How to Get Authority for Trucking

tractor trailer on road

Last Updated on December 27, 2022

Let’s face it — getting trucking authority is never a walk in the park. There is a plethora of online information that can make it hard to keep track of all the required steps.

Having your trucking authority means you cut the third player or middleman, which means more significant profit. Even so, how do you get a trucking authority? Are there requirements you should know before getting one?

Read on for a detailed insight into everything you need to know about trucking authority in this blog. The step-by-step checklist for getting truck authority provided will also help make understanding the process easier.

But first!

What is the Trucking Authority?

Also known as Motor Carrier Authority or Operating Authority, Trucking Authority is as its name suggests. It is the permission granted to truckers by the government to transport goods from one place to another.

Typically, it is almost impossible to transport goods with your truck for profit without a trucking authority. The government agency that regulates the trucking industry is Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

It grants operating authority by issuing United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Motor Carrier (MC) numbers. These are unique numbers designed to help FMCSA conduct inspections, identify your trucking company, and monitor your safety scores.

The Difference Between Owner-Operator And Authority

The main difference between being an owner-operator and having your own authority is that owner-operators usually work under someone else’s authority. Many owner-operators haul loads for shipping carriers with a trucking authority, making them independent contractors – not business owners.

When you haul loads under your own authority, you are your own boss. You are responsible for finding loads, controlling your work schedule, and following all relevant regulations. Therefore, operating under your own authority means you must be independent and know what you are doing.

Conversely, working as an owner-operator for another carrier means you have a boss who finds loads for you to haul and controls your schedule. Owner-operatorship is generally better if you prefer working with somebody else who manages the particulars, so all you need to do is drive the truck.

Types of Authority

There are two types of trucking authority. You can either apply for a standard or contract license. They are quite different and will depend on who you want to provide the transportation to and the type of cargo.

  • Common carriers: This type is allowed to offer transportation to anyone wishing to have their goods transported with or without a formal contract or in exchange for payment.
  • Contact carriers: This type only allows drivers to haul freights for companies they have signed a contractual agreement with.

Note that both types are required to have liability insurance of at least $750,000. Also, only common carriers can purchase cargo insurance.

Who Needs It and Who Does Not?

Whether you are already a truck owner leasing through a carrier or thinking of starting a trucking company, you need to get your trucking authority. It will ensure you avoid getting on the wrong side of the law and provide you with the required insurance.

Besides, getting licensed is quite easy and will probably take you a few days to get your trucking authority.

Note that there is quite a wide range of risks involved when you are leasing through a company. What’s more, having your trucking authority will have many financial benefits. You also get to manage and run the business on your own time.

Benefits Of Having Trucking Authority

What are the benefits of hauling loads under your own authority? Here are some things that attract truckers to apply for authority:

Choose Your Loads And Routes

As a trucker with authority, you can choose whichever loads and routes appeal to you, whether you prefer short loops between a couple of cities or long cross-country hauls.

Control Your Work Hours

While you must still obey Hours of Service regulations, you fully control your schedule, whether you want to drive the maximum amount of hours or take short hauls and spend lots of time at home.

Moreover, you do not have to request your boss for time off because you are your own boss. As long as you can make enough money to live on, you can take as many days off as you want.

Negotiate Your Rates

When working under a carrier, your boss negotiates hauling rates on your behalf. However, truckers with authority must negotiate their own rates. If you are confident in your negotiation skills, you can make the most out of every haul.

Improve Your Income Potential

Authority truckers are their own bosses, meaning you get 100% of your profits – no cuts. While your expenses may be higher because you’re running your own business, you still have more earning potential than truckers working for a carrier.

Start Your Own Business

Some people get trucking authority to have others drive heavy vehicles for them. As a trucking authority holder, you can start your own for-hire motor carrier and hire drivers to haul loads on your behalf.

Requirements Before Getting Your Own Trucking Authority

So, where do you start? There are several documents or things you need to do before getting your trucking authority certificate. Here is a highlight of some of these requirements.

Register Your Business

Whether you are looking to hire employees to run the company or run it yourself, having a registered business is fundamental. Choose a business structure that will suit your business perfectly and have it registered with the appropriate state or county.

Get A DOT Number

Since you are essentially starting a new trucking company, you need a USDOT number. This identification number helps the department store relevant information regarding your company, like your commercial motor vehicles, cargo hauls, and maintenance records.

Shippers and freight brokers can access USDOT numbers to check your legitimacy. Having one is essential to show that you run a legitimate trucking business.

How To Get DOT Number

You can get a DOT number by completing an application form provided by the Department of Transportation. Follow the registration process to complete your DOT number application.

Cost Of DOT Number

A DOT number is free, but you cannot run a trucking business with it alone. To get trucking authority, you must pay a registration fee for your motor carrier number.

Get a Motor Carrier Number

You need to apply for a motor carrier (MC) number with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to complete your application. Use the information you gathered for the USDOT number registration to apply for your motor carrier number with the FMCSA. You will have 20 days to complete two more steps before you can be given your trucking authority.

How To Get An MC Number

If you do not already have a DOT number, you can apply for one alongside your MC number application through the Unified Registration wizard. If you already own a USDOT number, use the Registration Options page instead.

Cost Of MC Number

You must pay a one-time fee of $300 for every MC number application. Depending on your type of operation, you may need to apply for multiple types of motor carrier authorities.

If your trucking authority has been revoked, you must pay $80 to reinstate your active authority.

Apply for Insurance

According to the FMCSA, all carriers are required to have a $750,000 primary liability. Also, if you are looking to get common carrier insurance, you will be required to obtain $100,000 in cargo insurance or a $1,000,000-liability policy.

Other things you will need include an IFTA account, Employer Identification Number (EIN), BOC-3, and simple permits such as weight and distance permits.

Step-By-Step Checklist for Getting Trucking Authority

After getting all the above requirements, the next step would be getting your trucking authority. Although you can visit your state’s department of transportation website to get the required procedure, here is a step-by-step guide on how to go about getting your trucking authority.

Step 1: Apply for Your Authority

Complete the OP-1 (P) form, BOC-3, or OP-1 form and pay the required application fee. After doing so, register your truck’s information, such as year, VIN, and weight. Also, fill in the incorporation details, tax ID number, and license plate information.

After you are done with the safety certificate application and Motor Carrier Identification Report (MCS-150), you will immediately be given a USDOT number. The number will be used in interstate commerce when moving goods.

The FMCA will review your authority afterward, and a letter of approval will be sent to you by the stated address.

Note that you will have a 10-business day period to raise a dispute or rectify the application posted to the federal register.

Step 2: Get a UCR Permit

Use your MC Number and USDOT to apply for a Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) permit. Drivers will use the number during inspection to verify whether they have verified insurance coverage.

Step 3: Pay Your HVUT

This annual tax is assessed on all heavy commercial vehicles. Ensure you pay the required fee and fill in the OOIDA worksheet from form 2290, which is needed in registering your IRP. Note that if your truck weighs more than 55,000 pounds, you are required to file an HVUT return with the IRS each year.

What’s more, you should note that there are states that will require you to pay additional weight distance taxes to haul or work with them. Ensure you conduct background research before visiting your desired state.

Step 4: Register and Agree to the IRP

You will need to sign an agreement between all the states in the U.S. and Canada that provides payment of licensing fees. It also means that you will be licensed or allowed to transport goods from one state to another.

Check out the IRP website to help you complete the process quickly. You can also get in touch with their customer service to help you make the application.

Step 5: Get an IFTA Account

Setting up an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) account is quite easy. All you need to do is follow the same procedure as getting your IRP. It is also an agreement between the 48 contiguous states that ensures each state gets a share of the revenue for road maintenance.

However, with IFTA, you are only required to submit one fuel tax return after covering a quarter of the distance to your base jurisdiction.

Also, note that there are states such as New York that will require extra permits. For this reason, it is imperative to ensure you have all the details before starting the truck.

Step 6: Take a Drug and Alcohol Test

Enroll in a drug and alcohol testing program or complete the two hours controlled substance training if you are a supervisor of commercial drivers. Technically, DOT and FMCSA require all motor carriers to have a negative drug test before using commercial roads.

Step 7: Comply With Federal Regulation

Congratulations! After completing all the above steps, you will be ready to hit the road and reap more profits. All you need to do is comply with federal regulations. A mandatory “New Entrant” audit will be conducted after your first 18 months of doing business.

As a result, ensure you keep the best record to avoid ruining your trucking authority. You can get better results if you keep safety records, employee records, accident reporting, hours of service records, and any other necessary file that will ensure your business is running in its top-notch condition.

Related: Requirements for a Driver Qualification File

How Long Does it Take to Get a Trucking Authority?

The whole process will take 10-25 business days. However, if your application will need further review, you can expect an additional eight weeks to get your trucking authority. Besides the fact that the process might appear straightforward, it can be a daunting process, especially for small businesses.

It would be best if you also consider that there might be several upfront fees to be made before you can get your trucking authority. For instance, the FMCSA charge for filing the paperwork is $300, and it will include your DOT and MC numbers. You will also be required to part with an additional $80 if you want to reinstate authority.

Apart from that, there will also be a substantial amount of requirements and regulations that should be followed.

Is It Worth Getting Your Own Trucking Authority?

Getting your own trucking authority is worth it if you plan to work as an independent trucker or start a private carrier. However, if you are content as a company driver, you will get little mileage from a trucking authority.

Trucking Authority Packages

If you are sure that you want to get your own trucking authority but are intimidated by the process, you can opt to purchase a trucking authority package. Third party companies sell different types of trucking authority packages that make getting your authority much less stressful, but it comes at a higher cost. Be sure to research different packages before making a final decision as companies will offer various prices, filings, and quality of service.

Final Thoughts

It does not matter if you are an experienced or a rookie truck driver. If you need a trucking authority, it is pretty easy to apply for one. Ensure you follow the above steps and have everything required to register your company, and there is no doubt that you will experience exceptional results.

Looking for cash flow solutions for your trucking company? Check out our guides to freight factoring, trucking company invoicing, and solving trucking company cash flow problems.