The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) gives drivers the opportunity to apply for temporary operating authority when that situation meets their needs better. This is common among motor carriers wishing to provide temporary disaster relief by transporting people, equipment, and supplies in the affected area.
When and how to apply for temporary operating authority
Before you can apply for temporary operating authority, the FMCSA must determine that you have an immediate transportation need. Additionally, it states that the urgent need cannot be met by a motor carrier service that already exists. Because temporary authority is only available in exceptionally urgent situations, the FMCSA will typically only issue it after another branch of the government has announced an emergency declaration. You can view this link to learn more about current emergency declarations in force.
To begin the processing of applying for temporary operating authority, you must first apply for a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number if you don’t have one already. You can do this by signing an MCS-150 form and indicating on the form that you need emergency temporary authorization to operate your vehicle in a disaster setting. No motor carrier may apply for temporary operating authority if currently under an out of service order from the FMCSA.
Next, you will need to complete and sign Form OP-1 and write the words Emergency Temporary Authority across the top. The next form you will need to complete and submit is BOC-3, called Designation of Process Agent, to show that you have the proper insurance on your commercial vehicle. Finally, you will need to provide an official statement regarding why you are seeking temporary operating authority at this time. You will need to select the proper form according to your circumstances. Options include:
- OP-1(P) for motor passenger carriers
- OP-1 for property carriers
- OP-1(MX) for Mexican property carriers
You can submit the required forms via the FMCSA website or by faxing them.
Expectations after submitting the required paperwork
It normally takes 48 hours or less for the FMCSA to process requests for emergency temporary operating authority. You must have proof of financial responsibility on file with the FMCSA before it will issue the authority. Once received, your temporary operating authority remains in effect until the expiration of the emergency declaration or 120 days. It will expire according to which event occurs the soonest.
Should you decide to pursue permanent operating authority, you will need to do so using the same USDOT number provided by the FMCSA before you started the process of applying for temporary authority. You will need to have evidence of financial responsibility on file and pay a $300 processing fee to receive your permanent authority.
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