The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces different requirements depending on whether a driver’s routes require traveling intrastate or interstate. If intrastate, it means the driver only complete deliveries within the same state that issued his or her commercial driver’s license. Interstate has to do with commerce that takes place in multiple states. So, as you can see, there’s a big distinction between interstate commerce and intrastate commerce.
What is interstate driving?
Interstate driving can refer to any of the following:
- Making a delivery outside of state lines, including in countries outside of United States borders.
- The delivery starts and ends in the same state, but the driver passes through another state or country while in transport.
- The delivery takes place between two locations within the same state, but the transportation, trade, or traffic originates or ends outside of state lines or United States border lines.
If you’re a new driver who intends to operate for hire, you will probably need to obtain a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Number and an operating authority. (It’s always important to make sure you have the appropriate operating authority and a DOT Number if you need one.)
How to obtain a USDOT Number
If you meet any of the above criteria, you can apply for your USDOT number online through the FMCSA’s United Registration System. You will complete one of three types of application forms. The first is MCS-150, which is the basic application that most motor carriers complete. MCS-150B combines the basic application for a USDOT number with a hazardous materials application. MSC-150C is the basic USDOT application combined with the application for Intermodal Equipment Provider. The benefit of using the online portal provided by FMCSA is that it selects the proper application for you.
To make the process easier on yourself, you should ensure that you have the following information available before launching the application:
- Cargo classification
- Company operation
- Driver status
- Hazardous materials classification if applicable
- Number of vehicles
- Operation classification
- Ownership type of vehicles such as owned, term leased, or trip leased
- Types of vehicles
You can also choose to obtain a paper copy of the application form and send it through the mail if that’s what you’d prefer.
What is Operating Authority, and will you need to apply for it?
In addition to obtaining a USDOT number, you may need to apply for operating authority in certain circumstances. The FMCSA also refers to operating authority as an MC number. You need to obtain one if you operate as a carrier for hire, you transport passengers during interstate commerce, or you transport commodities subject to federal regulation.
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