November 20, 2017

Do I Need Interstate or Intrastate Operating Authority? [Updated 2020]

Post last updated: July 8, 2020

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. Our friends at Progressive Reporting created this video to help you understand what it is:

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. Other names for this authority are trucking authority or motor carrier authority.

Operating authority is tied to your Motor Carrier (MC) number. If you plan on getting both your DOT Number and MC Number, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will list both of these numbers together. 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 or trucking authority. For example, if you’re hauling your own property, you probably don’t need your operating authority, even if you’re going across state borders. Give us a call at (866) 739-2032 to find out if you really need it.

A white semi truck on a road.

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 something different, like your intrastate operating authority. Companies working intrastate still need proper registration, such as a DOT Number. Motor Carrier HQ can get your DOT Number for just $99.

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 Is Operating Authority Different Than a USDOT Number?

A DOT Number is like your driver’s license number, and your Operating Authority (or your MC Number) is an extra registration step to get your business running if you’re planning on operating in more than one state.

We’ve covered the differences between an MC Number and a DOT Number more thoroughly in this other blog post, but as an overview, here 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 transporting loads in commerce, you’ll most likely need a DOT Number. This distinction is important because even if you are driving what may be considered a commercial vehicle for personal use, you probably do not need a DOT Number.

3. Location of Your Company

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

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. Place an online order for your DOT Number for $99 or get our whole operating authority package for $499.

If you aren’t sure what you need yet, give us a call. We work directly with you to make a customized game-plan that works best for your new company.

Contact Motor Carrier HQ

How Do I Get My Interstate Operating Authority?

To get your Interstate Operating Authority, you’ll need a DOT Number. You can get this number directly from the FMCSA or Motor Carrier HQ can take care of it for you for $99.

Get Your Intrastate DOT Number

What Else Do I Need To Get My Operating Authority?

There are still a few more steps you need to take to get the proper motor carrier authority to get your trucking company 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 Change From Intrastate to Interstate Operations

If you already have a DOT Number and are hauling loads in one state, going from intrastate commerce to interstate commerce is relatively easy! You can use your DOT Number and apply for your interstate operating authority and pay the appropriate filing fee.

Motor Carrier HQ can take care of the steps for you and get your trucking authority for $499, which includes the $300 filing fee.

Do I Need an MC Number for Intrastate Commerce?

As a general rule, you do not need your operating authority for intrastate commerce. You only need your DOT Number. However, with every regulation, there may be exceptions. Give Motor Carrier HQ a call to help you determine whether you need your MC Number or not.

Where Can I Learn More?

If you want to learn more about trucking authority and starting your own trucking company, you can learn how in our podcast Haulin Assets. We’ve covered more about operating authority and even how to set your business up as a legal entity. You can listen to it completely free.

Listen to Haulin Assets

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