Trucking companies that operate commercial vehicles hauling cargo or passengers must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and have a US Department of Transportation (USDOT) number attached to the sides of their trucks.
What is an MCS-150 Form?
The USDOT number is a unique identifier that allows for collecting and monitoring a company’s safety information. This information is provided during audits, inspections, compliance reviews, and crash investigations.
The information associated with the USDOT number must be updated every two years. The update can be done using an updated Motor Carrier Identification Report called an MCS-150 form. This form allows the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to gather updated information and create a score based on compliance, safety, and accountability.
The MCS-150 biennial update ensures that information about your company is updated, including the miles driven, any additions to your fleet, and related safety information. The FMCSA requires that trucking company owners submit an update every two years, but when the update is due may vary.
You can determine when to submit your updated MCS-150 by looking at your USDOT number. The last two digits of the number tell you when you must file. The last digit represents your filing month, and the number before the last is your year of filing. The last digit and corresponding months are:
This data tells you the month in which your updated MCS-150 form is due, and the year is determined by the number right before it. You must update your form every odd year if this number is odd. If it is even, then your updated MCS-150 is due in even years.
Who is Required to Provide an MCS-150 Biennial Update?
Companies operating commercial vehicles for interstate operations by transporting passengers or hauling cargo must be registered with the FMCSA and have a USDOT number. You must have this number and update your information using the MCS-150 form if your vehicle is used to transport the types and quantities of hazardous materials requiring a safety permit in intrastate commerce.
In addition to this provision, companies must file an updated MCS-150 if they meet the following conditions and are involved in interstate commerce:
- Have a gross vehicle rating or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more.
- Have a vehicle designed to transport eight or more individuals.
(This is the minimum criteria to be required to get a DOT number, so even if this is your first time filing, you will need to complete a DOT update)
Interstate operations can be defined as trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States:
- Between a place in a state and a place outside of the state, including locations outside of the US.
- Between two places in a state when the route intersects another state or location outside the United States.
- Between two places in a state as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the state or the United States.
How Do I Submit an MCS-150 Biennial Update?
Filing an MCS-150 update can be done in several ways. No matter your method of submission, it is free, provided you have the time to complete it yourself. You need four things to complete the process: your DOT number, your DOT pin number, the company’s EIN or owner’s SSN, and the company’s information.
The best method for updating a USDOT number is to use the online web form found at the FMCSA Online Registration System. You may print the instructions beforehand to streamline the process. Once the form is submitted, the USDOT number is immediately updated, and you can print the updated MCS-150 report for your records.
You can also complete a hard copy of the MCS-150 and submit it to the FMCSA by mail or fax. Mailed applications may take between four and six weeks to process.
What Happens if I Forget to File an Updated MCS-150?
Having an updated Motor Carrier Identification Report filed ensures the FMCSA has accurate information about your company. If you fail to maintain compliance, you could jeopardize your USDOT number. And losing this number means you cannot legally haul freight, completely halting your trucking company’s operations. You can also face penalties of up to $10,000, a hefty fee for small trucking companies with narrow profit margins.
Filing an updated MCS-150 is a relatively straightforward process as long as you can provide accurate information. Unfortunately, even small errors can result in having your MCS-150 rejected. For this reason, some trucking company owners prefer to contract this task to a third-party company that can handle all aspects of filing an updated MCS-150.