May 19, 2023

USDOT & MC Number (Operating Authority) – 8 Points Of Differences

If you own and operate a commercial motor vehicle and if you want to take it across state lines for compensation and commercial activities, there will be a few rules and regulations that you will have to follow. The United States Department of Transportation requires you to get your commercial motor vehicle properly registered before you start operating it in any capacity. You must also obtain proper identification through the federal motor carrier safety administration before you start hauling goods or transporting people across state lines.

The two most basic requirements that you have to fulfill as per authorities are your USDOT number and MC number which is also called MC authority. A lot of people get confused between the two. It is very critical to understand their differences and how they let you function in the transport sector without any trouble or hiccups.

1. Let’s Understand What Your USDOT Number Is

Your Dot number is a number that the US Department of Transportation assigns to your company. When you register your vehicle with the federal motor carrier safety administration, you receive it as a part of the usual process. It is an identifier for your commercial vehicle and this makes obtaining your USDOT number even more important.

2. Now Let’s Come To Your MC Number

Operating authority is also referred to as an “MC,” “FF,” or “MX” number, depending on what authority type you require. You may need to obtain multiple authority types depending on what type of company operation you have. You must have operating authority if you will be operating as a for-hire carrier, transporting passengers or arranging for their transport in interstate commerce, or transporting federally regulated commodities or arranging for their transport in interstate commerce.

A major difference between a USDOT number and an MC number is you might be required to have a USDOT number even if you don’t cross state lines. Whereas you are only required to have a MC number if you do cross state lines.

3. Do I Need A Dot Number?

The federal motor carrier safety administration has laid down a few requirements as to what constitutes an entity that must obtain a dot number. Let’s have a look at these guidelines:

  • The gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of your vehicle should be 10,000 LBS or more than that
  • If you want to drive commercial vehicles on interstate routes, you will need a dot number
  • Vehicles that transport 9 or more people for compensation will have to apply for a DOT number
  • Vehicles transporting 16 people or more without any compensation will have to apply for this number
  • If you transport hazardous material using a commercial vehicle, this again necessitates you to obtain a USDOT number

4. Do I Need An MC Authority / MC Number?

If you will be operating as a for hire carrier, transporting passengers or regulated commodities in interstate commerce you will need to apply for an MC number. This applies to those that will be arranging for the transport of passengers or regulated commodities in interstate commerce as well.

5. How To Apply For Your USDOT Number

Before you begin registering for your DOT number it is important that you make no mistakes while registering for it. For this reason, it is advised that you go through a third party dot compliance service provider for your compliance needs and obtain your USDOT number. However, you can also apply for your USDOT number by going to the FMCSA website if you choose.

6. How To Apply For Your MC Number/Operating Authority

You must first create a business entity to obtain your operating authority MC number. You must obtain your EIN, which is the employer identification number through the IRS. In the process, you will also have to get pre-approval for liability and cargo insurance. If you are unable to do that, your MC authority application will not get approved. Yes, if you are wondering, obtaining your MC authority is a lot more complicated than getting your Dot number.

  • To apply for your MC authority, you will have to refer to your business plan and determine your registration needs with the FMCSA.
  • Remember to note down your truck-related information such as the year of purchase, VIN, weight, combination weight, license plates, details of incorporation, and the like. 
  • You will also need your USDOT number to get your MC authority.
  • And yes, how can you forget filing your BOC-3 paperwork, applying for HVUT which is the heavy vehicle use tax, and obtaining your unified carrier registration permit as you proceed in the application process?
  • You must also set up your IFTA which is the International Fuel Tax Agreement account and enroll in the International Registration Plan without any delay.
  • As per the rules laid down by the FMCSA and the Department of Transportation, you will have to enroll in a drug and alcohol testing program as well.

7. Finding Your USDOT Number

Looking up your USDOT number is easy. Just go through the FMCSA website and follow the directions. Or you can choose to contact your third party administrator and they will do the needful in only a matter of a few seconds.

8. Finding Your MC Number

Finding your MC number or MC authority is also easy. You just have to go to the FMCSA website with your USDOT number or company name. But you will be able to find your MC number faster if you connect with your dot compliance facilitator instead.

Final Thoughts

Remember, dot compliance is not only about securing the most relevant permits or updating your licenses or performing regular checks and inspections on your vehicles, and maintaining a complete drug and alcohol use and abuse policy at your workplace. It is about the safety of your workers, employees, and the public in general. It is also about keeping your business ethical and lawful all the while making sure that nothing interrupts your business functions. Get in touch with your third party administrator to understand your compliance needs better.



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