Owning a trucking company can be a huge challenge. From navigating congested highways and unpredictable weather conditions to maintaining control over a massive vehicle while driving safely, the physical demands of driving a commercial truck can take their toll. Additionally, long hours on the road can lead to driver fatigue, impairing a driver's ability to maintain the proper focus. The daily challenges faced by an owner operator can become overwhelming, especially when compounded by the burdensome responsibilities of maintaining your trucking authority and compliance.
What is the Trucking Authority?
Trucking authority permits a trucking company to transport goods and provide services across state lines. It is an essential part of running a compliant and successful trucking company. A failure to have authority - or the proper trucking authority - can result in huge fines, penalties, and even restrictions on your ability to operate.
At a minimum, trucking authority is comprised of two things - a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number and a motor carrier (MC) number. However, in actuality, to legally operate a commercial vehicle, you must also pay multiple taxes, sign up for permits and licenses, and usually pay state and federal fees, which can add up to thousands of dollars.
And while the exact requirements for legal operation may vary depending upon your location, company type, and materials you intend to haul, you must have trucking authority to start a trucking company, become an owner-operator, or become a broker. In addition to obtaining the proper authority, your company must have a BOC-3 process agent filing and ensure your business passes a new entrant safety audit.
How Do You Get Trucking Authority?
The USDOT and operating authority are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). There are different types of motor carrier operating authority, and selecting the right one will depend upon the type of cargo you intend to carry. Additionally, some carriers will need multiple authorities if they intend to operate within multiple categories.
Before you can even apply for your trucking authority, you must have other elements in place, such as:
- Business Registration in your home state
- Business structure and/or a business plan
- An Employee Identification Number (EIN)
Additional requirements for legal operation will be based upon your GVW or intended operations. And determining the right things you need and getting your paperwork in order can be a huge challenge, especially for many small business owner-operators. For this reason, many of these companies consider outsourcing trucking authority services, which can provide many benefits.
The Benefits of Outsourcing Trucking Authority Services
An independent trucking business may want to outsource trucking authority services for many reasons. The primary benefits of this type of arrangement include:
You can focus on running your business.
If you own or are thinking of starting a trucking company, you know that it takes a ton of work. There are many aspects of running the business, and overseeing all of the details can be a tremendous challenge. Unfortunately, obtaining and maintaining trucking authority can also be incredibly confusing for new business owners. When you outsource trucking authority services, it’s one less thing you have to worry about as a business owner. And this frees up your time to focus on other aspects of your business, such as marketing, growing your client base, and delivering better customer service. In many instances, outsourcing these services can result in smoother processes for the rest of your business operations.
You can get it done right the first time.
Because there are so many aspects of obtaining trucking authority - and so much paperwork - it’s fairly easy to forget a form or select the wrong type of authority. Unfortunately, these small errors can set you back, both financially and with time. If you have to resubmit an application, you will likely have to pay additional fees, and getting the proper operating authority will take longer. The average processing time for trucking authority is between twenty and twenty-five business days, so an error can set you back for a while. When every day of downtime costs, you likely can’t afford any delays. Outsourcing trucking authority services is one of the best ways to ensure your operating authority application is completed correctly and all registration requirements are met the first time you submit it. And this benefit saves you money and gets your business to work more quickly.
You can rest assured that you are compliant.
There is no doubt that obtaining trucking authority can be confusing. You need the right type of authority. And many carriers also need multiple authorities. A failure to obtain the proper authority may be a genuine mistake on your part since it can be easy to misinterpret the requirements. But even an honest mistake can cost you big. Failure to obtain and maintain the right authority puts your company at risk of fines and penalties, or even of having your operations shut down by the DOT. Most independent trucking businesses operate with very narrow profit margins, so fines and downtime can quickly eat away at your already-slim profit margins. When you outsource trucking authority services with a third-party provider, you can rest assured that you are partnering with someone who understands the regulations and FMCSA requirements, which means your company will be legally operating without risk of non-compliance.
You can earn a reputation as an industry leader.
When you outsource trucking authority services, you demonstrate that your business is committed to compliance, safety, and efficiency. You are ensuring you have all the necessary elements for legal operations that prioritize safety. Also, it gives your customers peace of mind by making sure that your trucking company won't be abruptly shut down while transporting their cargo due to noncompliance. And these tenets are at the heart of building a reputation as a reliable trucking company and industry leader. And as more businesses want to partner with reputable companies, this is one of the best ways to gain an advantage over the competition and set your business up for long-term success.
Finding the right trucking authority service provider is critical for ensuring you follow the right steps without making costly mistakes or errors. An experienced partner can help you navigate this challenging and confusing process. They can ensure you have the necessary documents and that your application is completed properly and completely. And that can benefit your company in many ways, leading to short- and long-term success.