Obtain Operating Authority

To obtain Federal Motor Carrier Authority you will have to submit applications for each step of the procedure. From start to finish the process usually takes between 21 and 24 days, but can take much longer if there is a delay in submitting the required documentation. Keystone Management Services (KMS) can save you the time and trouble in obtaining the Motor Carrier Authority as well as advanced services. See our Trucker Price Packages for details.


The information offered below is for your benefit and to help orient you with the definitions and procedures needed to operate a truck on the nation’s highways.

Carrier Definitions

Company Drivers are drivers who are hired as employees of a company. Most of the paperwork needed is taken care of by the company.

Leased Own/Owner Operator leased or hired out to a carrier.

Independent Contractor has his own authority and owns his business. This is also known as a for-hire carrier. As defined by law, a for-hire carrier is “a person providing motor vehicle transportation of property or passengers for compensation.” This includes common carriers (carriers who ship for different companies) and contract carriers (carriers who limit their services to particular shippers).

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Business Entity Selection

The name you use for your authority can be your personal name or it can be your personal name followed by a Doing Business As (D/B/A) names. If you use a D/B/A name, it can be put on your truck signs without your personal name.

You can also use a Limited Liability Company (LLC) name or a Corporate (Inc.) name. These names must first be registered with the Secretary of State in the state in which you are based. The name you register with must be unique because you cannot use a name that has already been registered.

Give us a call and we will be glad to help you research a name for your authority.

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FMCSA Authority Procedures

When you are a for-hire carrier and haul loads across state lines (interstate carrier) you must obtain authority from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Carriers who operate within state border may be required to obtain intrastate (state) authority. In order to be granted FMCSA authority the following procedures must be successfully completed:

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Federal Employer Identification Number

This is a nine-digit number that the IRS assigns to you to identify you as a taxpayer required to file various business tax returns.

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USDOT Number

All new motor carriers wishing to operate in interstate commerce must file for a USDOT number. This number will serve as a unique identifier for you when the USDOT collects and monitors the safety information of the company through audits, compliance reviews, accident investigations, and inspections. This information has to be updated bi-annually.

Obtain a Motor Carrier (MC) Number

This is the Federal operating authority required for all interstate motor carriers providing for-hire motor vehicle transportation of passengers and regulated commodities. Vehicles weighing 10,001 pounds or more and providing interstate for-hire motor transportation must comply. (After submitting the necessary forms to obtain authority you will be assigned a Docket Number which will be used as a reference number for all your information. When you are granted authority, this Docket Number will become your Motor Carrier Number).

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This form designates a process agent upon whom court papers may be served in any legal proceeding brought against a motor carrier, broker*, or freight forwarder. Every motor carrier registered with the Federal Highway Administration must list the name and address of an agent from each state. Brokers must designate a legal process agent in each state where offices are located or where contracts will be written.

*A broker arranges for the transportation of property where the actual movement is performed by FMCSA licensed motor carriers. Brokers assume no responsibility for the property being transported.

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Proof of Financial Responsibility

Financial responsibility means having insurance policies or surety bonds to meet the minimum public liability requirements. Public liability means liability for bodily injury, property damage, and environmental restoration on each power unit crossing state lines. These must be on file with the FMCSA.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Insurance is time sensitive. You need to obtain insurance within the first two (2) weeks after the MC number is filed to avoid any delays. If your insurance is not on file within the first sixty (60) days your authority will be dismissed – if not on file within the year, the authority process starts over again. The minimum amount of insurance coverage for liability is $750,000, $5,000 for cargo and $10,000 for loss of or damage to property.

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Docket Number and Letter of Authority

After submitting the necessary forms and proofs you will be assigned a Docket Number which will be used as a reference number for all your information. When you are granted authority, this Docket Number will become your Motor Carrier Number (MCN).

You still will NOT be authorized to start hauling loads until the application process is completed and authority is granted by FMCSA in Washington, D.C.

Once you have been granted authority, you will be issued a letter of authority which you will be required to carry with you in the truck. Under Common Authority, this letter is called a Certificate. If you apply for Contract Authority, this letter is called a Permit. It usually takes 7-10 days to receive your letter. We provide an expedited authority letter service. For a small fee we will fax your letter to you the same day it is issued by the FMCSA.

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New Entrant Safety Monitoring

Once you have received the USDOT number you will be placed in the FMCSA New Entrant program. You will then serve an 18-month safety-monitoring period (known as New Entrant Safety Audit). During this period your roadside safety performance will be closely monitored to ensure basic safety management controls are operating effectively. Also during this period you will receive a safety audit. This audit is usually conducted at least three months after you have been granted authority in order to allow you to have sufficient records for the evaluation. Should you fail an audit, the FMCSA will contact you and arrange for an additional audit to note the corrections made.

For a small fee, we will provide you with a Safety Guide to help you through the safety-monitoring period.

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Trucker Price Packages

Bronze Trucker Package BRONZE TRUCKER PACKAGE: Includes all Fees!

  • USDOT Number
  • Either Common or Contract Authority MC Number
  • BOC-3 Process Agents
  • ALL FOR ONLY $450

Silver Trucker Package SILVER TRUCKER PACKAGE: Everything in our Bronze Trucker Package PLUS …

  • Unified Carrier Registration (UCR)
  • Includes State Filing Fee (0-2 Trucks)
  • ALL FOR ONLY $565

Gold Trucker Package GOLD TRUCKER PACKAGE: Everything in our Silver Trucker Package PLUS …

  • Simple Permit for Kentucky (KYU), New Mexico (WGT), and New York (NY-HUT)
  • Including State Filing Fees (1 Truck)
  • ALL FOR ONLY $690

The Works Trucker Package THE WORKS TRUCKER PACKAGE: Everything in our Gold Trucker Package PLUS …

  • Register and file your company entity with the Secretary of State
  • Apply for your Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • ALL FOR ONLY $790
  • *** State filing fee not included***

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