If you operate into the U.S., keeping your fleet legal can be quite the undertaking. You need a USDOT number and for-hire authority, if applicable, from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). There are uniquely U.S. motor carrier safety regulations, including driver qualifications and hours of service. And, you’re subject to drug and alcohol testing if drivers are operating commercial motor vehicles.
The time and expense involved in obtaining the necessary credentials and implementing compliance policies can be steep. However, you’ll now pay a little less for one operating credential.
The 2019 Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) fees were recently adopted by FMCSA and are lower than previous years. In fact, the fees are the lowest they’ve ever been since the inception of the UCR in 2007.
The 2019 UCR filing period began on Jan. 1, and you’ll need to file by April 1.
Here’s what else you’ll need to know to get your filing completed accurately and in a timely manner if you’ll be operating in the U.S. this year.
Canadian carriers must pay
Carriers based in Canada are subject to the UCR filings. But because you’re not based in a state that is a member of UCR, you can choose a UCR filing base state. For example, if you’re based in Ontario and that is your only business location, you can choose Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, or Wisconsin.
Vehicle counts and fees
The fees paid for the UCR are based on the number of vehicles operated into the United States. Typically, carriers use the number of commercial motor vehicles they report on the MCS-150 on file with the FMCSA.
In 2019, those who own or operate one or two commercial motor vehicles pay $62 per entity, while those with three to five commercial motor vehicles pay $185, six to 20 pay $368, 21 to 100 pay $1,283, 101 to 1,000 pay $6,112, and 1,001 or more pay $59,689. In 2020 and beyond, the rates rise to a respective $68, $204, $407, $1,420, or $66,072 per entity depending on the same fleet sizes.
Filing your UCR
New for 2019 filings is a requirement for two pieces of data to log into the site – specifically, your USDOT number and the last four digits of your U.S. Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN).
Third-party services can also be used to help file the FCR.
How are UCR funds used?
It may appear you don’t get much for your money — not even a piece of paper, since there’s no need to carry a receipt or credential. On-road enforcement is conducted electronically by using your USDOT number. But there is broader benefit to paying the UCR. The collected fees are used to fund motor carrier safety initiatives and enforcement programs in the U.S., as well as to fund the UCR program itself.
2020 and beyond
The UCR is an annual filing that is required for carriers wishing to continue operating in U.S. commerce.
Going forward, Canadian carriers will want to take note that the UCR filings for the upcoming year usually start on Oct. 1 of the previous year and run until Dec. 31. It means that, for 2020, filing will likely start Oct. 1 and be due by Dec. 31, 2019.
Delays in the filing start dates for the 2018 and 2019 filing years were a bit of an anomaly because FMCSA didn’t adopt the fees in time for filings to begin on Oct. 1.
For 2020 and beyond, you may need to file a bit earlier than you did this year.
- Heather Ness is the editor of transport operations at J.J.Keller and Associates. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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