Starting a Trucking Business? How to Get Your Operating Authority

If you are starting a trucking company, an “MC” number is your authority to operate. There are also “FF” and “MX” numbers depending on the type of trucking business you hope to run and the kinds of authority you need to do so.

These numbers, known as proof of Operating Authority, are required by law for certain trucking companies and dictate the type of operation a company may run and the cargo it may carry. These numbers are regulated by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration and the United States Department of Transportation and only apply to carriers shipping federally regulated commodities. If your trucking company ships federally regulated commodities or transports goods across state lines, you very likely will need to obtain an Operating Authority number in order to stay legal.

There are also a variety of trucking companies that do not need to worry about obtaining a federally approved Operating Authority. Trucking companies that do not need an Operating Authority number include private carriers that transport their own cargo, for-hire carriers that exclusively haul commodities that are exempt from federal regulation, and carriers that operate exclusively within a federally designated “commercial zone” that is exempt from interstate authority rules.

Knowing whether your trucking company needs an Operating Authority is important because it determines the type and level of insurance you will have to obtain. The FMCSA does not refund applications so be sure to only apply for the Operating Authority that is relevant to the type of business you run.

Trucking companies that definitely need to apply for Operating Authority include for-hire carriers that charge for their service, carriers that transport passengers in interstate commerce, and carriers that transport federally regulated commodities or arrange for their transport in interstate commerce. These types of carriers will need to obtain an FMCSA Operating Authority number as well as a DOT number.

Applying for Operating Authority can be time consuming and there are no refunds so be sure to establish the type of trucking business you are going to run before you apply.