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November 20, 2017

Do I Need Interstate or Intrastate Operating Authority?

Are you looking to start your own trucking company? Have you decided where you want to haul? What you want to haul? How you’re getting the truck you need to haul? Before you even start hauling your first load, you’ll need to get proper licensing and registration. The question is, where do you even start? Here is just one piece of the big puzzle that is trucking regulations: Interstate vs. Intrastate Operating Authority.

What Is Interstate Operating Authority?

If you want to haul loads interstate (across state or national borders), you’re most likely going to need your Interstate Operating Authority. This authority used to be tied to your Motor Carrier (MC) number, but it is now tied to your USDOT number. Here are two criteria to help you determine if you need your Interstate Operating Authority:

1. Working For-Hire

Determine if your company is working for-hire. This means that if you are planning on hauling someone else’s property for a profit, then your company is considered for-hire. This is different than working in-house, where you or the company you work for is hauling their own property.

2. Crossing State or National Borders

Interstate means crossing state or national borders, so if you are planning on going through more than one state or country to deliver your loads, then you’ll most likely need your Interstate Operating Authority.
Even if your company is running under these two criteria, there are still exceptions that may or may not require you to get your Interstate Operating Authority. Give us a call at (866) 739-2032 to find out if you really need it.

Get Your Interstate Operating Authority

What About Intrastate Authority?

Some trucking companies choose to run only in one state. If you choose to go that route, you’ll probably need Intrastate Operating Authority, which is different than Interstate Authority. Companies working intrastate still need proper registration, whether it’s in the form of a USDOT number or simply just with Intrastate Operating Authority. While there are companies that can make a profit while only running intrastate (only in one state), you could be missing out on profitable opportunities with large loads that go through multiple states.

How are These Different Than a USDOT Number?

While Interstate Authority is tied to your USDOT number, these two things are different. A USDOT number is like your driver’s license number, and your Operating Authority (which used to be your MC Number) is an extra registration step to get your business running. There are three criteria that can help you determine if you need a USDOT number:

1. Operating a Commercial Vehicle

The FMCSA’s definition of a commercial vehicle that would require a USDOT number is a vehicle that:

  • Transports HAZMAT that requires a safety permit in intrastate commerce


  • Has a gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 10,001 or more
  • Can transport more than 8 passengers including the driver for compensation
  • Can transport more than 15 passengers including the driver but is not used to transport for compensation

2. Participating in Commerce

If your trucking company is doing what a trucking company does best (transporting loads for a profit), you’ll most likely need a USDOT number. This distinction is important because even if you are driving what may be considered a commercial vehicle, if you are using it for personal use, you probably do not need one.

3. Location of Your Company

If you’re only planning on intrastate commerce, some states don’t require you to get a USDOT number, while others do. Here is a list of states that need a USDOT number even if the company is only working in one state.

How do I get my Interstate Operating Authority?

To get your Interstate Operating Authority, you’ll first need to get your USDOT number. Before, your Interstate Operating Authority was tied to a Motor Carrier (MC) number. However, regulations have changed. Now, your Interstate Operating Authority is registration you need to to run your business interstate. It’s independent from your USDOT number, but the registration is tied to it. Motor Carrier can help you get your USDOT number and your Interstate Operating Authority.

Get Your Intrastate DOT Number

What Else do I Need?

If you’re not confused yet with the Interstate or Intrastate operating authority and USDOT number, there are still a few more steps you need to take to get the proper motor carrier authority to get your trucking company off the ground and on the road.

FMCSA Filing Fee

After you’ve legally registered your company as a business, whether it’s an LLC, corporation, or other organization, it may be time for you to pay the $300 FMCSA Filing Fee. This fee is the first step to getting your proper motor carrier authority.

BOC-3 Process Agent Filing

Only a processing agent can file the Form BOC-3. To make things easier for you, Motor Carrier HQ can take care of the BOC-3 Filing for free as part of our motor carrier authority package.

How do I get Started

If you’re trying to start your own trucking company, you don’t have to do it alone. We know that you could do most of the paperwork yourself, but we can save you time and money. If you’re thinking about running your own business, give us a call. We work directly with you to make a customized game-plan that works best for your new company.

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