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  • Henry Seaton

FMCSA delays URS implementation

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a revised final rule on the Unified Registration System (URS) that revises the program’s implementation schedule. FMCSA is phasing in URS by requiring applicants for new operating authority to file electronically at using the new form MCSA-1 beginning Dec. 12, 2015, but no other changes will occur until Sept. 30, 2016.

URS had been scheduled to take effect Oct. 23, 2015, but FMCSA said it needed more time to ensure information systems are in place and to ensure that industry stakeholders were fully prepared. Among FMCSA’s goals with URS is consolidating its registration, licensing and insurance processes into one process to make it easier to monitor carriers' compliance and to catch so-called "cameleon carriers" that try to skirt out-of-service orders and penalties by reincarnating. One tool for doing this is the elimination of MC and FF numbers for tracking carriers and using USDOT numbers exclusively.

Other than requiring new applicants to file online, URS does not affect any carriers until Sept. 30, 2016. In the interim, carriers filing biennal updates will continue to file the MCS-150 using whatever method they use today. FMCSA will continue issuing MC and FF numbers, and the fee structure remains the same.

FMCSA has made detailed materials available at, but below is a summary of how URS would affect certain groups of motor carriers.

Existing authorized for-hire carriers URS has very little effect on existing authorized for-hire carriers. Beginning on Sept. 30, 2016, existing authorized for-hire carriers will have to file their biennial updates using the new MCSA-1 form rather than today's MCS-150 and file biennial updates online exclusively. They also will have to file within 30 days when they change their name, address or form of business.

Existing private carriers and exempt for-hire carriers As with authorized for-hire carriers, nothing changes until Sept. 30, 2016. And like authorized carriers, existing private and exempt carriers will then need to file biennial updates electronically using the new MCSA-1. In addition, private and exempt carriers are subject to the following new requirements as of Sept. 30:

  • All private and exempt carriers must file BOC-3 designating agents for service of process, although they have a grace period until Dec. 31, 2016 to do so.

  • All exempt carriers and all private carriers hauling hazardous materials must file evidence of financial responsibility (insurance), although, again, they have a grace period until Dec. 31, 2016 to do so.

New entrant applicants For new entrant applicants, there's an interim period of partial URS implementation until full implementation on Sept. 30, 2016

Dec. 12, 2015-Sept. 29, 2016 All new applicants for a DOT number must file online using the MCSA-1 (or rather an online interface that collects the same info) under existing regulations. They will file at

Nothing else changes during the interim period. Fees stay the same. FMCSA will continue to issue MC and FF numbers. New private and exempt carriers will not be required to file BOC-3 or evidence of insurance. All existing carriers filing biennial updates will do so using the MCS-150 in whatever format they choose.

Sept. 30, 2016 Compared to the interim period, the major changes for new entrants are:

  • For entities subject to FMCSA safety regulation there will be a new $300 fee just to activate the DOT number that is separate from the fee for operating authority. So where a new for-hire carrier today and through Sept. 29, 2016 must pay FMCSA $300 for operating authority, a new entity on Sept. 30, 2016, would have to pay FMCSA $600 for the DOT number and operating authority.

  • New private/private hazmat and exempt carriers are subject to the BOC-3 and insurance filing requirements

  • FMCSA will no longer issue MC or FF numbers. The USDOT number becomes the sole "tracking number" for the agency.

Avoid legal pitfalls

Rules of the Road offers practical help on avoiding legal pitfalls in working with customers, independent contractors, insurers, factoring companies, etc.

Many serious legal risks will go unnoticed unless you are watching for them. Don't take chances.

 Although successful food haulers already employ the common sense steps required in FDA's new transportation rule, declaring your compliance can help you stay competitive for spot-market freight. 

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