In general, companies that do the following are required to have interstate operating authority, in addition to a U.S. DOT Number [49 U.S.C. 13902, 13903 or 13904 and 49 CFR 365]:
- Transport passengers in interstate commerce (for a fee or other compensation, whether direct or indirect).
- Transport federally-regulated commodities owned by others or arrange for their transport, (for a fee or other compensation, in interstate commerce). This includes brokers or freight forwarders of general commodities or household goods.
FMCSA operating authority is often identified as an "MC," "FF," or "MX" number, depending on the type of authority that is granted. Unlike the U.S. DOT 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, as well as the level of insurance/financial responsibilities a company must maintain. Motor carriers providing transportation without the required operating authority may be ordered out-of-service and subject to penalties.
Visit FMCSA’s Operating Authority web page to begin the application process.
Operating authority requirements for carriers based in the United States and Canada are different than those for carriers based in Mexico. See the Mexican-Domiciled Motor Carriers chapter for additional information. Additionally, operating authority requirements are different for U.S.-based carriers that are owned or controlled by a Mexican citizen or resident alien. More information can be found on the FMCSA Types of Operating Authority web page.