Does Your Business Need a USDOT or MC Number?

Does Your Business Need a USDOT or MC Number?

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) monitors and ensures compliance with motor carrier safety and commercial carrier regulations. Contrary to what many believe, 18-wheel trucks aren’t the only vehicles covered by FMCSA regulations. Depending on its operations, any business may be required to have a USDOT Number, an MC Number, or both.

USDOT Number

USDOT Numbers are unique identifiers used by the FMCSA when collecting and monitoring a company’s safety information, compliance reviews, crash investigations and inspections. A business involved in interstate commerce must have a USDOT Number if it owns a vehicle that:

  • Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous and transported in a quantity requiring placarding (whether interstate or intrastate);
  • 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;
  • 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.

Interstate commerce means trade, traffic or transportation in the United States that is:

  • 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.

In addition to FMCSA regulations, some states also require a USDOT Number to operate or register commercial motor vehicles, including Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and North Carolina.

MC Number (Operating Authority)

The FMCSA also issues various kinds of Operating Authority that dictate the type of operations a business may run and the cargo it may carry. This is known as an MC Number. Unlike USDOT numbers, which identify carriers operating in interstate commerce, MC Numbers identify carriers transporting regulated commodities for hire in interstate commerce.

An MC Number is generally required for businesses that:

  • Operate as for-hire carriers transporting goods or passengers for compensation;
  • Transport passengers in interstate commerce; or
  • Transport federally-regulated commodities or arranging for their transport, in interstate commerce.

Since there are different kinds of Operating Authority, a business may need more than one MC Number. And, different Operating Authorities may have different insurance requirements. For example, Motor Carriers of Passengers are required to have bodily injury and property damage insurance. The minimum required coverage is $5,000,000 if a company has any vehicles with a seating capacity of 16 or more passengers (including the driver); otherwise, the minimum required coverage is $1,500,000.

The FMCSA may impose penalties and assess fines for failing to have a required USDOT or MC Number. Businesses may face additional penalties in those states that have their own registration requirements. In Florida, for example, the failure to obtain a USDOT Number can result in a $500 fine.

Please contact us if you would like more information about complying with the various operating and insurance requirements governing your fleet or operations.

Additional information is also available in our weekly Risk Management Newsletters.