Motor Carrier Search DOT Driver/Files Broker Authority DOT Authority Plates Licensing Products

The Basics of a Motor Carrier Number

Written by Nick Webster

Published on Feb. 9, 2024, 2:01 a.m.


Here is what a motor carrier number is:

  • A Motor Carrier Number (MC) is a unique number that identifies your business to the US Department of Transportation.
  • It is a prerequisite for motor carriers who wish to operate commercial vehicles in interstate commerce.
  • MC numbers are assigned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which falls under the umbrella of the United States Department of Transportation.
  • Once you have obtained an MC number, it must be listed on all documentation relating to the operation of your trucks or other commercial vehicles.
  • This includes registration forms, insurance documents, and other freight operations paperwork.
  • The MC number also allows you to access important safety information from FMCSA databases, such as Crash Reports and Inspection Reports.


If you're a business owner planning to operate a commercial motor vehicle in the United States, obtaining a Motor Carrier Authority (MC) Number is crucial. The MC number is issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to companies that engage in interstate commerce, signifying they have met the necessary regulatory and safety requirements. This comprehensive guide aims to provide a clear understanding of the basics of a Motor Carrier Number, its importance, and its acquisition process.

Understanding the Motor Carrier Number

An MC number, also known as an Operating Authority, is a unique identifier assigned by the FMCSA to for-hire carriers transporting regulated commodities across state lines. This number and the Look up USDOT Number form the foundation of the regulatory compliance required by the FMCSA.

Motor Carriers require an MC number if they transport passengers or cargo for hire, move federally regulated commodities, or operate commercial vehicles across state lines. While a USDOT number is mandatory for all commercial vehicles, the MC number is specific to certain types of operations.

Obtaining a Motor Carrier Number

Acquiring an MC number begins with an application submitted through the Unified Registration System (URS) on the FMCSA website. Read here about Starting a Trucking Company Correctly. The application process involves providing detailed company information, including the type of operation, cargo classification, and the nature of the business.

Once the FMCSA approves the application, the agency issues the MC number, which becomes active only after the carrier provides proof of insurance and the designated process agent for each state they operate in. Note that the MC number won't be in effect until these requirements are fulfilled, and the granted authority becomes active after a notice period.

Motor Carrier Number, Federal regulations, DOT registration, Transportation authority, Commercial vehicles.

Keeping Your Motor Carrier Number Active

Keeping your MC number active is as important as obtaining it. Failing to meet the regulatory requirements can lead to revocation or deactivation of your MC number. As per the information available up to September 2021, the following steps are necessary to maintain your active status:

  • Biennial Updates: Similar to the DOT number, carriers must update their information with FMCSA every two years, even if the business details remain the same or the company is no longer operating.
  • Insurance Requirements: Carriers must maintain a level of insurance that meets the FMCSA's minimum requirements.
  • BOC-3 Filing: A BOC-3 form (Designation of Process Agent form) must be on file with FMCSA, listing a process agent in every state where the carrier operates.
  • Compliance with Safety Regulations: Following safety regulations and maintaining a satisfactory safety rating is necessary to keep the MC number active.

The Role of MC Number in Compliance

An MC number plays a significant role in FMCSA compliance. It helps the FMCSA track carriers' safety records, including crashes, inspections, and audit results. Carriers are regularly assessed under the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, with the Safety Measurement System (SMS) scoring carriers based on their compliance with safety regulations.

Notably, the MC number can significantly impact a carrier's reputation and business operations. Know what the DOT SAP Program? Carriers with better safety records and compliance ratings can attract more customers and potentially reduce their insurance premiums.

Possible Penalties and Sanctions

Neglecting your MC number can lead to severe consequences. If your business operates without the necessary authority, or if your MC number is deactivated and you continue to operate, you may face hefty fines.

The FMCSA can also order your vehicles out-of-service, leading to operational disruptions and reputational damage. Hence, understanding the importance of maintaining an active MC number is crucial for any business planning to operate commercial vehicles in the U.S.

Navigating the MC Number Application Process

Navigating the application process can be challenging. Read about Texas DOT Number. The FMCSA's URS platform simplifies it by providing a comprehensive guide on obtaining an MC number. Here’s a brief walkthrough:

  • File an OP-1(P) form: This form, available on the FMCSA website, asks for company details, including operation type and cargo classification.
  • Pay the application fee: As of the last update in September 2021, an application fee must be paid when submitting the OP-1(P) form.
  • Receive your MC Number: If your application is approved, FMCSA will mail you a letter containing your MC number.
  • Secure Insurance: After receiving your MC number, secure the minimum insurance required and have your insurance provider file proof of insurance to FMCSA.
  • Submit BOC-3 form: File a BOC-3 form with FMCSA. Know How to Get Oregon Trip And Fuel Permit? This form designates your process agents for each state where you operate.
  • Wait for Activation: Once the FMCSA receives the necessary insurance and process agent information, your authority will become active after a predetermined waiting period.

Safety compliance, Interstate commerce, Licensing requirements, Carrier identification, Regulatory compliance.

The Importance of Renewing Your MC Number

Although an MC number does not need to be renewed like a USDOT number, it’s important to ensure all linked requirements, such as insurance and safety regulations, are consistently met. Also, keeping your business information up-to-date is crucial to avoid any potential issues.

The Motor Carrier Number's Role in Industry Reputation

An active MC number is key in building a good industry reputation. Compliance with FMCSA
regulations indicates your commitment to safety and can attract more clients, especially those who prioritize safe transportation. Visit & learn about UCR filing. A solid reputation backed by an active MC number can also pave the way for more business opportunities.


In summary, the MC number is essential in interstate commercial transportation in the United States. Want to know about the DOT Authority Package? It is a critical regulatory tool that assures the FMCSA and clients of your commitment to safety and compliance. Therefore, understanding the basics of a Motor Carrier number, obtaining it, and keeping it active should be top priorities for every motor carrier business owner.

It’s important to remember that this guide offers general advice and may not cover every aspect of the MC number process. How To Request the DOT PIN Number? As regulations change, always consult a professional advisor or refer to the FMCSA for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Doing so will ensure your business operates smoothly, stays compliant, and maintains a stellar industry reputation.

Summary: What is a Motor Carrier Number?

  • A Motor Carrier Number (MC number) is an identification number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
  • The MC number identifies and tracks commercial vehicles in interstate commerce.
  • It identifies the motor carrier, their authority to operate, and the types of commodities they can haul.
  • The MC number must be included on shipping documents when a vehicle hauls freight across state lines.
  • Every company that meets FMCSA requirements for operating commercial vehicles on public roads is assigned an MC number.
  • An MC number must be renewed every two years to maintain its validity.
  • Companies must submit evidence that they meet FMCSA to obtain an MC registration.

Related tags
Explore Filing Options

Let's Talk