Frequently Asked Questions

Driver Qualifications

The FMCSRs do not specify any maximum age limit for drivers.
No. Neither the CDL requirements in part 383 nor the FMCSRs in parts 390-399 require drivers engaged purely in intrastate commerce to be 21 years old. The States may set lower age thresholds for intrastate drivers.
None. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 621-634, recognizes an exception when age is a bona fide occupational qualification. 29 U.S.C. 623(f)(1).
No. The FMCSRs apply to, and impose responsibilities on, motor carriers and their drivers. The FHWA does not regulate driver leasing companies or temporary help service companies.
No. The Act does not require a motor carrier to place a returning veteran who does not meet the minimum physical standards into his/her previous driving position. The returning veteran must meet the physical requirements and obtain a medical examiner’s certificate before driving in interstate operations.
No, if the hearing-impaired driver with an exemption is capable of reading and writing in the English language. In that circumstance, the hearing-impaired driver satisfies the English language requirement. The absence of an ability to speak in English is not an indication that the individual cannot read and write in English sufficiently to communicate with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records.

DOT Previous Employment Verifications

Yes. Driver information services or companies acting as the motor carrier’s agent may be used to contact State agencies. However, the motor carrier is responsible for ensuring the information obtained is accurate.

Registration, Operating Authority & Other DOT Filings

You are required to obtain a USDOT number if you have a vehicle that:

Is used to transport the types and quantities of hazardous materials requiring a safety permit in intrastate commerce (see 49 CFR 385.403).

OR

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation;

AND is involved in Interstate commerce:

Trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States —

  • Between a place in a State and a place outside of such State (including a place outside of the United States);
  • Between two places in a State through another State or a place outside of the United States; or
  • Between two places in a State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States.

You are required by FMCSA to obtain a USDOT Number and comply with the Federal Regulations.

It is the responsibility of motor carrier operators and drivers to know and comply with all applicable Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Safety compliance and safe operations translate into saved lives and protected property. We believe the information in this package, when effectively applied, will contribute to safer motor carrier operations and highways.

In general, companies that do the following are required to have interstate Operating Authority (MC number) in addition to a DOT number:

  • Transport passengers in interstate commerce (for a fee or other compensation, whether direct or indirect)
  • Transport federally-regulated commodities owned by others or arranging for their transport, (for a fee or other compensation, in interstate commerce)

FMCSA operating authority is often identified as an “MC,” “FF,” or “MX” number, depending on the type of authority that is granted. Unlike the USDOT Number application process, a company may need to obtain multiple operating authorities to support its planned business operations. Operating Authority dictates the type of operation a company may run and the cargo it may carry.

Yes. The type(s) of Operating Authority requested will impact the type and level of insurance that is required by FMCSA. Therefore, carefully select only the type(s) of Operating Authority relevant to the business. FMCSA does not refund application fees. Descriptions of the different types of interstate Operating Authority are as follows:

Motor Carrier of Property (except Household Goods)
An authorized for-hire Motor Carrier that transports regulated commodities (except household goods) for the general public in exchange for payment. Motor Carriers of Property (except Household Goods) must file proof of public liability (bodily injury and property damage — BI & PD) with FMCSA in order to obtain interstate Operating Authority. Cargo insurance is not required.

Motor Carrier of Household Goods (Moving Companies)
An authorized for-hire Motor Carrier that transports only household goods for the general public in exchange for payment. Household goods are personal items that will be used in a home. They include items shipped from a factory or store, if purchased with the intent to use in a home, and transported at the request of the householder who pays for the transportation charges. Motor Carriers of Household Goods must file proof of both public liability (BI & PD) and cargo insurance with FMCSA in order to obtain interstate Operating Authority.

Broker of Property (except Household Goods)
An individual, partnership, or corporation that receives payment for arranging the transportation of property (excluding household goods) belonging to others by using an authorized Motor Carrier. A Broker does not assume responsibility for the property and nevertakes possession of it.

Broker of Household Goods
An individual, partnership, or corporation that receives payment for arranging the transportation of household goods belonging to others by using an authorized Motor Carrier. A Broker does not assume responsibility for the household goods and never takes possession of the goods. Household goods are personal items and property that will be used in a home. An individual, partnership or corporation requires registration as a household goods broker if the motor carrier providing transportation will also provide some or all of the following additional services, binding and non-binding estimates, inventorying, protective packing and unpacking of individual items at personal residences and loading and unloading at personal residences.

United States-based Enterprise Carrier of International Cargo (except Household Goods)
A company that transports international cargo (excluding household goods) and is headquartered in the United States, but is owned or controlled (greater than 55%) by a Mexican citizen or resident alien. International cargo must originate in or be destined for a foreign country.

United States-based Enterprise Carrier of International Household Goods
A company that transports international household goods and is headquartered in the United States, but is owned or controlled (greater than 55%) by a Mexican citizen or resident alien. Household goods are personal items that will be used in a home. They include items shipped from a factory or store, if purchased with the intent to use in a home, and transported at the request of the householder who pays for the transportation charges. International household goods must originate in or be destined for a home in a foreign country.

Applicants for authority to operate as motor carriers of household goods or freight forwarders of household goods also must offer arbitration as a means of settling loss and damage disputes on collect-on-delivery shipments. (See 49 U.S.C. 14708.)

Other Authorities

  • Freight Forwarder Authority
  • Motor Passenger Carrier Authority
  • Non-North America-Domiciled Motor Carriers
  • Mexico-based Carriers for Motor Carrier Authority to Operate Beyond U.S. Municipalities and Commercial Zones on the U.S.-Mexico Border (Includes instructions and application in Spanish)
  • Mexican Certificate of Registration for Foreign Motor Carriers and Foreign Motor Private Carriers Under 49 U.S.C. 13902
Unified Registration System (first-time applicants)

First-time applicants, who have never registered with FMCSA before and have not been issued a US DOT number, need to register via the new Unified Registration System as of December 12, 2015. To register, click here.

Applicants who are already registered for a USDOT number, or who are applying for an additional authority, can apply online using FMCSA’s legacy registration system with a credit card.

The FMCSA requires all entities under its jurisdiction to update their information every two years. You are required to provide this update every two years even if your company has not changed its information, has ceased interstate operations since the last update, or is no longer in business and you did not notify FMCSA.

Failure to complete a Biennial Update will result in deactivation of your USDOT number and may result in civil penalties of up to $1,000 per day, not to exceed $10,000.

Updating your information is free.

Filing Schedule
Each motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider must file the appropriate form at the following times:

  • Before it begins operations; and
  • Every 24 months according to the following schedule:
  • USDOT number ending in: Must file by last day of:
    1 January
    2 February
    3 March
    4 April
    5 May
    6 June
    7 July
    8 August
    9 September
    0 October

    If the next-to-last digit of its USDOT Number is odd, the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider shall file its update in every odd-numbered calendar year. If the next-to-last digit of the USDOT Number is even, the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider shall file its update in every even-numbered calendar year.

    Update Online
    In order to complete the registration online, you’ll need your USDOT number, assigned PIN, EIN/SSN, and Company Official information. You can request a PIN mailed or e-mailed to you. Carriers needing to complete the Motor Carrier Identification Report (MCS-150) OR the Combined Identification and Hazardous Materials Safety Permit Application (MCS-150B) may do so online through the FMCSA Registration Website.

    Print an updated MCS-150 form for your records upon completion of the online registration if you prefer a hard copy.

    The MCS-150 form may also be submitted to the FMCSA via fax or mail.

In addition to filing an application for operating authority, all applicants for motor carrier, freight forwarder, and broker authorities must have specific insurance and legal process agent documents on file before the FMCSA will issue the authorities. The required filings vary, based on the types of registrations involved. Below is a list of pre-registration forms, followed by an explanation of which types of registrants are subject to filing those forms.

Please note that first-time applicants with FMCSA must apply using the Unified Registration System (URS) as of December 12, 2015. Existing registration- or authority-holders may apply for authorities using the OP-series forms until a later date. On January 17, 2017, FMCSA published a Federal Register notice with more details on the suspension of the URS effectiveness date.

Liability and cargo insurance forms must be submitted directly (online) by the home office of the insurance company furnishing the coverage. The FMCSA does not furnish copies of insurance forms.

Form Description Authorities Subject to Filing
BMC-91 or BMC-91X Public liability insurance (bodily injury/property damage/environmental restoration)
  • Motor Carrier
  • Freight Forwarder (Note: Non-vehicle operating freight forwarders may seek waiver of this requirement.)
  • Freight:–$750,000 – $5,000,000, depending on commodities transported; $300,000 for non-hazardous freight moved only in vehicles weighing under 10,001 lbs.
  • Passengers:–$5,000,000; $1,500,000 for registrants operating only vehicles with seating capacity of 15 or fewer passengers.
BMC-34 or BMC-83
  • Cargo insurance–$5,000 per vehicle
  • $10,000 per occurrence
  • Household Goods Motor Carrier
  • Household Goods Freight Forwarder
BMC-84 or BMC-85
  • Freight Forwarder
  • Broker of Freight
BOC-3 Service of Process Agents All Authorities
MCS-90 Endorsement for Motor Carrier Policies of Insurance for Public Liability under Sections 29 and 30 of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 Hazmat Safety Permit Carriers

How to File

Applicants should be prepared to contact their agents to request filing of the required forms immediately after obtaining their designated docket number. These filings must be received within 90 days after the FMCSA has published public notice of intention to register the applicant. (Applicants will be notified by letter of their docket number and date of publication in the FMCSA Register.)

Applicants are cautioned to ensure that the name and address of the business as set out in all pre-registration filings match exactly the name and address provided in their application for operating authority filings. Any deviation will result in rejection of the supplemental pre-registration filings.

A process agent is a representative upon whom court papers may be served in any proceeding brought against a motor carrier, broker, or freight forwarder. When all Unified Registration System (URS) provisions are implemented, every motor carrier (of property or passengers) shall make a designation for each State in which it is authorized to operate and for each State traversed during such operations. Before that time, only for-hire carriers are required to designate a process agent. Brokers are required to list process agents in each state in which they have an office and in which they write contracts. FMCSA Regulation 49 CFR Part 366 details more about the Designation of Process Agents by Motor Carriers and Brokers. On January 17, 2017, FMCSA published a Federal Register notice with more details on the suspension of the URS effectiveness date.

How do I designate a process agent?

The applicant should contact a process agent, who can file Form BOC-3 (Designation of Process Agents) with the FMCSA. Only one completed form may be on file. It must include all states for which agency designations are required. One copy must be retained by the carrier or broker at its principal place of business.

Companies may select any blanket company on the process agent list (they are not limited to the state in which they are domiciled). Each blanket company has a process agent they work with in each state.

DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing

Generally, DOT regulations cover safety-sensitive transportation employers and employees. Each DOT agency (e.g. FRA, FMCSA, FTA, FAA, and PHMSA) and the USCG have specific drug and alcohol testing regulations that outline who is subject to their testing regulations.

Also, you may want to try our “Am I Covered?” decision tree. It will assist you in determining whether or not you are covered.

The DOT regulations do not address hiring, termination, or other employment actions. These decisions are solely the employer’s, which may be based on company policy and/or any collective bargaining agreements.

CSA Data & BASIC Scores

CSA is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) safety compliance and enforcement program, which holds motor carriers and drivers accountable for their safety on our Nation’s roads. CSA affects carriers subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, carriers transporting passengers or cargo in interstate commerce, and Hazardous Materials carriers operating in intrastate commerce. CSA may also impact carriers whose State requires that they obtain a U.S. DOT Number. CSA consists of three key components:

    1. The Safety Measurement System (SMS) is FMCSA’s system for identifying unsafe carriers that should receive interventions. The SMS allows FMCSA, law enforcement, and motor carriers to see a comprehensive profile of safety issues. The SMS automatically identifies carriers that pose the greatest safety risk so that resources can be prioritized. Review the SMS Methodology to learn more about the SMS.
    2. The safety interventions include tools to more efficiently and effectively bring carriers into compliance.
    3. The FMCSA uses the current safety rating process outlined in 49 CFR Part 385, which determines a carrier’s safety fitness through an Onsite Investigation. Safety rating information is available on the SAFER Website.
The FMCSA uses seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) to determine a motor carrier’s safety performance and compliance relative to other carriers. Five BASICs used to be publicly available online in the Safety Measurement System (SMS), while Crash Indicator and Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance were only available to motor carriers logged into their own safety profile, or enforcement personnel.

Currently, all BASIC Scores are hidden from the public, though inspection and violation data for the five original public scores are still viewable.

BASIC Categories

  1. Unsafe Driving – Operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in a dangerous or careless manner.
    Example violations include: speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change, texting while
    operating a CMV, not wearing safety belts.
  2. Crash Indicator (not public) – Historical pattern of crash involvement, including frequency and severity. This BASIC is
    based on information from State-reported crashes that meet reportable crash standards. All
    reportable crashes are used regardless of the carrier’s or driver’s role in the crash. This
    BASIC uses crash history that is not specifically a behavior but instead the consequence of a
    behavior or a set of behaviors.
  3. Hours of Service Compliance – Operation of CMVs by drivers who are ill, fatigued, or in noncompliance with the HOS
    regulations. This BASIC includes violations of regulations pertaining to records of duty status
    (RODS) as they relate to HOS requirements and the management of CMV driver fatigue.
    Example violations include: operating a CMV while ill or fatigued, requiring or permitting a
    property-carrying CMV driver to drive more than 11 hours, failing to preserve RODS for 6
    months/failing to preserve supporting documents.
  4. Vehicle Maintenance – Failure to properly maintain a CMV and prevent shifting loads, spilled or dropped cargo, and overloading of a CMV. Example violations include: inoperative brakes, lights, and other mechanical defects, improper load securement, failure to make required repairs.
  5. Controlled Substances/Alcohol – Operation of CMVs by drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of
    prescription or over-the-counter medications. Example violations include: use or possession
    of controlled substances or alcohol, failing to implement an alcohol and/or controlled
    substance testing program.
  6. Hazardous Materials Compliance – Unsafe handling of HM on a CMV. Example violations include: failing to mark, label, or
    placard in accordance with the regulations, not properly securing a package containing HM,
    leaking containers, failing to conduct a test or inspection on a cargo tank when required by
    the U.S. DOT.
  7. Driver Fitness – Operation of CMVs by drivers who are unfit to operate a CMV due to lack of training,
    experience, or medical qualifications. Example violations include: failing to have a valid and
    appropriate commercial driver’s license (CDL), being medically unqualified to operate a CMV,
    failing to maintain driver qualification files.

The BASICs organize data from roadside inspections, including driver and vehicle violations,
crash reports from the last two years, and investigation results. Violations adversely affect your
company’s SMS results for two years and may prioritize your company for an FMCSA intervention,
ranging from warning letters to full Onsite Investigations that could result in an Out-of-Service Order
(OOSO) or a change to your company’s safety rating.

    1. Ensure compliance by being knowledgeable of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the Hazardous Materials (HM) Regulations, if applicable.
    2. Understand how your safety management contributes to your safety problems.
    3. Check and update your MCS-150 carrier registration information whenever there is a change to your company’s profile and at least every two years, as is required by regulation.
    4. Review your inspection and crash reports data and request corrections as needed.
    5. Educate yourself and your employees on the regulations and industry best practices.

DOT Compliance Reviews