How to Get an Interstate Operating Authority

This is the process, in a nutshell:

•    Decide on a name for your company.
•    Decide on an entity for your company.
•    Get a federal tax ID number, or EIN.
•    If you decide to incorporate or form a LLC, file the necessary paperwork with your Secretary of State office.

(1) Make sure you are insurable. Get a few quotes for trucking liability & cargo insurance from trucking insurance agents. Rates will vary greatly, depending on CDL time, driving record, and experience. So you can not rely on figures provided by others. Progressive Commercial is a good place to start. Call them at 800-444-4487 & get a quote. If you don’t have a truck yet, you will need information about the truck & trailer that you plan to insure.  The cost for $1 million liability, $100K cargo, and physical damage coverage on the truck & trailer can range from $2000-$4500 down, with monthly payments of $700-$2400. It all depends on age of CDL, experience, driving record, truck & trailer, credit history, and other factors. One person’s quote is not a rule of thumb for the next person. Get your own quote.

(2) Get a truck.

(3) Apply for operating authority on the FMCSA website. Pay the $300 fee. DOT & MC numbers are issued at that time. When you finish the application process & pay the fee, you will have DOT & MC numbers, but you will NOT have an operating authority. Your application will be pending, awaiting other items to be received. You cannot run loads until the operating authority is granted. The average time that it takes for the FMCSA to grant operating authority is 21 days.

(4) Get insurance. You have 20 days to do so. You should have already gotten the quotes & be ready to start the policy. Have the insurance company do the appropriate filings with the FMCSA. After insurance is bound, the filings can be done and seen on the FMCSA site in 24 hours.

(5) Get a process agent. Have them do the appropriate filing with the FMCSA. The cost is $25-$100, depending on who you use. The process server can upload the BOC-3 in a few minutes to a few hours, and can be seen on the FMCSA site immediately. Some process agents can notify you and send you a PDF version of your authority the day it is approved, for an additional charge. This will enable you to start moving freight immediately, instead of waiting on the authority to arrive in the mail.

(6) FMCSA posts your application to the Federal Register, and there is a 10 day objection period. Wait. While you’re waiting:

(7) Get base plates for IRP/IFTA. Average of $1500-$2000 for initial base plates. You may have to pay HVUT (Heavy Vehicle Use Tax) first, depending on how long you’ve had your truck. That cost is $550 & you must show the receipt in order to get base plates. You can file form 2290 and pay HVUT online & get a receipt immediately. The process to get IRP & IFTA accounts must be done in person at your local IRP office, and it can be completed in 1 day. Be sure to call ahead or check online to get a list of documents that you must take with you.

(8) Get additional weight-mile permits for the states of KY, NY, NM, and OR if you plan to operate in those states. Those can be obtained online. They are either free or less than $10 each.

(9) Set up mandatory drug testing. OOIDA & other organizations can help you with this. Search online for drug testing consortiums. The cost is $100-$200.

(10) FMCSA MAY schedule a site safety audit.  You will be given a safety rating of Satisfactory, Conditional, or Unacceptable on the day of the audit.

(11) 1-3 weeks after the audit (if there is one), if your rating is Satisfactory, FMCSA notifies you of approval.

(12) Receive your operating authority in the mail.

The entire process takes 3-6 weeks. IT CAN BE DONE WITHOUT THE ASSISTANCE OF ANY 3RD PARTY WHO WILL CHARGE YOU TO DO SO. There are lots of companies out there who will try to convince you that the process is difficult, that you can’t do it yourself, and that you need their services, for a fee. Most people can do the entire thing themselves. I’ve been through the entire process 6 times since 2007. Once for my own authority, 5 times for others.

Also, beware of 3rd party companies who will hold your DOT & MC pins hostage. These pins are issued by the FMCSA, when DOT & MC numbers are issued. The pins are needed to make changes & required biennial updates.

Many 3rd party services will charge you to make these changes that you can do FOR FREE, and they will not release your pins to you. They know that getting the pins directly from the FMCSA takes 7-10 business days. They use that fact to entice you to allow them to make the changes & updates – for a fee.

I’ll leave this here: if anyone is serious & wants to go that route, I can help you through the entire process. I don’t want your money. I’ll help you in any way with what I know. Perhaps you’ll return the favor to me one day.

10 thoughts on “How to Get an Interstate Operating Authority

  1. Robert Taylor says:

    Hi thanks for the information. My contract with a carrier was recently terminated because of a preventable accident. So I’m looking into becoming a motor carrier. One question what do you mean by entity?

    • 1girl1truck says:

      Hi Robert,

      The entity that I referred to is the business structure that you choose for your company. Your choices are sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation.

      I should have made that more clear, and your comments will help me to improve my article for others. Let me know if you have further questions.

  2. Doreen says:

    I finally stop by your blog. You have a lot of helpful information here. Thanks for the willingness to help those of us that are clueless or confused, but really need the facts on how to proceed in this process. Thanks again!

    • 1girl1truck says:

      Hi Doreen,

      Thank you for stopping by. I have actually missed tons of good messages because of the spammers, who post thousands of useless comments. You are very welcome for any helpful information that I can provide.

  3. William Naler says:

    Looks like I’ll need a lot more money than I have right now but this is something I definitely want to do. After the I want to before me a broker.

  4. Sherman Chandsawangbh says:

    Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog based on the same topics you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

    • 1girl1truck says:

      Hi Sherman,

      I have provided input on other blogs and podcasts that I’ve been invited to. I intend to do more, as well as expand on my own platforms. I will contact you for further discussion.

  5. Dave says:

    Hi Sharron.
    This is Dave D.
    You certainly sound like you know your stuff and I would be grateful for your help.
    You say you don’t want any money, but I would be more than willing to pay you.
    Here is my problem.
    I have a non CDL DUI in my personal car.
    My CDL had lapsed, which was fine as I was taking care of a death in the family, etc.
    I have a feeling my insurance may be sky high and understandably so.
    My four years with Schneider as a company driver were stellar, I left on good terms, no accidents, and one minor speeding ticket over four years ago and good for rehire, until I got my DUI.
    I feel my only choice is to go owner operator with my own Authority and use the DAT load board.
    I can buy truck with cash as I inherited a house and sold mine.
    What do you think?

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