and get your CDL license. You can save money by avoiding other expensive CDL schools and choose our quality 1-on-1 style CDL training with your own personal CDL instructor. Many are choosing this route and will even choose out-of-state CDL training because the price difference is so drastic, even when factoring in travel costs.

In general, truck driving schools typically cost up to $10,000, while our CDL School Programs would cost closer to $5000. We have Company Contract Training as well that is less than $4000 and might even be paid for by your company.

Learn more about all levels of truck driver training and CDL permit test preparation that we offer at our CNS Driver Training Center.

Pre-Startup Planning for you Amazon Trucking Business

The choices you make from this point forward greatly impact your startup cashflow, growth timeline, and large future payment dates. A solid business plan will list expenses and revenue expected in your new company.

The biggest reason owner-operators fail is not having enough money saved up before going on their own to manage start-up costs, maintenance emergencies, or lagging payments after finishing a load.   

Expenses can be up to $20,000/month as a startup. So, put aside money for the investments needed in your new career.

And don’t forget… location, location, location. What do we mean? 

One of the easiest ways to save thousands of dollars in insurance premiums when you first start your trucking company is the geographical location of your business. In most cases, it is best to avoid major cities or areas susceptible to severe weather.

For example, trucking insurance is expensive in Atlanta, GA. However, a new carrier can save thousands of dollars if they just start the location of their business outside of the city.

It is also important to consider your expected routes and delivery radius. Most insurance companies want you to stay interstate or within a 500 air-mile radius from your business location for the first couple of years of your business.

As you prove your safety history and show you can manage your company well, then expanding to long-haul trucking will be more affordable.

If you are committed to start as a long-haul trucking business, then expect to pay expensive insurance premiums for a couple years.

Getting a Vehicle and Trailer that meets Amazon Relay requirements

As your most expensive and most important asset, a used truck will likely cost around $60,000 or more while a new truck will cost around $100,000 or more.

Many new owner-operators cannot afford to put 20% down and will often choose to lease the truck with around a $1,000 down payment.

In the short-term, leasing is always cheaper because leasing focuses on the value of the truck at the end of the lease term lowering the initial investment with an option to purchase or refinance for the remaining value of the truck after the lease ends.

Amazon Relay works with the following equipment types:

  • Tractor: Day cab, Box Truck, and Sleeper Cab
  • Trailers: 28’ Trailer, 53’ Dry Van, and Reefer

If you just have a semi, their loadboard can filter loads by Drop and Hook that could be one-way or round trips. For Amazon box truck loads, if you have a 26′ box truck, the loadboard can filter loads in your area, pay rate, and more. 

Commercial trucking insurance requirements for Amazon Relay

There are different types of insurance available include: Primary Liability, Cargo Insurance, Physical Damage, Non-Trucking Use (Bobtail), Worker’s Compensation Insurance. You can expect to pay much higher insurance rates if you do not have 2+ years of experience. 

To drive for Amazon, carriers must have all the required insurance policies including:

  • Commercial General Liability not less than $1,000,000 per occurrence and $2,000,000 in the aggregate
  • Auto Liability not less than $1,000,000 per occurrence, including a trailer replacement coverage of $50,000
  • Cargo coverage of least $100,000
  • Workers’ Compensation insurance in all jurisdictions where your company operates
  • Employer Liability not less than $100,000 per occurrence

Amazon requires that carriers ensure the highest level of safety and performance, including compliance with safety, DOT and insurance requirements.

Need an insurance quote? Our sister company CNS Insurance can help. Fill out a quick quote to get started.

Additionally, if you need help with following DOT compliance, licenses, and drug testing requirements, you can reach out to CNS to help or look into our Trucking Startup Essentials package.

Amazon requires a safe driving record

Amazon is hesitant to work with carriers that have poor safety scores and conditional safety ratings according to the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS).

The current standard Amazon is enforcing is suspending carriers from the Amazon Relay Loadboard if their Company BASIC Score (SMS score) is over 60%.

Safety Metric**DescriptionRequired Score
Unsafe Driving PercentileYour company’s raw BASIC score for Unsafe Driving as determined by the FMCSABelow 60%
HOS Compliance PercentileYour company’s raw BASIC score for HOS Compliance as determined by the FMCSABelow 60%
Vehicle Maintenance PercentileYour company’s raw BASIC score for Vehicle Maintenance as determined by the FMCSA.Below 75%

You must not exceed any of these targets to be eligible to haul loads in the future. Suspension will remain in effect until your company resolves this matter.

You can login to the FMCSA login portal to see your company’s BASIC status.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

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