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September 30, 2022

What is the Role of MC Number in Transportation Industry

The importance of your MC number is undeniable and undisputed. Your MC number means your operating authority. In general, if you are a trucking company or a motor carrier, you must have your MC number with you. Let’s have a look at a few specific requirements that necessitate you to obtain your MC number before you start operating in the transport and logistics sector anywhere in the US:

  • If you are a motor carrier and operate as or on a for-hire basis, in exchange for a fee or other compensation, you are required to obtain your motor carrier operating authority
  • If you transport passengers or arrange for the transport of passengers in interstate commerce, you must obtain your MC authority before you start your business operations
  • When you are in the business of transporting federally regulated commodities or if you arrange for their transport in interstate commerce, you must obtain your MC authority

Understanding Your MC Number Or Operating Authority

Your MC number is your operating authority. It is the registration that is required by 49 USC 13902, 49 CFR part 365, 49 CFR part 368, and 49 CFR 392.9a.

The federal motor carrier safety administration refers to the operating authority as your MC, FF, or MX number depending upon the function that you perform in the transport industry and the type of authority that you have applied for. This is not your USDOT number application.

This means that as a company, you must apply for all your operating authorities that are applicable to your enterprise and support your business operations. The operating authority you obtain is going to determine the type of operation that you perform and the kind of cargo you carry or transport.

If you are a new applicant, you are required to register online through the unified carrier registration system. You are first required to obtain your USDOT number and then subsequently you will be issued your MC/MX/FF number.

Your MC number and your US DOT number are going to dictate the level of insurance that you are required to obtain and also your financial responsibilities that as a company you must maintain throughout the year. We will discuss more about it in the subsequent sections.

But for now, let’s have a look at the carriers that are not required to obtain an operating authority or MC number before they start conducting their business:

  • Any and all private carriers, and they may include carriers that transport their own cargo
  • All the for-hire carriers that transport exempt commodities exclusively which means cargo that is not regulated by any federal body or undertaking
  • If you are a carrier and operate within a federally designated commercial zone exclusively, you will be exempt from all interstate authority rules

Note: A commercial zone is a geographic location or territory which may include multiple states, regions, locations, or a major metropolitan city. It may also share a border with a major city such as Washington DC or any other major town.

Understand Whether You Need An MC Number For Your Company Or Not

  • Remember, if you are a for-hire company and if you transport people or cargo in exchange for compensation, you must apply for your MC number as a for-hire company. If you intend to transport people or cargo across state borders or national borders for that matter, you need to have an interstate operating authority.
  • You must remember that there are certain exceptions to these rules. The chances are that you will have to obtain your MC number if your company meets any of the two requirements mentioned above.
  • You must also understand the applicability of your MC number to your company if you perform interstate operations only. This means that if you are transporting people or cargo within one particular state, there will be one operating authority specifically applicable to your business only. 
  • You will need a USDOT number in that case and for that, you might need to associate with a dependable third-party administrator. This is because there are a lot of formalities, paperwork, documentation, and various rules that are to be followed. 

It becomes rather tiring and complicated for a business owner to manage all these things on his own. A DOT facilitator will be your best bet in this situation.

How To Apply For Your MC Number/Operating Authority?

If you want to start operating in the transport and logistics sector in the US, you must obtain your MC number right away. It is going to take a few months for you to acquire it and this is why it is recommended that you initiate the process immediately.

You must have a valid credit card to pay for the application fee which is going to be non-refundable. The ideal way to do that is to apply online on the FMCSA website.

  • If you are a first-time applicant, you may need to register with the FMCSA and get your US DOT number issued first. You will have to use the new unified carrier registration system to do that.
  • In case you are already registered with the federal motor carrier safety administration and want to obtain operating authority, you can use the online form given on their website and pay through your credit card. You can send the form via US mail.
  • Make the payment and application available to

The federal motor carrier safety administration

1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, MC-RS

Room W65-206

Washington, DC 20590

  • If you are already registered with the FMCSA, you can send a check via US mail to add an operating authority. This process is a little longer as compared to other processes. It is going to take somewhere between 6 and 8 weeks to complete.
  • You can send the payment and the application form to

The federal motor carrier safety administration

PO Box 6200-33

Portland, OR 97228-6200

  • You can also use express mail to send your payments and completed application form to

US Bank government lockbox

Attn: Federal motor carrier safety administration 6200-33

17650 NE Sandy Blvd.

Portland, OR 97230

This could be a very long procedure. This is why even the FMCSA and the department of transportation would recommend you to associate with a dependable and highly experienced third-party administrator. They can file all the documents and get you the necessary permits and licenses very easily.

Difference Between Your MC Number And US DOT Number

Your MC Number Is Your Motor Carrier Number

It is also your interstate operating authority. It functions as the unique identifier that is given to you by the federal motor carrier safety administration. If you are a moving company operating in interstate commerce or in other words, if you transport cargo across various states, you will be required to acquire an MC number.

Your USDOT Number Is The US Department Of Transportation Number

This is an interstate operating authority and again, a unique identifier. The government uses this number to monitor transport companies and record their critical information, perform compliance reviews, maintain inspections, crash investigations, and other critical operations.

There are numerous points of difference between the MC number and US DOT number that you must be aware of before you start your business operations.

Final Thoughts

It is always advised to go with a third-party administrator when you are trying to get your motor carrier authority. There are two types of companies that you will come across. The first is the very basic category that is capable of getting you your USDOT number and MC number. The services of these companies are limited and they turn out to be quite affordable.

The second category of third-party administrators is the one that can perform several functions for you. They are a full-service enterprise. These companies can help you stay compliant with all the rules and regulations laid down by the federal motor carriers safety administration and the US department of transportation. It makes a lot of sense to associate with a dependable and adept third-party administrator in this time and age.

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