The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires commercial drivers to apply for an identification number with the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) as well as operating authority (MC number) in most cases. To obtain your identification number via the USDOT, you must complete an online registration form at the FMCSA Unified Registration System (URS). You’ll have to access the URS directly since the FMCSA stopped accepting paper registrations for first-time applicants in December 2015. You do not need to pay a fee to complete your registration.
What you need to know about Operating Authority
Motor carriers that meet specific criteria must apply for operating authority from the FMCSA. The fee is $300 per application, and operating authority is in addition to the USDOT requirements. Criteria that require operating authority includes:
- The carrier is available for hire whether paid in cash or another form of compensation.
- The carrier arranges for or provides interstate transportation for passengers.
- The carrier transports commodities during interstate commerce that require federal regulations and oversight.
While most carriers require operating authority, those falling into one of these categories qualify for an exemption:
- Private carriers transporting their own cargo.
- Carriers for hire that exclusively haul non-regulated commodities.
- Carriers that exclusively operate in a commercial zone designated by the federal government that has received an exemption from following federal interstate rules. A common example of a commercial zone is multiple states on the border of a major metropolitan area such as Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
In addition to MC-150, you may hear people refer to operating authority as FF or MX. These qualifiers describe the type of authority the FMCSA has granted to the carrier.
What to expect after submitting your USDOT or MC-150 Application
Applying for a USDOT number online is simple and efficient. You should receive the number instantly upon submission with notification arriving via postal mail within a few weeks.
If you are applying for an operating number for the first time or you currently operate as a motor carrier and use the OP-1 Form to apply for a property carrier application online, you can expect the process to take up to 25 days. The same process takes 45 to 60 days when you submit the information via email, fax, or postal mail. Occasionally, the FMCSA selects operating authority applications for additional vetting. You can expect to wait much longer if the FMCSA needs to confirm any information you included with your application.
Don’t forget about financial responsibility requirements
It’s important to get the right insurance for your business, depending on the loads you normally transport, whether you drive interstate or intrastate, and your overall level of risk. Our transportation insurance experts can help you with that. We would be happy to provide you with truck insurance quotes that are suited to your business upon request. All you have to do to get started with your truck insurance quotes is fill out our online form, give us a call, or message us on LiveChat. We’re here to keep the insurance process as easy as possible.