The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a long-awaited final rule last week to establish a Unified Registration System for trucking companies, freight brokers and forwarders and others required to register with the agency. The final rule consolidates and automates a paper-based registration system and expands the number and type of companies or operations that must register with the FMCSA.
"This rule will improve the ability of FMCSA safety investigators to locate small and medium-sized private and exempt for-hire motor carriers for enforcement action," the agency said in the Aug. 23 Federal Register. That will make the FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program more efficient, the agency said, linking the online registration system to its leading carrier safety enforcement initiative.
The final rule includes new requirements for private fleets operated by shippers that hazardous materials. For the first time, those operators will be required to file proof of insurance, something for-hire carriers already must file with FMCSA. The new system will cost industry about $26.4 million over 10 years, while the agency will receive an additional $65.3 million in fees to support the electronic system, the FMCSA estimated in its rulemaking.
Most of the final rule takes effect in 2015. The FMCSA will spend the next two years developing the electronic URS. However, the FMCSA will enforce penalties against registrants that fail to update information every two years starting Nov. 1.
The URS will consolidate existing registration systems, including the system that generates Department of Transportation identification numbers, and create a public data base about businesses required to register with the federal agency. Sixteen different forms currently used by registrants will be combined into one online "smart" form.
The online registration system has been in the works since 1995, when Congress ordered the Department of Transportation to create a new unified system for registration in the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act. In addition to carriers, brokers and forwarders, the registration system will accommodate intermodal equipment providers, hazardous materials safety permit applicants and cargo tank facilities, the FMCSA said in the Federal Register.
All regulated entities will be required to update their information online every two years — though they may make changes at any time. Companies that fail to file a biennial update could lose their DOT numbers, the agency warned.
Under the new system, the DOT number becomes the “sole unique identifier” for brokers and freight forwarders as well as motor carriers, replacing motor carrier or MC numbers and FF numbers assigned to forwarders, the agency said. Although there will be no charge for updating information, new applicants will pay a $300 fee. The fee for reinstating a company’s authority after it has been revoked will drop from $80 to $10, and a $10 process agent fee will be eliminated.
In a provision designed to make it harder for companies to go out of business and restart under a new alias, the FMCSA will require companies to inform the agency of any changes to company name, address or form of business within 30 days.