Getting operating authority is typically a big step in starting a trucking company, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle! What’s the first step to getting trucking authority and how do you do it? Don’t fret, we’ll address what trucking authority is, how and where you get it, the things you must have in place to get an MC and DOT Number, and how the ITA Career Services Startup Program can do it for you.


Like many words in the trucking industry, motor carrier operating authority is used interchangeably with many other terms like; trucking authority, MC authority, DOT authority, MC Number, and USDOT Number. Most of the time, these terms are referring to the same thing.

So, what is operating authority? Operating authority is required for most carriers who transport passengers or freight in interstate commerce. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the government agency that regulates the trucking industry and grants active operating authority by issuing Motor Carrier (MC) and USDOT Numbers. MC and USDOT Numbers serve as unique identifiers for your trucking company and help the FMCSA conduct inspections, monitor your safety scores, maintain compliance reviews, and more.


Unfortunately, obtaining active operating authority is not very simple. In the Unified Registration System, where you apply for your MC and DOT Numbers, there are several different types of operating authority, and if you apply for the wrong one by mistake no refunds are given. It isn’t easy to fix those mistakes. The three main types of operating authority are motor carrier, broker, and freight forwarder authority. Depending on your type of operation or the cargo you carry you might need to have multiple operating authorities.


The process of applying for authority from the FMCSA is not straightforward and depends on whether you’ve applied before. Most applicants will register with the Unified Registration System (URS) online to obtain operating authority.


What comes first, insurance or starting a trucking company? While it might not be the funniest joke, this question often comes up with the trucking companies we help. Why? Because the FMCSA will not grant active operating authority until it has received proof of insurance. Getting insurance coverage for your trucking company can be challenging and confusing. But when you use the ITA Career Services Startup Program to help start your trucking company, we have the experience to point you in the right direction.

As you can see, getting trucking authority on your own isn’t always as easy as just submitting an application for an MC number or DOT Number. Our ITA Career Services Startup Program experts know exactly what needs to be done and can simplify the process for you!