Calgary has been my home for the past 30-some years. When I moved here, it was easy to predict how long it would take to get from place to place, barring road construction or a traffic collision.
Travel didn’t take much thought or planning. It was simple.
As the population increased and the city grew, it became more difficult to get the timing right. There were neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Calgary that I had never even heard of, all teeming with busy commuters.
I had to start taking into account traffic patterns and the time of day. Familiar landmarks began to disappear. I’d get to a place and think, “When did this pop up here?”
If you’ve applied for a USDOT number recently, you’ve probably experienced a similar feeling: Uh-oh, what’s this and why didn’t I leave earlier?
This year, the US Department of Transportation is implementing the Unified Registration System (URS), a set of procedures for registering and updating information with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The new rules are a little disorienting if you’re used to the old way of doing things, and you’ll want to get your bearings before Sept. 30 when most of the changes take place.
What is the URS?
The URS applies to all private and for-hire interstate motor carriers, freight forwarders, brokers, intermodal equipment providers, hazmat permit applicants/holders and cargo tank manufacturing and repair facilities under FMCSA’s jurisdiction.
Starting Sept. 30, everyone subject to the URS rule will use a single online application to provide information to FMCSA. Instead of filling out separate forms for systems like the Licensing and Insurance System (L&I) and Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), you’ll log in to a Web site and enter all of your information once.
URS is supposed to eliminate paperwork and reduce errors. But it’s never easy when someone makes a change to a tried and true system. Here are some directions to help you navigate your way:
1. Set up your online portal
If you have a USDOT number, you must set up an FMCSA portal account where you’ll keep your information current. Visit http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/urs for instructions and support for obtaining an account.
2. No more MC numbers
MC, FF, MX, and other FMCSA-assigned numbers will no longer be issued, and FMCSA will no longer accept them as references for filings or other matters. Your USDOT number is your sole identifier.
3. File financial responsibility docs
New and existing hazmat carriers must provide financial responsibility (insurance) fillings beginning Sept. 30. There is a grace period for existing hazmat carriers and exempt-for-hire carriers, with enforcement deferred until Dec. 31.
4. Designate a process agent
All new applicants must select a process agent to file the Form BOC-3 on their behalf before their registration will be granted. A process agent ensures that FMCSA and any injured parties can serve legal papers to motor carriers, brokers, or freight forwarders in any state where the registered entities operate.
The BOC-3 form must include all states for which process agent designations are required. If you fail to designate a process agent, FMCSA will deactivate your USDOT number. For existing carriers and exempt-for-hire carriers, enforcement is deferred until Dec. 31.
5. Pay your fees
It should come as no surprise that a new system brings a new fee schedule.
Effective Sept. 30, FMCSA will charge $300 US per registration type (including safety registration) for new applicants (including private motor carriers) and businesses whose USDOT registrations (including safety and/or operating authority) have been revoked. FMCSA charges an additional $10 reinstatement fee per request for suspended registrations.
A $300 fee will also be charged to businesses with existing registrations when they request an additional registration type. There is no fee for biennial updates or name/address/form of business changes.
For years, I never needed a roadmap to get around Calgary. Now I won’t leave my driveway without GPS. If you feel the same way about the URS, get some help. You don’t want to be not stuck in traffic, so to speak, when Sept. 30 rolls around.
Sandy Johnson has been managing IFTA, IRP, and other fleet taxes for more than 25 years. She operates FleetTaxPro.com, which provides vehicle tax and license compliance services for trucking operations ranging from single vehicles to large fleets. She can be reached at 1-877-860-8025 or FleetTaxPro.com.