If you plan to haul regulated freight across state lines, you’ll need to apply for a Motor Carrier (MC) Number also known as, operating authority. The MC Number is assigned to a carrier who transports interstate, regulated freight by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA is the government agency that regulates the trucking industry.
Applying for a USDOT Number is free. However, depending on your trucking company’s operation, for instance whether you are hauling interstate or intrastate freight, you may need more than just a DOT Number. If you’re interested in learning more about how much it costs to get authority and start a trucking company check out our breakdown here.
If everything runs smoothly, filling out the paperwork to get a USDOT Number can take a couple of hours. However, starting a trucking company and getting active authority takes more than just applying for a USDOT number.
A Registered Agent is a person selected to receive service of process if your company is involved in a lawsuit. Your Registered Agent can be an officer or employee of your company. You are required to designate a Registered Agent when you form a business entity. Your state will also direct all official communication to your company’s Registered Agent.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires all businesses to identify a Responsible Party when applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This person must be an officer or manager who controls, manages, or directs your company and its assets. The Responsible Party will receive all official notices from the IRS.
The BOC-3 is a form filed with the FMCSA that identifies a process agent in every state of interstate motor carrier operation. A blanket filing is recommended, which identifies a process agent in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Note: a BOC-3 process agent is not necessarily the same individual as the Registered Agent of your company. Your Registered Agent is identified for purposes of your base state. A BOC-3 process agent is required to be on file with the FMCSA
In general, you will have about three months from when you get your MC Number until the FMCSA’s deadline. Once you get your MC Number, the FMCSA gives a 20-day window to get proof of insurance on file. If you don’t get your proof of insurance on file within 20 days, you may be given a 60-day extension. If proof of insurance is not filed after the extension, the FMCSA could cancel your application. If this happens, you’ll have to repeat the entire authority filing process again.
The insurance company will need to know if your company is buying or leasing tractors, trucks, and/or trailers. Identify your equipment ahead of time so that the insurance company can get your proof of insurance to the FMCSA faster.
If you plan to haul non-hazardous materials across state lines, the FMCSA will require $750,000 in liability coverage. Cargo insurance is not an FMCSA requirement but it’s highly recommended because brokers, shippers, and other third parties will require it.
Your company’s proof of insurance must be sent to the FMCSA directly from the insurance company issuing your coverage. The liability coverage filing is called a Form BMC-91. Motor carrier insurance providers are familiar with the process and should send the proof of insurance within a timely manner.
You can start hauling interstate freight as soon as your authority is activated by the FMCSA. However, the activation process timeline varies.
The FMCSA, as well as state law enforcement, require all truck drivers operating commercial motor vehicles to have a CDL. Meaning, if you plan to start a trucking company and drive the truck, you need a CDL. If you don’t plan to drive the truck, you are not required to have a CDL.
If you plan to be an owner and a driver for your trucking company, you’ll want to consider having two years of driving experience before starting your own trucking company. Most insurance companies don’t typically provide insurance coverage at an affordable cost to drivers with less than two years of driving experience.
Yes, an MC Number, or operating authority, is transferable. In order to transfer an MC Number, first you must notify the FMCSA. Then there are a few steps both the transferor and transferee must complete before the MC Number transfer is officially recognized including updating or filing an MCS-150 form.
No, USDOT Numbers are not transferable. USDOT Numbers are assigned to an individual or business entity requiring them to remain identifiable by the FMCSA forever. Operating authority (an MC Number) is transferable. If you want to change ownership, legal names, or other business details on record, you will want to read through the FMCSA’s guidelines on doing so.
An MC Number, or operating authority, is transferable. However, if you also need a USDOT Number to legal haul interstate commerce then keep in mind that the USDOT Number is not transferable. If you want to transfer trucking authority between one entity and another, there are several steps you will have to complete before the authority transfer is officially recognized by the FMCSA.
If you want to transfer authority as a way to start your trucking company with established authority, we recommend you read our blog post that talks about the pros and cons of purchasing another authority.
Ready to Get Started?
If you have other questions or need assistance getting your trucking company started, let us help. The Apex Startup Program helps you form your trucking company and apply for your operating authority (MC Number). We make the process simple, which saves you time and makes the process stress free!