What is Trucking Authority?

Trucking authority - sometimes called operating authority or motor carrier authority - means that you have permission from the government to get paid to haul freight. Starting your own trucking company means getting your own authority, and that could mean dealing with as many as 8 different government agencies. That's a lot of headache just to get your own MC number.

Freight brokers are also required to have operating authority, so if you're looking to start a new brokerage or add one to your current carrier operations, then you'll need to apply for an FF number, or freight forwarder number. (The FMCSA, which regulates the trucking industry, plans to eventually eliminate the need for MC and FF numbers, and instead identify companies just by their DOT numbers from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Carriers also need to register for IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) and IRP (International Registration Plan) before doing any interstate business. You might also to apply for state permits, depending on where you plan to do business.

Or you can let us take care of the whole thing for you. We'll do all of the paperwork, and we'll get your business moving as soon as possible. No need to worry about whether or not you're filling out the right forms or missing a step. 

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How Much Does Operating Authority Cost?

The cost for getting your own authority can vary depending on the state. Our experts can handle any authority application for you, whether it's carrier authority or broker authority, or both. Packages for carrier authority start at $549, while broker packages start at $685.

Download our authority product sheet

How Long Does It Take to Get Operating Authority?

It takes about 5 to 7 weeks to complete your MC authority, including federal and state. Here is a summary of the requirements:

Federal – Approximately 16 business days to complete

  • MC Number – Issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Motor Carrier (MC) Number is what constitutes authority to cross state lines for hire as a motor carrier. All companies transporting freight for hire are required to obtain an MC Number. 
  • USDOT Number – Issued by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), the USDOT Number is the main tracking number for your trucking company. The USDOT number registers the number of trucks, drivers, and the safety rating of your company. A USDOT NUMBER DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AUTHORITY.
  • BOC 3 Process Agents – Process agents are people designated in each state that can accept legal documents on your behalf and then return them to you in your home state. BOC 3 process agents are required for federal authority.
  • Insurance – A carrier must obtain liability and cargo insurance. It is recommended that you obtain a $1,000,000 liability policy and a $100,000 cargo policy. You will need to obtain insurance within the first two weeks after the MC number is filed to avoid any delays in your authority processing.


  • UCRA – The Unified Carrier Registration Agreement states that all motor carriers, regulated, exempt, private, interstate brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies are subject to fees under the UCRA. Fees are calculated per company, based on the number of commercial motor vehicles it operates. (Commercial motor vehicles include the number of trucks and/or power units operated by the company).
  • IFTA – The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) is for trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight over 26,000 lbs operating interstate for-hire or interstate private. All 48 states and the Provinces of Canada participate in the IFTA program. Once registered, there will be quarterly tax filings due. You are required to keep track of the mileage traveled in each state and all of your fuel purchases. Some states charge a small, one-time registration fee to get started.
  • IRP – The International Registration Plan (IRP) is for trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight over 26,000 lbs operating interstate for-hire or interstate private. All 48 states and the Provinces of Canada participate in the IRP Program. The IRP covers the apportioned tags for the truck. There is a yearly fee to register and operate your truck in each state or province. The cost depends on the miles you run in each state or province, and the average cost ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 per year.
  • Simple Permits: New York, New Mexico, Kentucky & Oregon – These states require an extra permit to operate within their borders. Once you register, you'll also have tax filings due, based on miles traveled in each of these states.

For more information on our DAT Authority packages email us or call us at 800.547.5417.

Download the DAT Authority Product Sheet

Want to Start Your
Own Trucking Business?

DAT's Carrier Start-up Guide walks you through the steps 

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