The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Their website states:

As the lead federal government agency responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), FMCSA’s mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

FMCSA partners with industry, safety advocates, and state and local governments to keep our nation’s roadways safe and improve CMV safety through regulation, education, enforcement, research, and technology.

The primary mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

The FMCSA develops and implements policies that align with our Mission. These policies include strategic initiatives and plans, performance and program evaluations, rule-makings, physical qualifications, vehicle and roadside operations and driver safety and carrier operations and standards.

They are the direct contact for the federal government, and directly administer for the Department of Transportation via direct contact with, and through Congress.  The utilization and federal guidelines are the basis of the USA transportation sector that governs the Carriers, Brokers, Freight Forwarders of the for-hire sector of commercial transportation via Inter-State Commerce.

FMCSA states,”

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

As of December 12, 2015, all entities applying through the Unified Registration System will obtain a USDOT number.

An authorized for-hire motor carrier transports passengers, regulated property or household goods owned by others for compensation.

  • A broker is a person or an entity which arranges for the transportation of property by a motor carrier for compensation. A broker does not transport the property and does not assume responsibility for the property
  • A freight forwarder is a person or entity which holds itself out to the general public to provide transportation of property for compensation and in the ordinary course of its business:
    • Assembles and consolidates, or provides for assembling and consolidating, shipments and performs break-bulk and distribution operations of the shipments
    • Assumes responsibility for the transportation from the place of receipt to the place of destination
    • Uses for any part of the transportation a rail, motor or water carrier subject to the jurisdiction of either FMCSA or the Surface Transportation Board.

There are 3 different classifications of commercial drivers per the FMCSA:

Class A: Any combination of vehicles which has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more) whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) whichever is greater.

Class B: Any single vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more), or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight that does not exceed  4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds).

Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is transporting material that has been designated as hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 CFR Part 172 or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73.

Just know — they cover from any vehicle from the GVW of 10,000 lbs up that is utilizing the commercial transportation of public goods.  Technically, they regulate all carriers, including couriers; however the exemptions are quite—extensive.  Couriers not falling under the Class C regulations, technically do not need authority, nor the extensive insurance required of the Carriers.  Which is ill advised– Due to the Liability issues–of a public commercial Transportation service.

What I have noticed is the smaller courier businesses, forgo the authority, and operate based on minimum standards, by having a small commercial insurance, and simple business set up.  Technically the couriers of the commercial transportation grouping do not necessarily need the authorities that may be required of Carrier regulations-typically because they fall below the 10, 000 GVW mark typically associated with commercial operations–Couriers handle multiple picks and drops–small parcels—ect……

FMCSA has all kinds of rules——-They cover what every single person must do—period.  One of those rules happens to be involving the financials of the brokerage—there is rules about ownership ect……The Brokerage money must be kept with the brokerage—Carrier cannot get into that side —-the broker has to utilize its own billing for the customer, and not the Carrier.

This link is the Small Entity Compliance Guide for Brokers from the FMCSA-Compliance guide for brokers

There is a exception when it comes to carriers—Freight Interlining

per FMCSA Freight Interlining–To interline a shipment is to transfer the shipment between two or more carriers for movement to final destination. For example, where the point of origin is Washington, DC and the final destination is Los Angeles, CA, Motor Carrier “A” may transport a shipment from Washington, DC and then interline with Motor Carrier “B” in San Antonio, TX. Motor Carrier “B” will then complete the transportation of the shipment to Los Angeles, CA.

Per FMCSA– Anyone brokering a load must be registered as a broker, which by definition may only arrange — not perform — transportation unless the person is also separately registered as a motor carrier. A motor carrier that is performing part of the transportation as an interline operation, however, typically performs that service under its own motor carrier operating authority registration or the operating authority of the originating motor carrier. As a result, the motor carrier arranging the interline service in order to perform the transportation service requested by the shipper would not be brokering the load and would not require broker registration.

The Rules and Regulations are compiled in the FMCSA Regulation handbook typically produced in the iconic green book; that handles a 608 page front and back manifest with all the rules and regulations of the FMCSA….

Each Truck typically gets a copy at each carrier they work during orientation.  There are a few of us that actually do read the whole book, more than once!  Understanding and knowing the rules and regulations can save time, headache, and the frustration of violations that are found.

Knowing the regulations associated with your sector in the regulations can and will also save an operator, carrier, broker, and freight forwarder from losing their employment, customer, carrier, and contracts- spot mark or long term shippers.  Plus, the regulations just may get you out of trouble when you can spot the regulations better than the ones regulating and enforcing them……..

FMCSA rules and regulations are there in place for the public safety, whether over reaching and/or justifiable in any way–These are the Federal Rule everyone must follow.

Stay safe


Ever heard of Heavy Road Use Tax?

Electronic Log Books-

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