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April 29, 2022

Mastering FMCSA Authority: Understanding The Critical Requirements

FMCSA authority is essential for you if you are working as a for-hire carrier and intend to haul loads across state lines. The federal government in Washington requires FMCSA authority for most of these loads. If you want to haul loads across state lines and get paid for it using a pickup truck or pickup truck towing a trailer, a commercial van, a straight truck, a straight truck doing a trailer, or a semi-tractor and a trailer combination, you will need to obtain this authority. Regardless of what vehicle or vehicle combination you drive, you will need an FMCSA authority to cross state lines. 

The only thing that is going to make a difference in this application process is the GVWR which is the gross vehicle weight rating of the vehicle and/or the vehicle combination. This applies to the power unit or the pickup truck that pulls your trailer or your semi-tractor and trailer combination as well. 

If the combined gross vehicle weight rating of your power unit and the trailer is 10,000 lbs or within that limit when filling in the application for your FMCSA authority, you will have to carry at least $300,000 of personal injury or property damage liability insurance. However, if the GVWR of your vehicle or the combined GVWR of all the vehicles is above 10,000 LBS when you are applying for the authority, the requirement is going to change to a minimum of $750,000 in insurance. 

The MC Authority is the official name for the FMCSA authority. Remember that when you apply for the FMCSA authority, you will also need to have your USDOT number with you. If you already have your USDOT number, you must keep your PIN number handy for the application.

Are You Exempt From Any FMCSA Authority Requirements? Let’s Find Out

Are You A Farmer With Farm Plates?

  • If yes, you do not need to obtain FMCSA authority in your name. A farmer who has a farm-plated truck and wants to cross state lines does not need FMCSA authority. 
  • If you drive a farm plated van or a pickup truck that has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs or less than that or if you are pulling a trailer with your pickup truck and the entire combined GVWR is 10,000 LBS or less than that, crossing state lines will become easier for you. You are not required to register for a US DOT number or even FMCSA authority. 
  • However, if the GVWR of your vehicle or vehicle combination is more than 10,000 LBS you will have to apply for a US DOT number but you still don’t need FMCSA authority. 
  • If you are pulling a trailer with your truck or have a semi-tractor pulling a trailer and their combined gross vehicle weight rating is more than 10,000 LBS, you will require a US DOT number but not FMCSA authority still. 
  • However, in addition to your US DOT number if you drive a farm plated truck or a farm plated truck that pulls a trailer and in case the weight exceeds 26,000 LBS while you are crossing state lines, you must register for the IFTA fuel tax. 
  • If you are driving a farm plated semi-tractor and a trailer and intend to cross state lines, you must register for a US DOT number and IFTA fuel tax. Again, there is no need to register for FMCSA authority.

Are You A Private Carrier Hauling Your Own Products?

If yes, you do not need FMCSA authority. If your enterprise manufactures goods and wants to transport them across state lines using a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,000 LBS, you do not need to have a USDOT number or register for FMCSA authority.

This applies to your combined gross vehicle weight rating as well. If the vehicle with which you are crossing the state lines has a GVWR of more than 10,000 LBS including your truck or semi-tractor that pulls your trailer, you will require a US DOT number but not FMCSA authority.

Are You Working For-Hire Hauling Exempt Products?

If yes, you do not need to apply for FMCSA authority. If as a carrier, you intend to haul exempt commodities across state lines, you do not need to apply for a USDOT number as well. These exempt commodities can be corn, livestock, or logs and lumber. If your truck has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 LBS or less than that, you do not need to apply for FMCSA authority either. 

But if your vehicle has a GVWR of more than 10,000 LBS or if the power unit that you are pulling your trailer with has a GVWR of more than 10,000 LBS, you must carry a US DOT number. In this case as well, you do not require FMCSA authority

FMCSA Authority And Other Requirements

If you want to obtain your FMCSA authority, you will need your US DOT number. You must also register for your BOC-3 list of process agents. In addition to this, you require personal injury and property damage liability insurance as well. The FMCSA authority is also known as common authority and for this, you will need your cargo insurance as well. The total time scale for this application is going to be around 21 days. 

You will need your US DOT number when applying for your FMCSA authority as well. The docket number will be issued at the end of the process but the FMCSA authority will be granted to you only when the feds have all the information needed from you. 

You will receive a letter of authority that you will have to carry in your vehicles at all times. When you are issued your FMCSA authority, you will have to carry that letter with you at all times. The next process will be Unified Carrier Registration. Once you have your FMCSA authority, you will have to go through the new entrant carrier safety audit process. This is a very simple process where the state police from the motor carrier section will pay you a visit. They are going to assess all the safety measures that you have taken to remain compliant. 

There are 16 critical items that you will have to fulfill. The safety auditor will be satisfied if you successfully do that, but if you fail to comply with any of these critical requirements, they will take away your authority.

The FMCSA Authority And Related Time Scale

A lot of people get rather impatient when applying for their FMCSA authority. To all of them, we want to say that it is going to take around 21 to 24 days to complete the entire application process. But make sure that you do not make any delays in submitting the required documentation to the authorities. You should pay for the application for this authority using a debit card or credit card. You must have proof of liability insurance and your BOC 3 list of process agents as well. The feds are going to check all this information that you have supplied for your FMCSA authority application.

If you make a payment through a check, it may take several weeks to clear. The feds in Washington will add seven more days to the time scale once they receive the required information and essential forms for your FMCSA authority. Therefore, it will take almost a month before you are granted your authority.

Make sure to submit all your information as early as possible so that you can receive your FMCSA authority quickly.

FMCSA Docket Number – Where The Confusion Lies

Yes, this is probably the most confusing part for many carriers and transportation companies. When you apply for your authority, the system will assign you both your docket number and your US DOT number.

If you already have your US DOT number, the application process will use it. The reference number during the process will be the docket number.

Always have your letter of authority when you are legally hauling loads. Failure to do that may result in penalties from some scale masters. The issuing agency will provide a letter called a certificate of authority. They will refer to the letter as a permit if you apply for contract authority.

After obtaining your FMCSA authority, it will take around 7 to 10 days for your letter to reach your mailing address. You make sure that you always have the letter and its copy in your truck before you start hauling loads. The scale master is not going to let you through until they have seen this letter on you.

The best way to comply with all these requirements is to get in touch with a dependable and highly reputable third-party DOT compliance facilitator. These professionals are in a position to keep you compliant throughout the year while you focus on your core business operations.

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