Friday, January 29, 2016

Interstate vs Intrastate Operating Authority: What's the Difference?

It never fails; every year around this time (and all the time, really) we get question after question asking, "What's the difference between intrastate and interstate authority?" Well friend, that’s a great question, and also probably the reason you’re reading this. So what exactly is the difference between the two?

Well, interstate, just like the term used to describe our cross-country roadways, means “existing or carried on between state lines.” So as you can piece together based on the definition, it means being able to drive your truck and haul loads across state lines. While intrastate, with the root word “intra,” means within; so it refers only to mileage driven within a particular state. Simple enough, right?

But if you are going to be driving across the country, or at least in multiple states (as most truckers do) then you’ll need to make sure the following items are taken care of prior to crossing state lines in your rig.

Apply for a USDOT#

Your USDOT# is issued by the FMCSA, and is used for vehicles that travel interstate, either to haul cargo or to transport passengers. You must have one if:

  • Your commercial vehicle weighs 10,001 pounds or more,
  • Transports 8 passengers or more for compensation, or 15 or more without comp.,
  • Transports Hazardous Materials, or 
  • If you travel in a state that requires a DOT#. 

Please note: This process will be done using the URS system for new applicants, and previous applicants will register using the new system as well starting on September 30, 2016. If you have any questions about the new URS system, take a look at our blog covering the most common questions about URS registration.

Apply for an MC#

Your MC# is what actually serves as your interstate authority, which gives you the ability to legally travel and haul loads between states. So yeah, it’s pretty important. But not so fast—don’t think that once you’ve got this you’re in the clear! You’ll still need to obtain another type of authority from the FMCSA depending on what type of business you have. If you’re unsure what type is right for you, just give us a call!

Register for UCR

UCR is another necessity for truckers traveling interstate, as the agreement requires all commercial vehicles travelling interstate and weighing at least 10,001 pounds to register for UCR annually. You’ll also have to pay the required fees based on the total number of vehicles you need to register.

Register for IRP

This is for vehicles that travel across multiple jurisdictions in the United States or in Canada and that weigh at least 26,000 pounds and/or have three or more axles. The fees for this particular registration depend on the mileage driven in each jurisdiction, and those fees are paid to the base jurisdiction where you are registered. It is then your base jurisdiction’s responsibility to apportion the funds to the correct jurisdictions based on your mileage.

Apply for an IFTA License and Decals

If you operate in multiple jurisdictions, you will have to apply for your IFTA license and decals with your base jurisdiction. Your fuel use and mileage traveled in each participating jurisdiction must be recorded, and then that information must be filed with your base jurisdiction.

Sound a little confusing? Well, we’re not going to lie, it most certainly is. But luckily for you, we can help you take care of every item on this list, and IFTA services are our specialty! So if you need someone to take the IFTA-filing burden off your plate this quarter, just give us a call and we’ll show you just how easy it really is!
Read More »

Friday, January 22, 2016

How to Obtain the Proper Permits: Trip, Fuel, HazMat, and More!

So you just got a call from your dispatcher, and now you’ve got to take a load somewhere you’ve never been. Somewhere far away, a magical place, filled with luscious fields and amber waves of grain. Sound familiar?

OK, so it’s probably not quite that glamorous. But what if you’re going somewhere you’ve never traveled before and you don’t have the proper authority? Well if you are, we can assure you it’s going to be the opposite of glamorous. That is, unless you enjoy paying fines to the government! But not to worry, we’ve got the perfect solution to keep you on the road legally, no matter where you're going or what type of load you’re hauling -- so take a look!

Temporary Trip Permit:

To travel anywhere interstate without your IRP credentials you’ll need to secure a temporary trip permit. These permits allow you to travel legally without having your IRP registration. Convenient, right? And just so you know, If you’re using one of these to travel, you’ll need to get it before you actually enter the jurisdiction -- so don’t wait until the last minute!

Temporary Fuel Permit:

So a trip permit allows you to travel without being registered under IRP, but what about IFTA!? Don’t worry, there’s a permit for that too. Just get a temporary fuel permit and you'll be able to travel interstate without registering under the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). But just like with trip permits, you’ll want (and need) to have these taken care of and purchased before actually entering the jurisdiction.

Hunter’s Permit:

If you’re currently wondering what the heck a Hunter’s permit is, you may have also heard/seen it referred to as an Unladen Permit. These permits are used for leased owner operators that were forced to turn in their IRP plates and decals after the lease with their carrier is terminated.

HM Safety Permit:

Now that we’ve covered fuel and trip permits, what about those of you carrying loads with hazardous materials? Well, there’s a permit for that, too. Anyone carrying dangerous or hazardous substances (you know, like toxic, radioactive, or combustible materials) will need to renew this Hazardous Materials Safety Permit every two years (biennially).

PHMSA Permit:

In addition to the HazMat safety permit, HazMat carriers must also get a PHMSA permit, also known as a HazMat Certification of Registration. All carriers transporting hazardous materials must obtain this permit, and the exact type of permit you need depends on the specific material you’ll be transporting. This permit, however, has to be filed every year, and the registration year conveniently (or inconveniently, depending on how you see it) runs just like the HVUT tax year, from July 1-June 30 the following year. But unlike HVUT, and unfortunately for you, if you register mid year there is no prorated amount -- you’ll have to pay your registration in full.

Harvest Permit:

If you just finished your harvest and are going to start transporting heavier loads, then the harvest permit is for you! This permit allows you to temporarily increase your gross vehicle weight without having to do it permanently, saving you money if you’re only transporting heavier loads during harvest season -- hence the name!

Read More »

Friday, January 15, 2016

4 Ways to Prevent Back Pain on the Road

Ever been on the road and felt some discomfort in your back? Well, of course, you have, because when you’re driving for hours on end, back pain is pretty much inevitable. But wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to avoid back pain? And no, we don’t mean by taking four packs of Goody's powder or ibuprofen - we're talking about solving the problem at its roots! Take a look at our tips below on how you can eliminate back pain straight from the source.

Maximize Your Movement

Yeah duh, we know this seems kind of like a no brainer. But do you know why it’s so important to move around? Because your vertebrae is made up of lots of tiny bones, 33 to be exact. In between these bones is a special liquid, essentially acting as a lubricant to keep these bones functioning as they should. And do you know what happens when you don’t move around enough on a daily basis? Well, this liquid doesn’t work like it’s supposed to, which can lead to intense back pain, and who wants to deal with back pain on the road?

So be sure that whenever you get the chance, whether it’s during a fuel up or while you’re dropping off a load, you get out of the truck and move around. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, just a 15-minute walk or some quick stretches can make all the difference.

Activate Your Core

Since you’re behind the wheel of a truck for hours on end, it can be hard to find a way to properly strengthen your core so that you have the proper muscular balance between your glutes, abs, and lower/upper back muscles. And no, we’re not saying you need to go lay down in the parking lot and do 600 crunches every morning. Instead, you can simply try doing more stretching, deep breathing, or some other quick and simple exercises that can help increase core strength.

Strengthen Your Glutes

Nope, even though you’re laughing at glutes, we’re not joking. Having weak glutes is actually one of the biggest causes of back pain since they're tasked with stabilizing your hips, which in turn has a direct effect on the position of your spine and neck. And unfortunately for truckers, sitting down for 10 hours a day doesn’t work the glutes much. But by focusing on improving glute strength, you will, in turn, stabilize your hips and pelvis, leading to better posture for your neck and back. It may sound simple, but trust us, it can make a world of difference when you spend long hours driving a rig.

Call Truck Services of North America

Wondering how giving us a call is going to solve your back pain? Well giving us a call and letting us do your 4th quarter IFTA return for you seems like it would probably do the trick, too. Don’t believe us? Give us a call at 803.386.0320, and see how easy IFTA can be when someone else handles it for you!

Read More »

Friday, January 8, 2016

What You Need to Know About the URS: URS FAQs

Hello there, Trucking Nation! At TSNAmerica we pride ourselves on covering the hottest topics in trucking, and boy do we have a hot one for you todayURS! That’s right, we’re going to go through and answer some of the most commonly asked questions truckers have been asking us about the new system.

What is the URS?

URS stands for Unified Registration System and is a new electronic registration system put in place to streamline the FMCSA’s current process for registration. The system will also conveniently provide a database of information on all companies regulated by the FMCSA.

Does the URS apply to me?

Well, if you’re an interstate motor carrier, then yes, it absolutely does. All motor carriers that travel interstate, including freight forwarders, brokers, etc. must comply with the new guidelines set by the URS.

When do I have to comply with this new system?

There are several different implementation dates and rules for the new system:

  • As of December 12, 2015, all new applicants applying for a USDOT number must use the new online application system.
  • Starting September 30, 2016, both new and existing applicants must use the new online system to process new applications. The FMCSA has already stated that they will not be accepting paper forms or faxes! 
  • Starting December 2016, all private and exempt carriers will officially be required to have BOC-3 filings and insurance in place. All new applicants applying for a USDOT number will have to begin providing that information on Sept. 30, 2016. 

What is the benefit of URS?

The ideal benefit of the new system will be the streamlined manual processes, as the system combines several forms that companies are required to submit into the same registration process. The FMCSA has even estimated that the trucking industry as a whole could see up to $9 million over a ten year period just from time and fees saved alone.

The FMCSA also stated that 16 percent of new registrations are currently submitted by paper. So please note that for those without internet access or that aren’t fans of using computers, the FMCSA recommends that you use a processing agency. And how convenient for you, because that’s exactly what we do!

Now we know it’s an entirely new system and it’s going to require some getting used to, but if you have any questions about it you know who to call! Just give us a ring at 803.386.0320 or email us at and we’ll be happy to answer any URS-related questions you can throw our way!

Read More »

Friday, January 1, 2016

3 Ways for Truckers to Start off the New Year Right

Happy New Year’s to everyone out there from us here at TSNAmerica! It’s officially 2016, which means it’s time to put 2015 on the back burner. Our resolution here at TSNAmerica is for you truckers to have the best 2016 possible. No seriously, that’s our resolution. Don’t believe us? Well we’ve got three helpful little tips that say otherwise—so take a look.

Spend Time With Friends, Family, and Other Loved Ones

This one seems pretty self-explanatory, but there’s a reason it’s number one on our list. Because what’s a better way to start 2016 than spending it with the people you care about most? It doesn’t matter where you spend it, as long as you’re ringing in the new year with people you love, it’s bound to be fun, special, and most of all—memorable.

And for you truckers on the road, there’s always FaceTime and Skype, so even if you aren’t at home, there’s always a way to be close to those you care about.

Remember to Have Your End-of-Year Renewals Taken Care of

Like we’ve mentioned previously, as of today, both IFTA and UCR renewals are required to be taken care of. If you just had a slight panic attack because we just reminded you that you didn’t get yours renewed, then give us a call and let us handle it! After all, that’s what we’re here for.

Oh and another friendly reminder that the 4th quarter for IFTA has ended, and that means you’ve got until the end of the month to get your returns filed. But, if you send us your mileage records, fuel records, and fuel receipts, we’ll take care of that for you, too!

Stay Prepared for the Year Ahead

Well, hopefully, you take our advice and take advantage of these three tips, and if you do, we’re sure they’ll help get you on track for a great year. Happy New Year’s from us here at Truck Services of North America, and have a happy and healthy 2016!
Read More »