August 9, 2023
7 min read
If you are an operator or own a commercial motor vehicle and plan to engage in interstate transportation for compensation and commercial purposes, there are certain rules and regulations you must follow. The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) mandates that you register your commercial motor vehicle appropriately before commencing operations in any capacity.
Additionally, you must get proper identification from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prior to conducting the transportation of goods or passengers across state lines. The authorities outline two fundamental requirements: the DOT and MC numbers. Many people often need clarification on these two aspects. Here’s everything you need to know about DOT and MC numbers and how they are obtained and used.
DOT and MC numbers serve as government identifiers for motor carriers. A DOT number is an identification number the USDOT assigns to commercial vehicles or long trucks registered with the FMCSA. It serves as a unique identifier for your long trucks.
On the other hand, an MC number is used to identify carriers that transport regulated commodities for hire within state lines. The application for an MC number is typically necessary when goods are altered from their natural state. It is often referred to as motor carrier authority or operating authority. The FMCSA is responsible for assigning the MC number as well. However, not all commercial trucking companies must apply for an MC number.
After evaluating your company’s activities and determining the need for a carrier license, you must submit a form to acquire these numbers. In most cases, once all the necessary documents are submitted, the USDOT number is typically issued within one hour. On the other hand, obtaining an MC number may take a bit longer, approximately 20-25 days. The entire procedure can be completed without your presence.
When you are ready to apply, you must provide the Employer Identification Number (EIN) and the name of the company officer. Sometimes, you may also be required to provide a Dun & Bradstreet number. After obtaining the numbers, the next step is to activate them through insurance. Initially, the FMCSA numbers are inactive, and using them without proper activation does not provide a legal basis for conducting business. Activation is a prerequisite involving directing current insurance toward the obtained numbers.
It’s important to note that the insurance application must be directly from an insurance company that provides coverage for this type of activity in the United States. The FMCSA will not accept insurance copies or other documents for this purpose.
The FMCSA mandates a DOT number for the following cases:
Newly issued DOT numbers consist of eight digits. The primary purpose of the DOT number is to facilitate the FMCSA in monitoring safety and compliance information for the respective company.
Generally, companies that meet the following criteria are obligated to get an MC number along with a DOT number:
Depending on the specific authority granted, FMCSA operating authority can be identified as MC, FF, or MX. A company may require multiple operating authorities depending on the intended business activities. These authorities associated with an MC number include:
USDOT and MC numbers serve the purpose of monitoring and improving safety on interstate highways and are used for the following:
Collect safety information and track a business’s safety record. The FMCSA manages websites that allow users to retrieve essential safety-related information by entering a company’s name, DOT number, or MC number.
They help protect the safety of the roadways. Although it may take time to realize, having a USDOT number plays a crucial role in ensuring your and your drivers’ safety. The DOT number aids in monitoring a company’s safety record, conducting crash investigations, and compliance reviews. While DOT compliance may initially feel restrictive, it ultimately contributes to keeping you and other drivers safe on the road.
Conduct safety audits. FMCSA-certified auditors carry out safety audits by submitting relevant documents through mail, online, or fax to FMCSA. As part of the Safety Audit, carriers must provide documentation validating the implementation of functional safety management controls. Auditors may request documents that are related to vehicles, drivers, record-keeping, and general operating procedures.
Starting any type of business is challenging, particularly when you bear all the responsibilities and adhere to the necessary rules and regulations for establishing a trucking company. Before delving too deeply into establishing your venture, verifying whether obtaining a DOT number is necessary is crucial. For further details, it is advisable to directly consult reliable sources, such as the motor carrier authority, accessible online at fmcsa.dot.gov.