Thursday, January 15, 2015

USDOT & MC Numbers: Details on Biennial Updates & Maintaining Your Operating Authority

We’ve been getting quite a few questions here at TSNAmerica, questions regarding DOT & MC

Do you need one– the other– or both? And what are they used for?

Well today, we’ll make some sense of the FMCSA’s requirements for DOT & MC numbers, and we’ll cover the part that people most often forget: required biennial updates.


  • The USDOT Number serves as your vehicle’s identification during inspections, compliance reviews, and more.
  • The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) requires most interstate vehicles that haul cargo or passengers to obtain a DOT#.
  • Are you required to have a DOT#? Here are the specific requirements for interstate vehicles: 1. Your vehicle has a gross or combined weight of 10,001 lbs or more. 2. Your vehicle transports 8 or more passengers for compensation. 3. Your vehicle transports 15 or more passengers not for compensation. 4. You transport hazardous materials.
  • If you travel intrastate only, you will still be required to obtain a DOT# if you transport hazardous materials or if you are based in one of the 33 states that requires DOT#’s for all commercial carriers. Here’s a list of the states that currently require DOT#’s:

    Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  • When you first obtain your DOT#, you will be issued a PIN. Keep this information safe as you will need it to update your information with the FMCSA.
  • If you lose your PIN, TSNAmerica can retrieve it for you. The fastest way for us to retrieve it is via the email you have on file with the FMCSA. Postal mail retrieval will take 7-10 business days, so it’s important to provide the FMCSA with an email address you will have long-term access to for situations like these. Either way, we can get the job done and get you back on track.

Biennial Updates

  • All DOT#’s must be updated with the FMCSA biennially (every 2 years) in order to remain active. 
  • Even if your business or vehicle information has not changed, you are still required to update.
  • If you fail to update your DOT# information, the FMCSA may deactivate your DOT# or may even levy steep penalties against you. 
  • The deadline for you to update is determined by the last digit in your DOT#. Each digit corresponds to the month in which you should update. For example, DOT#’s ending in 9 must be updated in September every other year. 
  • For information about when your update is due, or for help filing your update, just call TSNAmerica!

MC #

  • Now for the tricky part! So you have a DOT#...but do you also need an MC#?
  • The MC#, also issued through the FMCSA, grants you your interstate operating authority. The type of authority you must obtain is determined by your business operations and the kind of cargo you carry. Some businesses may need more than one. In this case, the MC# is the type of authority required for for-hire carriers. 
  • TSNAmerica can help you determine which kinds of authority you need to obtain in addition to your DOT#. 
  • Private carriers are not required to obtain an MC#.

But Wait, There's More...

  • To be issued an MC#, you will need to have a BOC-3 processing agent on file with the FMCSA. The BOC-3 agent is the designated person or office that will receive legal documents on your behalf in each state.
  • Now there’s good news, and there’s bad news. The bad news is this: if you choose to do complete the BOC-3 on your own, you will need to seek out a processing agent for every single state you operate in. That’s a lot of work! Here’s the good news: you don’t have to do it!
  • TSNAmerica is an FMCSA-registered Blanket Agent, meaning we already have the contacts in every state that you need. We can file your BOC-3 for you, same day! No waiting, no third party involvement. Just immediate results. 
  • Just one last thing! Once you receive your MC#, it will not be active until you provide the FMCSA with your insurance information. To activate your MC#, have your insurance company E-file for the correct amount of coverage that is required for your operation. Then you’re ready to roll!
Knowledge is the first step. As a business owner, it’s important to understand the requirements specific to your business.

Truck Services of North America is the second step. We don’t only know the requirements, we also know how to meet them in a timely fashion.

That’s why we have service packages to cover all of the above and more! No matter what your business needs, we can file it for you fast. From obtaining your operating authority, to BOC-3, and even quarterly IFTA filings or HVUT, Truck Services of North America can handle it for you and give you peace of mind that it was done right the first time.

Head over to and view our time-saving services. Then send us a Service Request form, call us at 803.386.0320, or email us at One of our happy helpers at our headquarters in Rock Hill, SC, is ready to help make your life easier!

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