Securing Your MC Number


The logistics and auto transport sectors are realms of numerous regulations and processes. One pivotal element for new entrants and those seeking to expand their operational capacities is obtaining an MC (Motor Carrier) number. If you’re considering stepping into the world of interstate commerce in the transport sector or need a refresher on the importance and process of securing an MC number, this article will serve as your guide.

What is an MC Number?

The MC number, often referred to as “Operating Authority”, is issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This number identifies carriers operating in interstate (across state lines) commerce and determines the type of operation a company may run and the cargo it’s authorized to carry.

Who Needs an MC Number?

Not every transport entity requires an MC number. However, you should consider obtaining one if:

  1. You operate as a for-hire carrier transporting passengers or goods in interstate commerce.
  2. You transport federally regulated commodities, either as a private or for-hire entity.
  3. You provide broker or freight-forwarding services for compensation.

Even if you already possess a DOT number, if you fall under any of the categories above, you would still need an MC number.

How to Obtain an MC Number?

  1. Determine Your Operational Type: Identify the exact nature of your operations. Are you a carrier, broker, or freight forwarder? Do you transport passengers or commodities?
  2. File for a USDOT Number (If You Haven’t): Before you can apply for an MC number, you need to secure a USDOT number. This serves as your identification within the FMCSA’s systems.
  3. Complete the OP-1 Series Form: Head to the FMCSA’s website and complete the OP-1 series form that corresponds to your type of operation.
  4. Pay the Associated Fee: Like most federal applications, there’s a fee involved. Ensure you pay the necessary amount to process your MC number application. As of my last training data in September 2021, the fee is $300, but it’s always wise to check the current rate on the FMCSA’s website.
  5. Obtain Insurance: Once you’ve applied, you’ll need to secure insurance for your business type. For instance, motor carriers of property require both liability and cargo insurance.
  6. Undergo a Safety Audit: If you’re a motor carrier, you’ll undergo a safety audit within the first 12 months of receiving your USDOT number.

Benefits of Securing an MC Number

  1. Compliance: The most apparent benefit is that you’ll operate within the bounds of the law, avoiding potential fines or legal complications.
  2. Business Opportunities: Many shippers, brokers, and clients prefer (or require) to work with entities possessing an MC number, ensuring credibility and reliability.
  3. Clear Operational Authority: With an MC number, your operational scope is clearly defined, outlining what you can transport and the services you can provide.

Renewal and Maintenance

Keep in mind that an MC number is not a one-time affair. Carriers need to ensure their insurance is always up-to-date. If there are any changes in your company’s status, address, or other pertinent details, it’s essential to update the FMCSA.

Obtaining an MC number might seem like a daunting process, but with clear understanding and preparation, it’s a manageable feat. It’s not just a regulatory requirement but a symbol of your commitment to professionalism and adherence to standards in the transportation industry. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur in the logistics sector or a seasoned professional looking to expand, having your MC number in place paves the way for a smoother, more credible journey.