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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Maintain Your Operating Authority: Are You Forgetting Something?



So you’ve managed to obtain your operating authority- which is no easy task!

But now comes the even trickier part of ensuring that your authority is maintained correctly.

With “maintenance” tasks required on a quarterly, annual, and biennial basis, it’s easy to forget one or more of the filings that are required for you to continue operating. But unfortunately, forgetting isn’t an option when your livelihood is at stake.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of everything you need to file- and when- for you to maintain your interstate operating authority like the pro that you are.


Basic Authority Maintenance


  • USDOT # Biennial Update: Your DOT# must be updated every two years in order to remain active. To update, simply provide the FMCSA with your current contact info, even if it hasn’t changed. The deadline for your biennial update is determined by the last digit of your DOT # which corresponds to a particular month. For example, numbers ending in 9 must be updated every other year in September. Not sure what your digit means? We can tell you what year/month your update it due and help you avoid penalties or deactivation. 
  • Change in Operation or Cargo: If your operation changes in any way, or if you start carrying a different type of cargo, you may need to apply for another authority in addition to your MC#. TSNA can apply for your FF or MX numbers as needed and help ensure uninterrupted operation.
  • Change in Contact Info: If your contact information changes, even slightly, you must immediately notify the FMCSA, as well as your BOC-3 blanket agent. This is to ensure that you can be contacted immediately in the event that your business is served legal papers. 


Annual Renewals


  • UCR, IRP & IFTA Renewals: All three licenses must be renewed annually, usually by December 31st. IRP renewals, however, may be due at the end of another quarter depending on regulations in your base state. Check with TSNAmerica to see if you have a staggered deadline. 
  • State Use Tax Licenses: If you’re subject to an additional state use tax, then these licenses must also be renewed annually. For example, the Kentucky Use Tax can only be paid if you first have a KYU Number, and the Oregon Weight Weight-Mile Tax can only be filed with a current Weight Receipt. 
  • HVUT: Heavy vehicle use tax must also be paid each year. The HVUT tax year opens July 1st, and Form 2290 is due by the end of July for all renewals. It is important to file your Form 2290 on time, even if no tax is owed. The stamped Schedule 1 (your receipt for filing) is required for tag renewals. TSNAmerica can file your 2290 over the phone, same day! Just one more way we go above and beyond to accommodate your busy schedule!
  • Recordkeeping: As always, proper recordkeeping is vital to remaining compliant. Failure to maintain records could result in penalties, so be sure you’re updating your distance and fuel records daily. 

Quarterly Tax Filings


  • IFTA Returns: In addition to renewing your IFTA license annually, mileage and fuel use reports by jurisdiction must be submitted each quarter at the end of January, April, July & October. Any fuel taxes owed must be paid at the time of filing. 
  • State Use Tax Returns: Like IFTA, state use taxes also require quarterly mileage/fuel use reports. If you operate in Kentucky, New York, New Mexico, or Oregon, then you are subject to a quarterly tax based on the miles accrued in that state. 
  • Quarterly Recordkeeping: For all of these quarterly taxes, proper recordkeeping is essential. Submitting inaccurate or incomplete distance and fuel records will only result in paying more taxes, and it can even result in being audited, paying penalties, and in the worst case scenario, your license being revoked. All original documents, receipts, and trip sheets should be kept in your base jurisdiction for at least 4 years after the close of the quarter. 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when your paperwork outnumbers you 20 to 1. Level the playing field by making TSNAmerica your ally.

When you become a TSNAmerica client, you’re our client for life. We won’t register your MC# and then leave you to figure how to maintain your authority all by yourself. We go the extra mile to remind you about upcoming deadlines and to lend you a helping hand when you need it most.

In fact, we can file all of the above and then some! No matter what your business needs, chances are we have a service to cover it. To view all of our service packages, head over to tsnamerica.com, or to speak with one of our processing professionals, just call us directly at 803.386.0320. We look forward to being your partner!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Obtain Your Operating Authority: Follow this Checklist


Are you ready and rarin’ to hit the open road?

If starting a transportation company is what you fancy, then you’ve come to the right place!

To obtain your interstate or intrastate operating authority, make sure you have everything on this list covered, and then nothing will be holding you back.


USDOT#


Issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the USDOT# serves as your vehicle’s identification for compliance reviews and more. 

The DOT# is required for your vehicles if 1. You operate interstate (across state and international lines), 2. You transport passengers or cargo, and 3. Your vehicle has a total gross or combined weight of 10,000 lbs or more. If you meet all 3 of these criteria, you must register with the FMCSA and obtain a DOT#.

There are exceptions, however. Many states now require intrastate carriers to also have DOT#’s, especially if you transport hazmat.


MC#


Also granted by the FMCSA, the MC# is the authority issued to interstate for-hire carriers. Additional authorities (FF or MX numbers) may need to be obtained depending on your business’s operations and cargo. TSNAmerica can help you determine which authority is needed for your business.


BOC-3


The blanket of coverage, known as BOC-3, must be filed with the FMCSA before your MC# will be activated. The BOC-3 designates process agents in all states that your business operates, and these process agents accept legal papers in your absence. TSNAmerica is an FMCSA registered blanket agent, so we can file your BOC-3 directly with the FMCSA, same day. No third party involvement.



UCR


The Unified Carrier Registration is a federally-mandated, state-administered program for the registration of interstate carriers in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Like the DOT#, UCR is required for vehicles weighing 10,001 lbs or more. This license must be renewed annually, and businesses will be charged an annual fee based on the number of vehicles they own or lease long-term.



IRP


The International Registration Plan is required for all interstate carriers with vehicles weighing over 26,000 lbs or with 3 or more axles. IRP licenses must be renewed each year, but the deadlines vary by state and are often staggered based on the month in which you first registered. If you aren’t sure when your renewal is due, just give us a quick call and we can help you sort it out.



IFTA


The International Fuel Tax Agreement is required for all interstate carriers with vehicles that weigh over 26,000 lbs or have 3 or more axles. Not only must this license be renewed annually, but registrants are required to submit quarterly reports of their mileage and fuel use broken down by state. Any fuel tax owed must also be submitted at the time of filing. To determine which state is your base jurisdiction and for tips on proper IFTA recordkeeping, just ask TSNAmerica for assistance.



HVUT


Heavy vehicle use tax is an annual federal tax levied on commercial vehicles that weigh 55,000 lbs or more and that travel at least 5,000 miles on public highways throughout the year. Whether you’re an interstate or intrastate carrier, you must pay your annual HVUT if your vehicle meets the criteria above. After filing, you’ll receive a stamped Schedule 1 as confirmation. This is one piece of paper you want to keep on hand as a current stamped Schedule 1 is required to renew your tags, renew UCR, and more.

To pay your HVUT, you can either E-file your Form 2290 or have TSNAmerica do it for you! We can even file your HVUT over the phone by just collecting a few key pieces of information.



Intrastate Authority


If you stay entirely within the boundaries of your state (intrastate only), then most of the above will not apply to you, except for the DOT#. Many states now require DOT#’s for intrastate for-hire carriers.
It’s also possible that your state has an additional state use tax: New York, Oregon, Kentucky, and New Mexico all do. We can help you register for this state tax and keep up with the quarterly and annual filings. 



Once you make it through the hurdles of initially obtaining your authority, then comes the work of maintaining your authority correctly. The USDOT# must be updated biennially, IFTA and UCR registrations renewed annually, and IFTA reports filed quarterly.

That’s why at Truck Services of North America our mission is to stay with your business for the long haul. We won’t just set up your authority and leave you to figure the rest out. We stick with you and ensure that your business remains up-to-date on all registrations, permits, and taxes.

To see how we can help you establish and maintain your business, view our service packages at tsnamerica.com. Then call us at our headquarters in Rock Hill, SC at 803.386.0320 or shoot us an email at support@tsnamerica.com.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

BOC-3 Filings: What You Need to Know Before You File Yourself


UCR, IFTA, IRP, MC#, DOT#–the list goes on and on!

Obtaining your operating authority requires filing all of the above and more, making this task a time-consuming nightmare for new transportation companies.

But nothing is more arduous than filing your own BOC-3.

The BOC-3, or blanket of coverage, is also required to obtain your interstate operating authority, and it is typically filed immediately after your MC# is issued.

Submitted to the FMCSA, the BOC-3 filing is used to designate process agents in each state your business operates in or through.

Each process agent serves as your legal representative in that state and accepts all legal documents or court papers that may be served to your business. The agent in turn sends those documents to you, and if the agent is a lawyer, they may advise you on how to proceed appropriately and according to laws in that state.


Ways to File your BOC-3


Here’s where it gets tricky! Should you decide to file the BOC-3 on your own, you must obtain the contact information and consent for an agent in each state you operate in. Moreover, the agent cannot be just anyone. For example, the agent must reside in the state for which s/he is designated. It’s also best that the agent be a lawyer for the reason stated above. For more information on who can serve as an agent, check the FMCSA regulation 49 CFR 366.

Alternatively, you can have a processing agent file your BOC-3 for you. But be cautious when choosing your processing service. The agent must be registered with the FMCSA as a BOC-3 blanket agent. This means they have already leased the services of an agent in all states, which is itself a difficult task that many agents have not completed. Moreover, many processing services will take 3-7 days to complete your BOC-3, which means your MC# will not be activated and you cannot operate.

If you’d prefer to have a processing service handle your BOC-3, there’s no one better equipped to handle it than Truck Services of North America. We’re not only BOC-3 certified, we’re fast too and we’ll complete your BOC-3 filing in 5 minutes or less. No third party involvement. And if we are obtaining your MC# for you, we can automatically complete your BOC-3 at the same time if you so choose.


Change Happens


  • Changes in designation can only be made by filing a new BOC-3 with the FMCSA. If you have an existing BOC-3, but would like to alter one of your designations, TSNAmerica can E-file the new BOC-3 for you in minutes. 
  • If any of your contact information changes, even slightly, you are legally obligated to notify your blanket agent. This is to ensure that any legal documents served to your business can be promptly delivered. Just give us a quick phone call if you need to update your contact info, and we’ll get you squared away immediately. 

Truck Services of North America has authority packages to get your new business up and running with zero hassle. Already have a DOT# & MC#? No problem. If the BOC-3 is all you need, we can still E-file it for you instantly. In fact, whatever your business needs, we have a service that will take care of it for you.

View our authority packages at TSNAmerica.com, and then send us a service request form to find out more. Or you’re always welcome to call us in our hometown of Rock Hill, SC. You’ll never get trapped in an automated system. Call us at 803.386.0320 to see for yourself!


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