Rick Malchow, Industry Business Advisor
July 15, 2021
A private intrastate company with a large box truck receives a plea to move some items for a related company across the state line. This is no freebie; the move will pay handsomely and the truck can be made available. “Should be no problem,” states the owner, “I just need to get some permits for the move.” Simple enough, or is it? Making some calls, the owner finds several problems that will likely cause the potential revenue opportunity to evaporate like a puddle in the summer heat.
This move is straight forward. The driver, truck, and load are crossing a state line – the move is an interstate move. The company may have a USDOT number because the state requires one for their intrastate carriers, but a USDOT number itself does not allow for interstate travel. The company needs to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as an interstate carrier. If the company already has a USDOT number, an updated MCS-150 needs to be submitted to the FMCSA indicating that the company operation is interstate. If the carrier does not have a USDOT number, the form MCSA-1 will need to be submitted. Either way, no major delay will result, but the carrier will be subject to a new entrant audit. There are no permits that allow an entity that is not registered with the FMCSA as an interstate carrier to have any part of an interstate movement.
As noted, the company is a private carrier. Even if the entity has some sort of state authority, to operate as a for-hire carrier in interstate commerce, authority must be requested and granted be the FMCSA. For-hire authority is often referred to as a motor carrier or MC number. The process to obtain authority is much longer than that to receive a USDOT number. The company will need to apply for the authority. To have for-hire authority, a carrier also needs to designate process agents and demonstrate financial responsibility. Like FMCSA registration, there are no trip permits for authority.
Private property carriers, for-hire passenger, property, and exempt commodity carriers, freight forwarders, leasing companies, and brokers engaged in interstate commerce are subject to annual UCR registration. Each entity must submit an annual filing and be registered before operating in interstate commerce. UCR fees are based on the number of vehicles engaged in interstate commerce. Like the interstate USDOT number and for-hire authority, there are no trip permits to cover UCR fees.
When operating intrastate, the issues of vehicle registration and fuel tax are easily addressed. The vehicles are typically registered annually and receive a state tag, the fuel tax is paid at the pumps. No reports to complete and no records to retain. This is not the case when traveling interstate. There is too much state revenue at stake and any state traveled wants to ensure that “they get theirs.” Most companies that regularly engage in interstate transportation and that have qualifying vehicles participate in the International Registration Plan (IRP) plus the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). There are trip permits available that cover fuel tax and registration fees on a trip by trip basis. Of course, there is no credit provided by the home state; so, if a vehicle travels out of state more than 5 times a year, the entity may want to consider permanent credentials.
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