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How to get an MC Authority for your business

Starting a trucking business can be a lucrative venture, but it’s essential to navigate the regulatory landscape effectively. One crucial aspect of launching a successful trucking company is obtaining an MC Authority. In this guide, we will take you through the process of acquiring an MC Authority and help you understand its significance in the trucking industry.

What is an MC Authority?

MC Authority, or Motor Carrier Authority, is a legal requirement for businesses involved in interstate truck commerce within the United States. This authority is issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and serves as a permit to operate as a for-hire motor carrier. Essentially, it’s a license that allows your truck to transport goods and passengers across state lines, ensuring that you comply with federal safety regulations. Obtaining an MC Authority is a crucial step in launching and maintaining a trucking business, as it grants you the legal right to engage in interstate commerce. Let’s delve deeper into the process and requirements for acquiring this authority, so you can start your trucking journey on the right track.

Types of Authority

When applying for an MC Authority, it’s essential to understand that there are different types available. The type of authority you need depends on the nature of your trucking business and the services you intend to provide. The type of your truck also plays a certain role Here are the main types of MC Authority:

Common Carrier Authority:

This is the most common type of authority. It allows carriers to transport general goods for compensation and serves as a regular permit for interstate commerce.

Contract Carrier Authority:

If your trucking business has specific contracts with shippers and you transport goods under these contracts, you may need MC-CC authority. It’s essential when you work with particular clients and do not provide general freight services.

Broker Authority:

If your business acts as a freight broker or intermediary, connecting shippers with carriers, you may need this authority. This type of authority allows you to arrange transportation services but not transport the goods yourself.

Exempt For-Hire Authority:

This authority is for businesses that provide transportation services but do not need common or contract carrier authority. It includes services like transportation for your company’s goods or personal property.

Choosing the right type of authority is crucial, as it determines the kind of services you can legally offer. Additionally, the requirements and documentation may vary for each type, so make sure to select the one that aligns with your business model.

Specialized MC Authorities

In addition to the main types of Authority, there are also specialized authorities that cater to specific niches and services within the trucking industry. These specialized authorities allow businesses to operate under a unique set of regulations based on their particular area of expertise. Here are some examples:

Household Goods Authority:

This authority is for businesses engaged in transporting household goods, like moving companies. It involves regulations designed to protect consumers and ensure the safe transportation of personal belongings.

Refrigerated (Reefer) Authority:

If your business specializes in transporting temperature-sensitive cargo, you may need this authority. It covers the transportation of items like perishable foods, pharmaceuticals, and other goods that require temperature control.

Hazmat Authority:

When your business transports hazardous materials, you need Hazmat Authority. This type of authority covers the strict regulations associated with the handling, storage, and transportation of dangerous goods, ensuring safety for everyone involved.

Livestock and Agricultural Commodities Authority:

This authority is tailored for businesses involved in the transportation of live animals or agricultural commodities. It deals with regulations aimed at protecting the well-being of animals and ensuring the quality of transported agricultural products.

Passenger Carrier Authority:

If you operate a business that provides passenger transportation services, such as a charter bus company or limousine service, you will need Passenger Carrier Authority. It covers the safety and service standards required for passenger transportation.

It’s essential to select the specialized MC Authority that best suits your business model. Operating without the correct authority can result in legal complications and potential penalties. By obtaining the appropriate specialized authority, your business can navigate the industry regulations more effectively and provide services within your niche

Submitting Your Transfer of Authority

Submitting the change of authority for your MC number is a critical step in the process. Here’s how to do it:

Online Submission

The preferred method is through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Unified Registration System (URS) website. You can create an account, log in, and follow the prompts to complete the application.

Paper Forms

If you prefer to submit a paper application, you can download the necessary forms from the FMCSA website. Fill out the forms accurately and submit them by mail to the address provided on the forms.


Be prepared to pay the necessary filing fees when submitting your application. The FMCSA accepts electronic payment methods, credit cards, and checks.

Are the MC Number and USDOT Number the Same?

The MC Number and USDOT Number, despite being two distinct identification types, issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration under the U.S. Department of Transportation, are not the same. They serve different purposes and are associated with various aspects of operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) business. Let’s delve into the differences:

MC Number (Motor Carrier Number):


The MC Number is primarily used to identify motor carriers involved in interstate commerce, meaning they transport goods or passengers across state lines. It serves as a unique identifier for tracking and monitoring the safety and compliance of these motor carriers.


Businesses that operate as motor carriers for hire or transport passengers for hire across state lines typically need an MC Number. It’s a critical requirement for obtaining operating authority and permits necessary for interstate operations.

Regulatory Focus:

The FMCSA uses the MC to enforce safety regulations and ensure that motor carriers comply with safety standards, maintain proper insurance coverage, and meet the legal requirements for conducting business across state lines.

USDOT Number (United States Department of Transportation Number):


The USDOT Number is a more comprehensive identifier used for monitoring and regulating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) operating in the United States. This includes a broader range of CMVs, not limited to motor carriers.


The requirement for a USDOT Number is not limited to motor carriers alone. It applies to a variety of CMVs, including trucks and buses. However, there are exceptions based on the size, type, and usage of the vehicle.

Regulatory Focus:

The USDOT Number is instrumental in tracking safety compliance, recordkeeping, and inspections for CMVs of different types. It helps ensure the safety and reliability of CMVs operating within the United States.

In summary, the MC is specific to motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce, while the USDOT Number is a broader identifier for various commercial motor vehicles. While some motor carriers may need both an MC and a USDOT Number, it’s essential to understand the distinctions and ensure that your business has the appropriate identifier(s) based on its operations.

Who Needs an Authority?

Not every business involved in transporting goods or passengers by commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) requires a motor carrier authority. The need for MC authority depends on the nature of your business and the specific operations you conduct. Let’s explore who typically needs MOTOR CARRIER authority and who might be exempt:

For-Hire Motor Carriers:

Businesses that operate CMVs for the purpose of transporting property or passengers for compensation or hire across state lines are usually required to obtain MC authority. This includes common carriers that offer their services to the general public.

Private Carriers:

Private carriers, or businesses that transport their property or passengers as part of their primary business, are generally exempt from MC authority requirements. However, some exceptions apply if the private carrier engages in for-hire transportation services.


Freight brokers or property brokers, who act as intermediaries between shippers and carriers but do not take physical possession of the cargo, typically do not need MC authority. However, they must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as brokers.


Certain vehicles and operations are exempt from MOTOR CARRIER authority requirements, such as vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under 10,001 pounds or operations conducted entirely within a single state (intrastate operations).

Passenger Carriers:

Businesses providing passenger transportation services for compensation, including charter bus companies and limousine services, generally require motor carrier authority for interstate operations.

Hazardous Materials:

If your business transports hazardous materials in quantities that require placarding, you will need motor carrier authority, irrespective of the vehicle’s weight rating.

It’s essential to determine your business’s precise status and transportation activities to ascertain whether you need motor carrier authority. Understanding the regulatory requirements and potential exemptions is crucial for maintaining compliance with federal laws and ensuring the smooth and lawful operation of your CMV business.

How do I get a Motor Carrier Number?

Getting a Motor Carrier authority is a vital process that allows your business to legally operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) for interstate transportation. Here are the essential steps involved in acquiring an motor carrier authority:

Determine your motor carrier Authority Type:

Before applying for motor carrier authority, you need to identify the specific type that corresponds to your business operations. The types typically include Motor Carrier of Property or Motor Carrier of Passengers . The FMCSA provides distinct authority codes for different categories of transport.

Register for a USDOT Number:

The first step is to ensure your business has an active USDOT Number. If you do not have one, you can register for it through the FMCSA. The USDOT Number is a prerequisite for motor carrier authority, and you’ll need it when filling out the application.

Prepare Financial Responsibility:

Depending on the type of operation, you may need to meet financial responsibility requirements. This typically involves obtaining a minimum amount of liability insurance to cover potential accidents and damages. For property carriers, the minimum liability insurance requirement is often higher than for passenger carriers.

Access the FMCSA Portal:

To apply for motor carrier authority, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Portal online. You’ll need to create an account if you don’t have one already.

Submit the Application:

After creating an FMCSA Portal account, complete the appropriate application for your motor carrier authority type. Ensure that all the required fields are accurately filled out. Double-check your information, as errors or inconsistencies can lead to delays or rejections.

Pay the Application Fee:

Each motor carrier authority application requires a fee payment, which can vary depending on the type of authority and the scope of your operations. The FMCSA provides information on its official website regarding the specific fees. It’s crucial to pay the correct fee to avoid processing delays.

Wait for Processing:

Once you’ve submitted your application and the associated fee, the FMCSA will review your request. The processing time can vary, but you can monitor the status of your application using the FMCSA Portal.

Obtain Your MOTOR CARRIER Authority:

When your application is approved, you’ll receive your motor carrier authority. It’s essential to keep a copy of your authority certificate in your commercial vehicles, as it serves as legal proof of your authorization for interstate operations.

Maintain Compliance:

After obtaining your motor carrier authority, you are obligated to adhere to all federal regulations and safety standards. Regularly review and update your business’s records, including vehicle and driver information, to ensure ongoing compliance with FMCSA requirements.

Renew Your motor carrier Authority:

Motor carrier authority is not a one-time process; it requires periodic renewal. Be aware of your renewal deadlines and initiate the renewal process to prevent any interruptions in your transportation services.

In conclusion, obtaining motor carrier authority is a critical step for businesses that engage in interstate transportation of property or passengers. This authority is necessary for legal compliance and ensuring the safety of your commercial motor vehicle operations. By following these steps and keeping updated on your regulatory obligations, you can establish and maintain your motor carrier authority effectively.

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