In addition to filing the appropriate forms, all applicants for motor carrier, forwarder, and broker authorities must have specific insurance and legal process agent documents on file before the FMCSA will issue the actual authorities. The required filings vary, based on the types of registrations involved.
Applicants should be prepared to contact their insurance agents to request filing of the required forms immediately after obtaining their designated docket number. These filings must be received within 90 days after the FMCSA has published public notice of intention to register the applicant. (Applicants will be notified by letter of their docket number and date of publication in the FMCSA Register.) Applicants are cautioned to ensure that the name and address of the business as set out in all pre-registration filings matches exactly the information provided in their Application filings.
Any deviation will result in rejection of the supplemental pre-registration filings.
Failure to comply promptly with all pre-registration requirements will result in dismissal of the application. Refunds of filing fees are not permitted.
In government language what most people call a "trucker" or a "trucking company" is called a "motor carrier" or sometimes just a "carrier." If you are attempting to fill out a form asking you or your company what kind of trucking activities you are engaged in, the following simplified definitions may be helpful. The word "company" is used below as shorthand to mean any person, partnership, corporation, etc., engaged in these activities.
A company that provides truck transportation. There are two types of motor carriers, private carriers and for-hire carriers. To operate as an interstate motor carrier, either as a private or as a for-hire carrier, a company must register with FMCSA.
A company that provides truck transportation of its own cargo, usually as a part of a business that produces, uses, sells and/or buys the cargo being hauled.
A company that provides truck transportation of cargo belonging to others and is paid for doing so. To operate as an interstate for-hire carrier, a company must also register with FMCSA. There are two types of for-hire carriers, common carriers and contract carriers. A for-hire carrier may be both a common and a contract carrier, but must file separate registrations to obtain both licenses.
Before January 1, 1996, this was a company that provided for-hire truck transportation to the general public. The services offered and the prices charged were published in a public tariff and these were the only prices the common carrier could charge.
Before January 1, 1996, this was a company that provided for-hire truck transportation to specific, individual shippers based upon private contracts between the carrier and each shipper, stipulating the services offered and the prices charged to each.
Selecting "Common" or "Contract":
The Application forms require an applicant to designate whether it is registering as a "common carrier" or a "contract carrier." The historical difference between these two types is reflected in the definitions immediately above. The ICC Termination Act of 1995 defines contract carriage as truck transportation provided under a contract, but, effective January 1, 1996, it no longer distinguishes between common or contract carriers. However, the Act specifically authorizes FMCSA to continue registering applicants as either common or contract carriers. The current principal distinction between the two types is that common carrier applicants must file proof of cargo insurance while contract carrier applicants are not required to do so.
A company that arranges for the truck transportation of cargo belonging to others, utilizing for-hire carriers to provide the actual truck transportation. The Forwarder does assume responsibility for the cargo from origin to destination and usually does take possession of the cargo at some point during the transportation. Forwarders typically assemble and consolidate less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments into truckload shipments at origin and disassemble and deliver LTL shipments at destination. Forwarders must register with FMCSA.
Also a company that arranges for the truck transportation of cargo belonging to others, utilizing for-hire carriers to provide the actual truck transportation. However, the Broker does not assume responsibility for the cargo and usually does not take possession of the cargo. Brokers must register with FMCSA.
These trucking definitions are simplified for easier understanding. Legally acceptable definitions of these activities would be longer, more complex, and supported by the results of many administrative proceedings, court decisions and judicial opinions. If there is any question about the applicability of these simplified definitions, a legal authority should be consulted.
The FMCSA monitors and ensures compliance with regulations governing both safety (all carriers) and commerce (for-hire carriers). Companies may find they are subject to both registration requirements-USDOT Number and MC Number-or either one separately.
The FMCSA monitors and ensures compliance with motor carrier safety (all carriers) and commercial (for-hire, non-exempt carriers) regulations. Companies may find they are subject to registration requirements for both safety (safety registration) and commercial regulation (operating authority registration). Companies subject to the safety requirements are also required to obtain a USDOT Number.
The FMCSA registration process requires that companies define the type of Motor Carrier, Broker, Intermodal Equipment Provider (IEP), Cargo Tank Facility, Shipper and/or Freight Forwarder business operation they plan to establish. The Agency administers the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) and Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) that govern interstate - and some intrastate - commercial trucking and bus industries.
This determination is based on self-classification of a company's planned business operation using criteria such as cargo, operation, and company type.
In general, companies that do the following are required to have interstate Operating Authority (MC number) in addition to a DOT number:
Operate as for-hire carriers (for a fee or other compensation)
Transport passengers in interstate commerce
Transport federally-regulated commodities or arranging for their transport, in interstate commerce
FMCSA operating authority is often identified as an "MC," "FF," or "MX" number, depending on the type of authority that is granted. Unlike the USDOT Number application process, a company may need to obtain multiple operating authorities to support its planned business operations. Operating Authority dictates the type of operation a company may run and the cargo it may carry.
Who Does Not Need Authority?
All of this also dictates the level of insurance/financial responsibilities a company must maintain. Carriers not required to have operating authority include:
Private carriers (carriers that transport their own cargo)
“For-hire" carriers that exclusively haul exempt commodities (cargo that is not federally regulated)
Carriers that operate exclusively within a federally designated "commercial zone" that is exempt from interstate authority rules. A commercial zone is, for example, a geographic territory that includes multiple states bordering on a major metropolitan city, such as Virginia/Maryland/Washington, DC
TYPES OF AUTHORITY
The type(s) of Operating Authority requested will impact the type and level of insurance that is required by FMCSA. Therefore, carefully select only the type(s) of Operating Authority relevant to the business. FMCSA does not refund application fees. Descriptions of the different types of interstate Operating Authority are as follows:
Motor Carrier of Property (except Household Goods)
An authorized for-hire Motor Carrier that transports regulated commodities (except household goods) for the general public in exchange for payment that is based on published tariff rates or negotiated contracts. Motor Carriers of Property (except Household Goods) must file proof of both public liability (bodily injury and property damage — BI & PD) and cargo insurance with FMCSA in order to obtain interstate Operating Authority. Motor Carriers of Property (except Household Goods) must file proof of public liability (BI & PD) insurance with FMCSA in order to obtain interstate Operating Authority. Cargo insurance is not required.
Motor Carrier of Household Goods (Moving Companies)
An authorized for-hire Motor Carrier that transports only household goods for the general public in exchange for payment that is based on published tariff rates or negotiated contracts. Household goods are personal items that will be used in a home. They include items shipped from a factory or store, if purchased with the intent to use in a home, and transported at the request of the householder who pays for the transportation charges. Motor Carriers of Household Goods must file proof of both public liability (BI & PD) and cargo insurance with FMCSA in order to obtain interstate Operating Authority.
Broker of Property (except Household Goods)
An individual, partnership, or corporation that receives payment for arranging the transportation of property (excluding household goods) belonging to others by using an authorized Motor Carrier. A Broker does not assume responsibility for the property and never takes possession of it.
Broker of Household Goods
An individual, partnership, or corporation that receives payment for arranging the transportation of household goods belonging to others by using an authorized Motor Carrier. A Broker does not assume responsibility for the household goods and never takes possession of the goods. Household goods are personal items and property that will be used in a home. An individual, partnership or corporation requires registration as a household goods broker if the motor carrier providing transportation will also provide some or all of the following additional services, binding and nonbinding estimates, inventorying, protective packing and unpacking of individual items at personal residences and loading and unloading at personal residences.
United States-based Enterprise Carrier of International Cargo (except Household Goods)
A company that transports international cargo (excluding household goods) and is headquartered in the United States, but is owned or controlled (greater than 55%) by a Mexican citizen or resident alien. International cargo must originate in or be destined for a foreign country. Enterprise Carriers are not classified as either common or contract Motor Carriers.
United States-based Enterprise Carrier of International Household Goods
A company that transports international household goods and is headquartered in the United States, but is owned or controlled (greater than 55%) by a Mexican citizen or resident alien. Household goods are personal items that will be used in a home. They include items shipped from a factory or store, if purchased with the intent to use in a home, and transported at the request of the householder who pays for the transportation charges. International household goods must originate in or be destined for a home in a foreign country.
Enterprise Carriers are not classified as either common or contract Motor Carriers.
Applicants for authority to operate as motor carriers of household goods or freight forwarders of household goods also must offer arbitration as a means of settling loss and damage disputes on collect-on-delivery shipments. (See 49 U.S.C. 14708.)
Freight Forwarder Authority
Motor Passenger Carrier Authority
Non-North America-Domiciled Motor Carriers
Mexico-based Carriers for Motor Carrier Authority to Operate Beyond U.S. Municipalities and Commercial Zones on the U.S.-Mexico Border (Includes Instructions in Spanish)
Mexican Certificate of Registration for Foreign Motor Carriers and Foreign Motor Private Carriers Under 49 U.S.C. 13902
What is a USDOT Number?
Companies that operate commercial vehicles transporting passengers or hauling cargo in interstate commerce must be registered with the FMCSA and must have a USDOT Number. Also, commercial intrastate hazardous materials carriers who haul quantities requiring a safety permit must register for a USDOT Number.
The USDOT Number serves as a unique identifier when collecting and monitoring a company's safety information acquired during audits, compliance reviews, crash investigations, and inspections.
Do I Need One?
You are required to obtain a USDOT number if you have a vehicle that:
Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or
Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous and transported in a quantity requiring placarding.
AND is involved in Interstate commerce:
Trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States—
Between a place in a State and a place outside of such State (including a place outside of the United States);
Between two places in a State through another State or a place outside of the United States; or
Between two places in a State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States.
You are required by FMCSA to obtain USDOT Number and comply with the Federal Regulations.
How to Comply with Federal Regulations
It is the responsibility of motor carrier operators and drivers to know and comply with all applicable Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Safety compliance and safe operations translate into saved lives and property.
States that Require a DOT Number
Apart from federal regulations, some states require commercial motor vehicle registrants to obtain a USDOT Number.
These states include:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all entities under its jurisdiction to update their information every two years. You are required to provide this update every two years even if your company has not changed its information, has ceased interstate operations since the last update, or is no longer in business and you did not notify FMCSA.
Failure to complete a Biennial Update will result in deactivation of your USDOT number and may result in civil penalties of up to $1,000 per day, not to exceed $10,000.
What is the Deadline to Update?
Filing schedule: Each motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider must file the appropriate form at the following times:
Before it begins operations; and
Every 24 months according to the following schedule:
USDOT number ending in:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
Must file by last day of:
If the next-to-last digit of its USDOT Number is odd, the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider shall file its update in every odd-numbered calendar year. If the next-to-last digit of the USDOT Number is even, the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider shall file its update in every even-numbered calendar year.
In order to complete the registration online, you'll need your USDOT number, assigned PIN, EIN/SSN, and Company Official information. You can request a PIN mailed or e-mailed to you.
Carriers needing to complete the Motor Carrier Identification Report (MCS-150) OR the Combined Identification and Hazardous Materials Safety Permit Application (MCS-150B) may do so online through the FMCSA Registration Web site.
In addition to filing the appropriate forms, all applicants for motor carrier, forwarder, and broker authorities must have specific insurance and legal process agent documents on file before the FMCSA will issue the authorities. The required filings vary, based on the types of registrations involved.
Liability and cargo insurance forms must be submitted directly (online) by the home office of the insurance company furnishing the coverage. The FMCSA does not furnish copies of insurance forms.
New Entrant Safety Assurance Program
New Entrant Safety Assurance Programs affect U.S. and Canada-based motor carriers. New Entrant is a motor carrier not domiciled in Mexico that applies for a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) identification number, in order to initiate operations in interstate commerce.
Becoming a New Entrant
All new entrant motor carriers must complete an application package for US DOT number. For-hire motor carriers must also complete applications for operating authority (common, contract, broker of property, freight-forwarder). Once the application package is completed, the carrier will be granted new entrant registration (USDOT number).
After being issued a new entrant registration, the carrier will be subject to an 18-month safety-monitoring period. During this safety-monitoring period, the carrier will receive a safety audit and have their roadside crash and inspection information closely evaluated. The carrier will be required to demonstrate it has the necessary systems in place to ensure basic safety management controls. Failure to demonstrate basic safety management controls may result in the carrier having their new entrant registration revoked.
The New Entrant Period
The New Entrant will be monitored during the initial 18-month period.
The New Entrant must:
Maintain up-to-date records
Conduct periodic inspections and perform maintenance on CMVs.
Pass the Safety Audit
Conduct a Safety Audit on the New Entrant
Monitor safety performance through roadside inspections
Grant permanent authority, if safe
The Safety Audits and Compliance Reviews
Who is involved?
A certified U.S. federal safety investigator, state or provincial enforcement officer.
The motor carrier (possibly including managers, drivers, mechanics, and other staff).
When will a Safety Audit or review occur?
Within the 18-month monitoring period.
When will Compliance Reviews/Intervention occur?
At any time FMCSA safety data indicates problems.
Where will these take place?
Generally audits, compliance reviews/interventions take place at the principal place of business.
Automatic Failure of the Safety Audit
A New Entrant will AUTOMATICALLY FAIL the Safety Audit for violations related to:
Alcohol and Drug Violations
No alcohol and/or drug testing program.
No RANDOM alcohol and/or drug testing program.
Using a driver who refused a required alcohol or drug test.
Using a driver the company knows had a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or greater.
Using a driver who failed to complete required follow-up procedures after testing positive for drugs.
A New Entrant fails the Safety Audit for knowingly:
Using a driver without a valid CDL.
Using a disqualified driver.
Using a driver with a revoked, suspended, or cancelled CDL.
Using a medically unqualified driver.
Operating a motor vehicle without having in effect the required level of insurance.
Failing to require drivers to make hours-of-service records.
Repairs and Inspections Violations
Operating a vehicle declared Out-of-Service for safety deficiencies before repairs are made.
Not performing OOS repairs reported in driver-vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs).
Operating a CMV not periodically inspected.
Results of the Safety Audit
If passed, FMCSA will continue to monitor the New Entrant’s safety compliance and performance.
If failed, New Entrants must satisfactorily implement a corrective action to correct safety management practices. Failure to do so will result in immediate revocation of U.S. DOT registration.
HHG and ADA Compliance
Some New Entrant carriers are also required to be in compliance with:
Household Goods (HHG) Regulations
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Compliance with HHG and ADA requirements will not be a factor in determining the outcome of a Safety Audit, but may result in further investigation by other federal and state agencies.
Carriers may not register for a new U.S. DOT number to avoid paying civil penalties or avoid previous OOS Orders. If a carrier provides false information or hides information when it applies or reapplies for a U.S. DOT number, the carrier may be issued an OOS Order, and/or be fined.