In general, companies that do the following are required to have an interstate Operating Authority (MC number) in addition to a DOT number:
Transport passengers in interstate commerce (for a fee or other compensation, whether direct or indirect)
Transport federally-regulated commodities owned by others or arranging for their transport, (for a fee or other compensation, 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.
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)
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 types and 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.
You are required to obtain a USDOT number if you have a vehicle that:
Is used to transport the types and quantities of hazardous materials requiring a safety permit in intrastate commerce (see 49 CFR 385.403).
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;
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 a USDOT Number and comply with the 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 protected property. We believe the information in this package, when effectively applied, will contribute to safer motor carrier operations and highways.
For intrastate motor carrier registration, check with your responsible state agency.
A process agent is a representative upon whom court papers may be served in any proceeding brought against a motor carrier, broker, or freight forwarder. When all Unified Registration System (URS) provisions are implemented, every motor carrier (of property or passengers) shall make a designation for each State in which it is authorized to operate and for each State traversed during such operations. Before that time, only for-hire carriers are required to designate a process agent. Brokers are required to list process agents in each state in which they have an office and in which they write contracts. FMCSA Regulation 49 CFR Part 366 details more about the Designation of Process Agents by Motor Carriers and Brokers. On January 17, 2017, FMCSA published a Federal Register notice with more details on the suspension of the URS effectiveness date.
The applicant should contact a process agent, who can file Form BOC-3 (Designation of Process Agents) with the FMCSA. Only one completed form may be on file. It must include all states for which agency designations are required. One copy must be retained by the carrier or broker at its principal place of business.
Companies may select any blanket company on the process agent list (they are not limited to the state in which they are domiciled). Each blanket company has a process agent they work with in each state.
Unified Registration System Launched for New Applicants
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. To determine if you need to apply for a US DOT number, click here.
FMCSA has launched a phased rollout of the Unified Registration System (URS). All new registration applicants must use the new URS Application.
URS combines various forms that carriers, freight forwarders and brokers currently use to register and update their information with the Agency into a single, online registration application.
Only the initial registration by new applicants will be done using the URS online registration application.
For more general information on URS, click here.