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Trucking Authority Frequently Asked Questions 
Q. Who needs a DOT number?
A. Any motor vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight OVER 10,000 pounds that operates in interstate commerce MUST have a DOT number. Private or Exempt-For-Hire carriers need only a DOT number, and do not need a motor carrier authority. 

Q. What is an operating authority?
A. “Operating authority” is the term used by transportation regulatory agencies to describe a grant of legal permission by a federal or state government to engage in for-hire interstate (state-to-state) or intrastate (within a state) transportation by motor vehicle. Essentially, it is a business license. Much like a plumber needs to be licensed and insured, so too does a trucker or mover (also called a motor carrier). In certain areas called “Commercial Zones” no trucking license is needed if you operate solely within the zone. However, if you are unlicensed and you transport regulated commodities where one or both points are outside the zone, you run the risk of being issued notices of violation and having to pay substantial civil penalties.

Q. What is the difference between interstate and intrastate commerce? 
A. Interstate commerce in trade, traffic, or transportation involving the crossing of a State boundary. Either the vehicle, cargo, or its passengers must cross a State boundary, or there must be the intent to cross a state boundary to be considered an interstate carrier. Intrastate commerce is trade, transportation, or traffic within a single state. 

Q. I only drive within my state. Do I need a DOT number?
A. The rules vary state to state. Most do not require a DOT number, but states such as Florida, Georgia and Missouri require you to obtain a STATE DOT number if you don’t already have a DOT number.

Q. What is the definition of an authorized for-hire carrier? 
A. Is a person or company that provides transportation of passengers or cargo for compensation. If you are a for-hire carrier, in addition to the USDOT Number you will also need to obtain Operating Authority (MC Number). 

Q. What are the definitions of common, contract, and broker Authority? 
A. Common carriers provide for-hire truck transportation to the general public. Common carriers must file both liability (Bodily Injury and Personal Damage) insurance and cargo insurance. Contract carriers provide for-hire truck transportation to specific, individual shippers, based on contracts. Contract carriers must file only liability (Bodily Injury and Personal Damage) insurance. Brokers arrange for the truck transportation of cargo belonging to others, for compensation, utilizing for-hire carriers to provide the actual truck transportation. Brokers must file either a surety bond or trust fund agreement. 

Q. What is an Exempt For-Hire motor carrier? 
A. Exempt for-hire motor carrier means a person engaged in transportation exempt from economic regulation for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. 

Q. What is a USDOT Number? 
A. A United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Number is issued by the Department of Transportation. It tracks all your company’s information with the different Federal and State Agencies. A USDOT Number does not constitute authority to operate in interstate commerce.

Q. What is a Motor Carrier Number? 
A. An MC Number is issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It grants the right to commence operations in interstate commerce in the transportation industry. There are several factors involved in obtaining an MC Number including a USDOT Number, BOC-3 Process Agents, and insurance. 

Q. What is a BOC-3 Process Agent? 
A. A process agent is someone who may be serviced with court papers in any proceeding brought against a motor carrier. Every motor carrier (of property or passengers) must have a BOC-3 process agent for each State in which it is authorized to operate and for each state traversed during operations. 

Q. What type and how much insurance do I need? 
A. The Federal minimums for insurance coverage is $750,000 in liability and $5,000 in Cargo insurance. The industry standard is $1,000,000 in liability and $100,000 in Cargo insurance. 

Q. How much does it cost to get my trucking authority? 
A. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration charges $300 for each authority. If you are a carrier that needs a common carrier authority AND a broker authority, you will have to pay $300 for each one.

Q. How long does it take to get my trucking authority? 
A. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration usually takes 3-4 weeks to approve a motor carrier authority application. Your application must first go through a 10-day “protest period” during which time your name with appear in the Federal Register. After the 10-day protest period, your insurance must then be binded to your authority application. After your insurance is approved, you will be granted a Certificate of Authority by the FMCSA.

Q. Is they any way to get my Authority faster than three weeks?
A. Unfortunately, the FMCSA does not offer expedited processing. 

Q. Isn’t there a way to get an authority in 24 hours? 
A. In times of national disasters or nation emergencies, a temporary motor carrier authority can be issued in as little as 24 hours. These authorities can only be applied for by carriers that are operating in, or going into, the disaster zones. These authorities are usually only good for 120 days.

Q. What is IRP? 
A. The International Registration Plan (IRP) is a state registration that covers the apportioned tags for your power unit. The contiguous 48 states plus Canadian Provinces all participate in the program. You must register with your base state and select the states that you wish to operate in during the current or coming year. The IRP must be renewed annually and has a prorated annual fee. Only vehicles over 26,000 Gross Vehicle Weight participate in the program. The annual IRP fee ranges from $800 - $2,500. 

Q. What is UCR?
A. The Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) is a Federal registration for your truck. The UCR requires that all motor carriers, regulated, exempt and private as well as interstate brokers, Freight Forwarders and leasing companies are subject to the fees under the UCR. These fees are calculated per company based on the number of commercial motor vehicles it operates. Commercial motor vehicles include the total number of trucks, trailers and power units operated by the company.

Q. What is IFTA?
A. International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) is a means to pay fuel taxes to the different participating states and provinces by registering and filing quarterly returns with your base state. Only the contiguous 48 States, plus Canadian Provinces and vehicle over 26,000 Gross Vehicle Weight participate in this program. Registration for the program is generally free but some states may charge a registration and decal fee that usually cost under $35.00.

Q. What states require special permits?
A. Only four states have special permits that are required to operate within their borders. You can register for these permits upfront or acquire trip permits. The states are New York (HUT), Kentucky (KYU Number), New Mexico, & Oregon (File Number). 

Q. What is a Safety Audit?
A. A new entrant safety audit involves a review of the carrier’s safety management system and is conducted by a State of Federal Auditor within the first 18 months of operation. New entrants can expect to start receiving safety audits 3-6 months after they are granted new entrant registration. There is no charge for these safety audits. The areas of review include, but are not limited to, the following:
* Driver Qualifications
* Driver Duty Status
* Vehicle Maintenance
* Accident Register
* Controlled Substances and Alcohol use and testing requirements 

Q. When and where will I have a Safety Audit? 
A. Most likely you will have your first safety audit within the first 3-6 months after you are granted new entrant registration. They will be conducted primarily on-site at the carrier’s principle place of business. However, some safety audits may be conducted at other locations.