Everything You Need to Know About ​​MCS-150

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when you first start out as a carrier or independent owner-operator, you’ll need to take the proper steps to get your operating authority.

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That means obtaining your CDL, preparing your finances, and, very importantly, complying with federal and state regulations.

One such regulation is receiving a USDOT number, which the U.S. Department of Transportation requires all carriers to have. This gives each carrier a unique identification number that is then used to collect essential safety and financial information about their trucking business. While you only need to get that number once, managing your USDOT number is a long-term endeavor. The FMCSA requires that all carriers submit an updated Motor Carrier Information Report, otherwise known as an MCS-150, every other year in order to remain in good standing.

Staying on top of your MCS-150 update is one of the most important responsibilities for a carrier or owner-operator who wishes to keep their operating authority and continue hauling loads without an issue. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly the MCS-150 is, why it’s important for carriers, how to get MCS-150, and how you can make the process of updating this form for the MCS-150 biennial update simple and painless.

What is an MCS-150 update?

The MCS-150 is a form required by the FMCSA to either obtain or renew your USDOT number. A carrier’s DOT number is an essential part of maintaining your operating authority. It is issued by the Department of Transportation to collect data on your trucking business for safety purposes.

When you file your MCS-150 report, the FMCSA then uses your business information to calculate a safety score through its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. The FMCSA collects data from state-reported crashes, roadside inspections, and investigation results and assigns any relevant information to a carrier’s DOT number. The FMCSA then uses this data, as well as the information you include when you file your MCS-150, to analyze your overall safety performance.

The CSA program features seven Behavior Analysis & Safety Improvement Categories, otherwise known as BASICS, that they use to determine how a motor carrier ranks relative to other carriers with a similar number of safety events. These BASICS consist of:

  • Unsafe Driving: This measures driver violations like speeding, texting, reckless driving, improper lane changes, and more.
  • Driver Fitness: This measures driver qualifications by referring to records like CDLs, medical certificates, employment applications, and others.
  • Hours-of-Service Compliance: This measures how carriers adhere to the FMCSA’s Hours-of-Service regulations, which limit how many hours carriers can spend on the road. This BASIC requires documents such as RODS, bills of lading, freight bills, dispatch records, and more.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: This BASIC covers how carriers maintain their vehicles, and includes roadside inspection reports, Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs), equipment repair receipts, evidence of driver training on load securement, and other documents.
  • Controlled Substances: This looks at whether carriers have operated commercial motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It includes compliance materials like verified controlled substance test results, any documentation of refusals to take alcohol or controlled substance tests, and driver evaluations and referrals.
  • Crash Indicator: This analyzes your history of previously reported accidents and crashes. It requires documents like carrier data from the Accident Register and accident reports filed by State or other government entities/insurers.
  • Hazardous Materials Compliance: This looks at how hazmat carriers and owner-operators comply with health and safety regulations. It requires records such as HM incident reports, shipping papers, manifests, evidence of HM training, and much more.

While it’s obviously important for the FMCSA to collect this information for general road safety, it’s also critical because one of the FMCSA’s main responsibilities is to monitor and enforce compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) overseeing both safety and financial responsibility for the trucking industry. Collecting information on carriers through the MCS-150 and the other documentation described above is essential in order to accomplish that, which is why it’s vital that carriers and owner-operators report their business information accurately and that they complete their MCS-150 updates on time.

A carrier’s MCS-150 biennial update allows the FMCSA to verify that the information they have on the trucking business is correct and up to date. Because the information is so critical, the FMCSA also requires that carriers make updates to their MCS-150 forms any time business details change, such as if the business changes its name or if it adds more trucks to the fleet, even if those changes occur between regular MCS-150 updates.

Why it’s important to file your MCS-150 on time

According to FMCSA, the main reason why carriers fall out of compliance with MCS-150 registration is simply failing to complete their renewal by the biennial deadline. But why exactly is that such a disaster and why is it important to file your MCS-150 update on time?

Naturally, the FMCSA takes the MCS-150 update very seriously since it’s a matter of safety and financial wellbeing for businesses themselves as well as for the industry as a whole and for everyone else on the road. Because of this importance, failure to file your MCS-150 can lead to major consequences for your trucking business, including the deactivation of your USDOT number and fines of up to $1,000 a day. Without their DOT number, carriers won’t be able to maintain their operating authority and won’t be able to run their business properly, or, more likely, at all.

When do you need to complete your MCS-150 biennial update?

While carriers and owner-operators should already know that they need to perform their MCS-150 update once every other year, that doesn’t mean they know what the exact deadline for completing the MCS-150 update is. That’s because there’s no single deadline; it varies from carrier to carrier. Luckily, there’s a relatively simple way to determine what your deadline is.

Carriers can find out when their specific MCS-150 deadline is by looking at the last two digits of their USDOT number.

The second-to-last digit represents what year the carrier will be required to renew their MCS-150. If it’s an odd number, they are required to renew in years ending with an odd number. If that second-to-last digit is an even number, they will have to renew in years ending with even numbers. That means that, for example, if the second-to-last digit in a USDOT number is a two, that carrier should prepare to renew during even-numbered years (2022, 2024, and so on).

To determine the month you need to complete your MCS-150 update by, look at the last digit of your DOT number. Deadlines range from from January to October with each number representing a specific. So if a carrier’s DOT number ends with a five, that means that they must file their MCS-150 in May. Carriers will have until the end of their assigned month to file.

What are the MCS-150 requirements?

Since the FMCSA requires a lot of information to enforce safety regulations, meeting MCS-150 requirements means carriers need to keep records of every aspect of their business. That includes information like the number of drivers and trucks your business has, miles traveled the previous year, insurance information, and much more. Some more information you need to include in your MCS-150 update is your:

  • Legal business name
  • USDOT Number
  • MC Number
  • Carrier mileage
  • Type of company operations (Interstate vs. intrastate, hazardous vs. nonhazardous materials)
  • Type of operation (Carrier, shipper, broker, freight forwarder, etc.)
  • Cargo classification
  • Number of vehicles
  • Driver information

At this point, you might be wondering, “How do I get my MCS-150 update? And how do I check my MCS-150 status?” The process of actually filing your MCS-150 is fairly straightforward, though you have a couple options.

The best way to file is online, which you can do through the FMCSA Online Registration System. Once you fill out the form and submit it, your USDOT number is automatically updated, and as long as all the information is correct, you can go right back to hauling loads. Alternatively, you can paper file your MCS-150 update by mail, fax, or web form. However, this can take four to six weeks to process.

Get your MCS-150 in order with DAT Authority

While filing your MCS-150 biennial update is an essential part of running a trucking business, it can be a challenge if you aren’t prepared. Often carriers and owner-operators need help managing their backend to ensure that they have everything they need to fill out their MCS-150 form when the time comes for an update.

Luckily, you don’t have to navigate the process alone. DAT Authority can take care of the heavy lifting for you. For carriers just starting out or owner-operators who are looking to become independent, we make sure that all the paperwork is taken care of and that permitting is handled correctly from the start, so you can throw any worries about your DOT number or your MCS-150 out the window.

Breeze through the paperwork with DAT Authority!

Paperwork is a time-consuming, confusing part of running a trucking company — but it’s also 100% necessary. However, you don’t have to do it alone!
DAT Authority is ready to step in and take the weight off your shoulders when it comes to paperwork. Get started with DAT Authority today!

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  • Includes all federal fees
  • MC / DOT number
  • BOC 3 process agents






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Reach out by calling 800.551.8847

Reach out by calling 800.551.8847

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