How To Obtain Your Motor Carrier Operating Authority

proud-trucker-and-his-brand-new-semi-truck-tractor-2022-12-16-11-49-06-utc.jpegBelow is a rough outline of what you need to do in order to obtain your Motor Carrier Operating Authority. Before beginning these steps, you will need to form your company. This includes, but is not limited to obtaining an EIN number. Detailed requirements to forming a company will be different based on the city and state your business will be based in.

Step 1: Obtain a USDOT Number

Before applying for your MC Number, you'll first need to obtain a USDOT number. The USDOT number is used for tracking safety information during audits, compliance reviews, and crash investigations.

To apply for a USDOT number:

  1. Go to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.
  2. Click on 'Registration' and then 'USDOT Number.'
  3. Complete the online application form and submit it.
  4. You should receive your USDOT number immediately upon completion of the online registration process.
Step 2: Apply for Operating Authority (MC Number)

Once you have your USDOT number, you can apply for an MC number. The application can be done online on the FMCSA website and involves a non-refundable fee.

To apply for an MC Number:

  1. Go to the FMCSA website.
  2. Click on 'Registration' and then 'Operating Authority.'
  3. Fill out the OP-1 Application for Motor Property Carrier and Broker Authority.
  4. Pay the application fee (as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the fee was $300, but you should check for current rates).
After you've submitted your application and fee, the FMCSA will issue an MC number, but it isn't active yet.

Step 3: Obtain Insurance

Before your MC number can become active, you'll need to have proof of insurance. The minimum amount of insurance required can vary depending on the type of freight you will be carrying. Your insurance company will need to file either a BMC-91 or BMC-91X form for public liability insurance.

Step 4: BOC-3 Filing

You also need to have a BOC-3 form on file. This form assigns a legal agent for each state in which you operate. You can file it yourself, or hire a processing agent to do it for you. Processing agents will charge a fee for this service.

Step 5: Wait for MC Authority Activation

After your insurance and BOC-3 are accepted, you will need to wait approximately 20-25 days for your MC Authority to become active. During this waiting period, anyone can protest your application for authority. If your application is not protested and you have met all the requirements, your MC Authority will become active.

Step 6: Regular Updates

Once you have your MC Authority, you are required to update your information every two years. This process is called a Biennial Update, and failure to comply can result in fines and deactivation of your USDOT and MC numbers.

Remember, getting your MC number is a significant step, but there are many more aspects to starting a successful motor carrier company, such as developing a business plan, understanding the market and competition, building relationships with shippers and carriers, complying with all regulations, and ensuring excellent customer service. It's important to thoroughly research and plan for these other aspects as well.
I told my auditor that getting your authority is way too easy.

It definitely is. The path to authority is so simple that we have scammers creating multiple companies on the carrier and the broker side. The problem is completely out of control at this point and requiring extreme caution.

It also allows people who are not prepared for business ownership to easily get into something they can’t handle. I’m torn on this aspect of it, though. I mean, I wish those who are simply hurting the industry couldn’t so easily go into this business, but in the end it is really not my place or anyone else’s places to tell others what to do with their lives.

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