New Entrant Process

October 18, 2023

Driver in Truck

Becoming a new carrier is not as simple as requesting a USDOT number and beginning operations. There is well defined process that must be followed. The necessary steps are aptly named by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as “The New Entrant Process.” To be successful through the process the new carrier must demonstrate compliance and pass a final exam in the form of an audit.

Every new motor carrier whether private, for-hire, or exempt wanting to operate in interstate commerce must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and receive a USDOT number. Additionally, most states require their instate only carriers to obtain a USDOT number.

Non-exempt for-hire motor carriers must also obtain operating authority from FMCSA unless providing transportation exempt from the registration requirements.

After being issued a new entrant registration, the new carrier is subject to an 18-month safety-monitoring period. During this period, the carrier’s roadside safety performance will be closely monitored to ensure the carrier’s basic safety management controls are operating effectively. Sometime during this safety-monitoring period, the motor carrier will receive a safety audit. The audit generally occurs after the carrier has been operating for a sufficient length of time so required records can be obtained and retained and over the road inspection data can indicate how safely the carrier is operating.

However, the carrier may be subjected to an expedited safety audit or compliance review if any of seven specific violations are discovered during a roadside inspection or by any other means. The violations include, but are not limited to:

  • Using a driver who does not possess a valid commercial driver's license,
  • Operating a vehicle placed out of service,
  • Being involved in certain hazardous materials reportable incidents, and
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle without appropriate levels of financial responsibility.

The entire list of violations may be found in 49 CFR 385.308.

The safety audit will be conducted by a state or federal auditor who will review the carrier's safety management system. The areas of review include the following:

  • Driver qualification;
  • Driver duty status;
  • Vehicle maintenance;
  • Accident register; and
  • Controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements.

If the agency determines the new entrant has adequate basic safety management controls, the new entrant will be notified and will continue to be monitored for the remainder of the 18-month safety-monitoring period.

If FMCSA determines the new entrant does not have adequate basic safety management controls, the new entrant will be notified that its new entrant registration will be revoked, and its operations placed out of service unless the new entrant takes specific actions to remedy its safety practices.