July 14, 2015
Understanding the UCR Process and Fees
Important Notice: Get the latest news about the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) on the official site at https://plan.ucr.gov/. If you have any questions about the UCR, call Motor Carrier HQ. We’re always ready to answer any questions you have and make sure your trucking company is up-to-date.
Last Updated: August 3rd, 2022
Owning a trucking company means keeping up with all of the registrations and fees needed to keep your trucks on the road. The Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) program is one of the many different fees you’ll need to plan for. It’s a necessary component of any trucking company, regardless of size or geography, and failure to file the fee properly could have drastic consequences for your business.
This resource covers the following details on how to manage the UCR process and associated fees:
- What the UCR is
- Who is required to register
- How to determine your fee
- When you should register
- What happens if you don’t pay
So, What Is the UCR?
Under the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Plan and Agreement program, individual states collect fees from motor carriers, private motor carriers, freight forwarders, brokers, and leasing companies based on the number of qualifying commercial motor vehicles in their fleets. The fees acquired by UCR are then used by the states to support safety programs and USDOT officer training.
Created in 2007, this program replaced the old Single-State Registration System (SSRS), which in turn replaced the Bingo-Stamp Program. This shouldn’t be confused with a CDL or other licenses and endorsements that qualify drivers to operate trucks for extended periods. The UCR is an annual filing and it must be renewed between October 1st and December 31st each year to remain valid.
Who Is Required to Register Under the UCR?
Trucking companies participating in interstate commerce will most likely have to register under the UCR. You will be required to pay the UCR fee with a base state. However, if your base state doesn’t participate in the program, then you are required to pay your UCR fee through a neighboring participating state if you’re planning on traveling across state lines. The size of the UCR fee is directly related to the number of trucks in each company’s fleet.
If you’re planning on only doing intrastate commerce, keep in mind that there are a few states that do not participate in the UCR. Currently, these states are:
- New Jersey
- District of Columbia (Washington D.C.)
When Should You Register for the UCR?
Registration for the UCR generally begins October 1st with the hard deadline set for January 1st of the intended year.
Beware of malicious companies trying to get you to file for the UCR when you don’t need to or pay beyond what is necessary for the right to file your information. Many of these predatory business practices are discussed in greater detail on Haulin Assets Episode 23 where our hosts review having seen companies charge over $300 to file the UCR for a one-truck company. For reference, it should cost less than half that for a third-party company to perform that service.
Remember to always verify any suspicious fees you aren’t confident about. Our coaches at Motor Carrier HQ are happy to help you discern whether a fee is legitimate or not.
How to Determine Your UCR Fee
Your fleet size is determined by the number of commercial motor vehicles you own or operate to conduct interstate commerce. Companies with 0-2 fleet vehicles owed a state fee of $59 in 2022, with a sliding scale all the way up to 1,001+ vehicle fleets owing fees amounting to $56,944. Brokers and leasing companies are required to pay the 0-2 fee tier, and trailers are not included in the total fleet size.
For the purposes of the UCR, any of your company’s trucks that do not travel across state lines and are based in a state that does not participate in the UCR are not required to count as part of your fleet.
The process of calculating your exact fee tends to change from year to year, but you can rely on the experts at Motor Carrier HQ to safely take care of this necessary registration for you. Just select the number of trucks in your fleet as well as the calendar year and then we’ll take it from there!
What Happens if You Don’t Pay Your UCR Fee?
If you’re familiar at all with the strict compliance rules and regulations governing the shipping industry, it should come as no surprise that any failure to pay UCR fees on time will hurt your business in the long run.
If you cross into participating states without having paid your UCR fee, the state and its USDOT officers are within their rights to pull your trucks off the road immediately and hold them until your UCR fees are paid. You’ll also be subject to additional fines and penalties, so make sure your books are clean and that timely fee payments are a priority every October 1st. Always remember to verify your UCR records are up-to-date through the NRS once your fees are submitted.
If you’re wondering whether or not you need to file your UCR or need assistance with the necessary paperwork, Motor Carrier HQ can help you. We specialize in filing UCR registrations so you don’t have to. Don’t get stopped at a port and placed out of service or fined because you are not current with your UCR filings. Leave it to us to do all of the paperwork so you can get back on the road!