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What is Operating Authority (MC number) and who needs it?

In general, companies that do the following are required to have interstate operating authority (MC number) in addition to a DOT number:

  • Operating as for-hire carriers (for a fee or other compensation)
  • Transporting passengers, or arranging for their transport, in interstate commerce
  • Transporting federally regulated commodities or arranging for their transport, in interstate commerce

Operating Authority means the registration required by 49 U.S.C. 1390249 CFR part 36549 CFR part 368, and 49 CFR 392.9a.

FMCSA operating authority is also referred to as an "MC," "FF," or "MX" number, depending on the type of authority that is granted. Unlike the USDOT Number application process, a company may need to obtain multiple operating authorities to support its planned business operations. Operating Authority dictates the type of operation a company may run and the cargo it may carry.

You can register online via the FMCSA Online Registration System.

All of this also dictates the level of insurance/financial responsibilities a company must maintain. Carriers not required to have operating authority include:

  • Private carriers (carriers that transport their own cargo)
  • “For-hire" carriers that exclusively haul exempt commodities (cargo that is not federally regulated)
  • Carriers that operate exclusively within a federally designated "commercial zone" that is exempt from interstate authority rules. A commercial zone is, for example, a geographic territory that includes multiple states bordering on a major metropolitan city, such as Virginia/Maryland/Washington, DC

More information on motor carrier insurance can be found on our web site.

Last Updated : June 4, 2014