How to get your MC number

Starting your own trucking business is an exciting step forward in your career. However, before you can head out on the road, you’ll need to complete the necessary registration and paperwork - and that includes getting your MC authority. The process can take some time to complete and might seem daunting at first, but we’re going to break it down step-by-step to make things easier. 

What is an MC number? 

In the trucking industry, you’ll often hear the terms ‘MC number’ and ‘MC authority’ used interchangeably, but they mean the same thing. ‘MC’ stands for motor carrier, and this is a number given to you by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

This number identifies you as a motor carrier for hire who is registered to transport regulated cargo. It also gives you the authority to operate across state lines. 

What is the difference between an MC number and a USDOT number? 

In the process of registering your trucking business, you’ll also need to get your USDOT number. Your MC number and your USDOT number are two different registration numbers that are essential to starting a trucking business. All commercial vehicles that transport passengers or cargo need USDOT numbers for safety permits and records, but not every commercial vehicle needs an MC number. 

Who needs an MC authority? 

If you are an owner-operator of your own trucking company, you’re most likely going to need an MC number in order to start working. MC authorities are necessary to transport regulated goods across state lines or from the US into Canada. 

Who does not need an MC authority?

Not all commercial truck drivers are going to need an MC number. If you’re working for a company as an employee, you’ll operate under their existing MC authority, so you won’t need your own. 

If you run your own business, there are a few specific scenarios where you won’t need an MC authority. This happens if you’re only working in one state or a federally designated commercial zone, or if you’re only transporting exempt unregulated goods. However, jobs that fit this criteria are limited, so most owner-operators will need to get their MC authority eventually. 

How much does getting an MC authority cost?

To get your MC authority, you’ll need to pay a one-time $300 fee to the FMCSA. However, there are other fees that you’ll need to pay to complete the registration process. For example, process agents usually charge fees of at least $50, and IRP registration fees can be as high as $2,000. 

How to get an MC authority

Here’s a step-by-step look at how to get your MC authority. 

1. Register your business with the government.

Before you can register with the USDOT and FMCSA, you’ll need to register your business with the government in your state. You’ll need to decide what kind of business structure you’d like to use for tax purposes, whether that be a sole proprietorship, an LLC, an S corporation, or something else. Consider consulting with an accountant for this process, as it will affect the taxes you pay down the line. 

2. Get an EIN.

Next, you’ll need to get an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, from the IRS. This is also for tax purposes, and you’ll need it to complete your MC authority application. 

3. Get pre-approval for insurance.

All trucking companies are legally required to have both auto liability and general liability insurance as well as cargo insurance. You’ll need proof of this insurance later on in the registration process, so getting pre-approved now will make things easier and faster. 

4. Register with USDOT.

Registering with the US Department of Transportation is one of the most important steps in this registration process. You’ll need your DOT number in order to process with your MC authority application. You’ll also need it for things like safety inspections and audits later on. 

This process is done online through the Unified Registration System. Once you’ve received your USDOT number, you’ll need to renew it every two years. 

5. Apply for MC authority.

Once you’ve received your USDOT number, you can continue through the Unified Registration System to apply for MC authority. Make sure you have all of your vehicles ready to ensure the process goes smoothly. You’ll also need to make sure you’re registering for the appropriate authority for the cargo you’ll be carrying. 

6. File your BOC-3 form. 

One essential part of getting your MC number is filing your BOC-3 form. This form is legally required and designates a process agent who will accept legal documents on your behalf. There are many process agent companies that offer this service online. 

7. File for Unified Carrier Registration. 

Your Unified Carrier Registration, or UCR, serves as proof of insurance for trucking companies, and it is legally required. If you were pre approved for insurance earlier, it will make this process much easier and faster. You will need both your USDOT and MC numbers in order to file for this permit. 

8. Pay HVUT. 

Before you can start operating, you’ll need to set up and pay your Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) using IRS form 2290. This is a tax on all heavy vehicles that operate on American public highways, and you’ll need to have paid it in order to continue with the next steps. 

9. Register for International Registration Plan.

The International Registration Plan, or IRP, gives trucking companies the ability to operate throughout the 48 contiguous US states and in Canada. You’ll need all of your vehicle details in order your complete your registration. 

10. Set up your IFTA account.

The International Fuel Trade Agreement, or IFTA, is an agreement between the US and Canada that standardizes fuel taxes across the two countries. All trucking companies that operate across these areas will need to be registered with the IFTA and complete quarterly tax returns. 

11. Set up drug and alcohol testing. 

The United States has strict laws regarding drug and alcohol testing for all commercial truck drivers. Before you can start operating, you’ll need to enroll yourself and any other drivers working for you in a drug and alcohol testing program. 

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be authorized to provide trucking services in the United States and can start taking on trucking jobs. Ready to streamline your trucking business? Be sure to check out Rose Rocket, the #1 rated TMS. 

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