What is a UCR & Who Needs It?
The Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) is a federally-mandated, state tax on interstate freight. The DOT reports that the fees collected from the UCR program are directed toward the hiring and training of DOT officials.
The UCR expires at the end of every calendar year and is due for renewal each January. The UCR board typically opens the UCR up for renewal in October, so any carrier who wishes to do so can renew the UCR early.
Each year the UCR board meets to set fees for the following year. The fees vary from year to year but typically only change slightly. The fee tiers are as follows (estimated): The state fee is $62 for 0-2 trucks, $185 for 3-5 trucks, $368 for 6-20 trucks and $1,283 for 21 -100 trucks. There are additional fee tiers for fleets with over 100 trucks.
Fees paid to the UCR are not prorated. Even if you receive your authority toward the end of the calendar year, you will be required to file a UCR for the current year for full price and then renew it again for the following year for full price.
Almost any carrier required to have a DOT Number is also required to have a UCR. All freight brokers are also required to have a UCR. Even though the UCR is specifically designed as a tax on interstate freight, the definition of interstate freight is sufficiently broad that most intrastate carriers fall into the definition as well.
For example, if the freight an intrastate carrier is hauling has crossed state lines previous to being hauled by the carrier, or will in the future cross state lines once it has been delivered by the carrier, it is considered interstate freight for the purposes of the UCR and that carrier must maintain a UCR in order to legally operate. The fine for driving with an expired or non-existent UCR is $1,200 per infraction. Since brokers are engaged in booking freight that is likely to be considered interstate, they are also required to file for a UCR annually at the 0-2 truck tier.
Some carrier types are exempted from UCR, however. The exceptions include agriculture operations, such as hauling hay or loose grain from field to storage location, or local hauling of dirt and aggregate. All other commercial vehicles must file and pay the fee each year.