Being a trucker means dealing with a lot of confusing regulations. A lot of these regulations are things that you have to deal with before you ever sit behind the wheel. This includes your motor carrier authority, which allows you to legally drive a truck all over the U.S. How do you get and maintain this authority to operate? We’ll tell you all you need to know to be a legally compliant trucker!
The first step to getting a motor carrier authority is to form (or join) a business.
In order to apply for your authority, you need to have an IRS Tax ID number. You can get this by forming your own business entity and becoming an owner-operator, or you can find employment with an established company. Getting recognized by the IRS allows you to apply for all of the filings that you’ll need.
Then, you need to complete the necessary filings.
Every trucker’s exact situation is different, so the exact filings you’ll need to complete will vary. However, there are some things that every trucker, no matter who they are, will need. We’ll detail those filings here, as well as the ones that you may need to consider.
Every trucker needs a USDOT number to operate on American roads. These numbers help the federal government keep a record of all carriers and their safety records. You’ll also need to get truck insurance, as the government needs a guarantee that you’ll do your part if an accident occurs. Technically, this is all you’d need to drive a truck intrastate in the U.S.
You may also need…
While the above is all you could need, there is plenty more to consider. For example, most truckers operate on an interstate basis. Interstate truckers also need to get an MC number and register with UCR to operate legally. They’ll need to get themselves a BOC-3 form, too, as this allows the government to contact them easily. Finally, if your truck weighs more than 55,000 lbs., you’ll need to file your 2290 form as well. This allows you to pay a necessary tax to the IRS for your extra-heavy vehicle.
Make sure to maintain your motor carrier authority over time!
Once you get your authority, you can operate legally in the U.S. for a while. However, you’ll need to make sure that you maintain your motor carrier authority over time. This means doing things like checking in with your insurance company to ensure you’re still covered. It also means filing your biennial update every two years. You need to maintain your authority over time to prove to the government that you’re paying attention. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it to have the freedom of hauling all over the U.S.!