MC Authority

Logistics Term

What Is MC Authority?

Also known as MC number, MC authority is an interstate operating authority and a unique identifier given by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to transport companies operating across state lines.

Once you apply for the MC authority, it takes about 21 days to become active. So before you hire a shipping company, it’s essential to ask for their MC authority to verify they’re licensed to offer that type of service. A transport company without MC authority should be a big red flag because it means they’re not qualified to provide the services or even recognized by the government.

The government uses MC authority to stay informed about the company’s safety records, such as compliance reviews, registration status, crash investigations, inspections and ratings. That means by searching for the MC authority on the FMCSA website, you can see the number of accidents a company has been involved in and the area they’re allowed to operate, among other important information.

What Does "MC" Stand for in Trucking?

MC stands for Motor Carrier number or MC authority. This number indicates that companies can provide transport across state borders. Any company that provides regional or over-the-road trucking services should have MC authority.

What's the Difference Between a DOT Number and MC Authority?

A USDOT number (United States Department of Transportation number) is a more general requirement for commercial transport, while a MC number is a higher-level authority for more specific purposes.

A USDOT number is a unique identifier that the FMCSA gives to commercial motor carriers. All commercial motor vehicles transporting weight over a certain limit for interstate commerce or carrying specific amounts of paying passengers need this number. Many states require commercial motor vehicle registrants to get a USDOT number even if they stay within state borders.

Most commercial motor carriers must have a USDOT number. A MC number is an additional safety requirement that fewer companies need. Companies must have a MC number if they transport passengers in interstate commerce, work as for-hire carriers or arrange transport of commodities regulated by the federal government.

What Are the Different Types of Operating Authority?

A MC number is just one type of operating authority. Other types of operating authority include Freight Forwarder Authority (FF) and Mexico-based Carrier Authority (MX). Freight forwarders organize shipments for individuals or corporations, while FMCSA-licensed carriers perform the actual movement of goods. Mexico-based companies need an MX number to indicate their authority to operate in the U.S. beyond the commercial zones along the border.

Even within the category of MC numbers, carriers may need different types of authority depending on the kind of business they do. Examples include:

  • Motor carriers of property
  • Motor carriers of household goods
  • Brokers of property
  • Brokers of household goods
  • United States-based enterprise carriers of international cargo
  • United States-based enterprise carriers of international household goods

The kinds of authority impact the types and level of insurance the FMCSA requires.

How Do You Apply for MC Authority?

The application process for MC authority depends on whether companies are first-time applicants or existing entities with a USDOT number or MC number. New applicants use the Unified Registration System. This application allows them to get a USDOT number and MC number.

Companies with a USDOT number or MC number can apply using the FMCSA's legacy registration system or OP-1 series forms. After registering, companies will receive MC authority documents in the mail. They can also search for their company name, MC number or USDOT number online to see whether authority has been granted.

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