January 18, 2022

Biennial Updates And USDOT Number – 11 Points Of Concern Addressed

Your biennial update and USDOT number have a lot of nuances attached to them. There is a lot to know about them that you may not be aware of right now. You may often forget about a few critical little details.

This may result in serious problems for you and your trucking company. You may end up having to pay a lot of fines and may even get your DOT number deactivated.

To avoid any such situations, we have collected a few questions and addressed them with as many details and information as possible. Let’s have a look:

What Is A DOT Biennial MCS – 150 Update?

The department of transportation lays down a lot of guidelines and rules that all the trucking companies and contractors have to follow. The MCS 150 update is also one of them.

All trucks are required to have a DOT number and they must also file the biennial MCS 150 update on time. Before your truck or any commercial vehicle can begin transporting any kind of materials or hit the road at all, you must apply for these numbers and also update your MCS 150 form. 

You have to do this every 2 years or biennially regardless of whether your company information has been updated or changed or not. You have to fill the MCS 150 form as directed under the rules laid down by the department of transportation.

This form is filled for the purpose of giving the government all the current information regarding your company and the fleet that you own. You must ensure that all the details that you have given to the government are 100% accurate and current.

The MCS 150 form is an update to your DOT number. It is essential for every trucking company to fill out this form correctly so that the federal motor carrier safety administration has accurate information to tally safety scores periodically.

They will keep into account your compliance records, safety management, accountability measurement system, and other aspects.

Why Is The Accuracy Of The MCS 150 Form So Important? 

Yes, a lot of people ask that question. Remember that if you do not come up with the right information, it is going to impact your score negatively. Every company or carrier needs to file this information biennially and you must do this in the following cases without fail: 

  • If you are adding a new truck to your fleet 
  • When you decide to change the name of your business or company 
  • If you decide to make any changes to the structure of your business

How Often Do We Need To File The MCS 150 Form?

You must be aware of when you need to file this form. Based on the department of transportation number that has been assigned to your company, you will need to file your MCS form every 2 years.

You will begin by looking at your DOT number. You will then identify what the second to last digit of your DOT number is. For example, if the second to last digit is odd, you must file your MCS form in odd years. 

This means that 2021 was the year when you should have filed this form. Now you can file this form next in 2023. If you miss that date, you will file it in 2025.

Similarly, if the second to last digit of your number is even, then 2022 is the year for you and then 2024 and 2026 and so on. The biennial update is going to have a deadline that is unique to your USDOT number.

The last digit of the number is going to indicate the month when you must file this form on time. For example, if the number ends in 3, you must file your update in the month of March. Likewise, if the number ends in 6, you have to file this form in the month of June. 

Can A Person Have Two DOT Numbers?

This is a very complicated question but we have the answer to it as well. It is the responsibility of the company or the driver as to how and when they want to get the DOT number.

One person can certainly have as many DOT numbers as the number of commercial vehicles they own. This means if you drive 2 or 3 commercial vehicles, you can have two or three DOT numbers. 

DOT numbers are assigned based on several rules that are laid down by the department of transportation. The department assigns numbers to your vehicles and not to the individuals who drive those automobiles.

If you have one commercial vehicle, then you will only need one number. But if you have multiple commercial vehicles, each one is going to need its own DOT number. The following cases should shed a little more light on this:

  • If you have a commercial vehicle that is intended for use across multiple states, you must obtain a DOT number. Once this number is assigned to you, it must be displayed on the side of the truck.
  • This requirement will be applicable to every vehicle that weighs over a certain amount. This is typically 10,001 pounds in most cases. In some cases, the total weight should be 26,001 lbs.
  • If you own a commercial vehicle that carries paying passengers, you must have a DOT number. The number of passengers that are typically considered here is 8 or more. In some cases, it is 15 passengers or more.
  • If you want to get a DOT number, your vehicle must be registered before you can apply for it. The federal motor carrier safety administration is going to assign this number to you.

How To Check If My DOT Number Is Active?

You can associate with a third-party DOT services provider and they will take care of all your updates and compliance requirements without you having to lift a finger.

They will make sure that you are always up-to-date and all your documents are filed on time in addition to making sure that all your compliance requirements are in check.

Whenever you need to find out whether your USDOT number status is active or not, you will have to check its status online. 

You will be required to keep its status active whenever you intend to operate your commercial vehicles within the state or across state borders. This number is what serves as a unique identifier for your commercial vehicle.

It holds a lot of important information related to your safety and compliance and the federal motor carrier safety administration has access to that critical information. This is why it is important to determine whether your USDOT number is active or not. 

One of the quickest ways is to check the status of this number on the department of transportation website.

Another way is to enquire about the status through email. At times it can be complicated using the online search tool and, in this case, you can mail the department inquiring about the status of your DOT number. 

Upon submitting this request, you will receive a tracking number and the support team will get back to you with the necessary information.

You can also call the federal motor carrier service administration customer service number. The best approach is to let a third-party services provider handle all these little issues for you.

This way you can focus on your core responsibilities and business without having to divert your attention to such trivial tasks.

What Does It Mean When Your DOT Number Status Is “Not Authorized”?

This is a very common question that a lot of commercial trucking companies have on their minds. You may see that the status of your number says “not authorized”. This means that you do not have any operating authority whether in your home state or across state borders.

This implies that your operating activity is not active at the moment and you are not allowed to operate as for hire in any interstate commercial activities. 

Your status is going to change to authorized in the systems of the governing body once your operating authority becomes active. Remember, in such a case, if your MC number was previously active, it may have become inactive or may even have been revoked.

Upon the submission of a request to reactivate your authority, it might take at least 21 days for your status to change back to active.

Can I Update My Biennial MCS 150 Earlier Than The Month Listed Or Do I Have To Wait?

This is also a very common question that keeps several trucking companies and carriers up at night. You can definitely update your biennial MCS form earlier than the due date but then it is of no use.

You will have to refile it in the month when it is actually due. Your MCS 150 biennial update form is supposed to be filed only in the month when it is due and not before that. This is what the compliance regulations laid down by the FMCSA clearly say.

Remember that it is always important to fill out the MCS 150 form properly and with the most accurate and current information. All the data that you provide is used to analyze your safety performance, compliance, and more. 

What Happens If I Don’t Update My DOT Number With The MCS 150?

Do not make the mistake of forgetting to file this update. A lot of companies end up doing that and they eventually have to pay thousands of dollars as fines.

This is why third-party DOT and FMCSA service providers are there in the picture in the first place. If you fail to update your MCS 150 form at the right time and accurately, you may have to face up to $1,000 of fine per day.

Worse yet, your DOT number may get deactivated. This could be a real deal-breaker for your company and could tarnish your reputation for a long time.

It will be very difficult for you to get back in business and enjoy the same goodwill that you have up until now.

Where To File Your MCS 150 Biennial Update?

You can do this update on the official website of the federal motor carrier safety administration. Though at times the process seems to be quite complicated and this is why third-party service providers are there in the loop.

You can always ask them for MCS 150 registration renewal assistance and they will be happy to oblige. There are certain regulations and compliances laid down by the department of transportation that can get too complicated to understand.

You can leave all these responsibilities on the able shoulders of third-party consortiums and facilitators that can take care of your drug testing, on-road compliance, supervisor training, and so much more.

Will I Get A Heads Up When The MCS 150 Update Is You?

Usually, you do not get a heads up whenever your MCS 150 update is due but this is why third-party consortiums and facilitators are there. They will keep a track of all your important updates and compliance formalities that you need to perform every year or every 2 years.

This way you don’t have to deviate from your core business responsibilities to fill out these formalities and perform these assessments on your own.

All your compliance records, formalities, paperwork, forms, and other legal entries will be completed by the third-party DOT and FMCSA assistance service provider.

What Is The Difference Between Biennial And Biannual?

In the simplest words, biannual means twice in one year and biennial means once in every two years. 


This blog was to address some of the most commonly asked questions that constantly plague the minds of various trucking company owners and carriers.

We hope it was helpful and the trivia that we provided will guide you towards timely compliance and facilitate smoother and uninterrupted operation on road.



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