Attention: Your MC number is up

by Sandy Johnson

For years, the MC number has been a useful way to identify carriers with interstate operating authority in the United States. It allows you (and shippers and brokers) to search online and view details about insurance and legal authority.

It’s been a pretty good system and we’re all used to it. So, naturally, it’s being phased out. As part of the new Unified Registration System (URS), the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Administration is eliminating the use of MC numbers in its registration database and will instead identify carriers solely by their USDOT number. 

MX and FF numbers will get a similar treatment.

Why the change?

Introduced in 2013, the URS is designed to streamline and simplify the registration process and serve as a clearinghouse of information on all entities regulated by FMCSA, including motor carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, intermodal equipment providers, hazmat safety permit holders, and cargo tank manufacturing and repair facilities.

The main benefit is that the URS will consolidate several different registration processes, including the USDOT ID number system and financial responsibility information system, into a single electronic “smart form” called a Form MCSA-1. This is the form for making new registrations, updating records, and recording transfers of operating authority registration.

Biennial updates

The success of the database depends on current, accurate information.

Motor carriers are already required to update registration information biennially under 49 CFR 390.19. The new rule extends this requirement to all FMCSA-regulated entities (including brokers and freight forwarders).

If the next-to-last digit of your USDOT number is odd, you have to file your update in every odd-numbered calendar year. If the next-to-last digit of your USDOT number is even, you have to file your update in every even-numbered calendar year. The last digit of the USDOT number is the month you have to renew. The number 1 is January, 0 is October. There are no renewals in November or December. You also have to make updates within 30 days of any change to your legal name, form of business, or address. However, such changes do not relieve you of having to comply with the biennial update requirement. If you fail to complete a biennial update, your USDOT number will be deactivated.


Like any new rule, there are misconceptions about the URS to watch out for. Here are a few:

MYTH: I have to remove MC numbers from my trucks.

You are not required to remove obsolete MC numbers from your vehicles but you should omit them from new or repainted vehicles.

MYTH: My truck will be put out-of-service if I don’t do a biennial update.

Biennial updates are not part of CVSA out-of-service criteria. However, failing to complete the biennial update will result in a roadside citation.

MYTH: Biennial updates cost money.

There will be a US$300 fee for new USDOT applicants, but no fees for biennial updates.

MYTH: URS and UCR are the same thing.

The URS and Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) are not the same thing. The UCR is a state-based registration system enacted August 10, 2005, to replace the Single State Registration System (SSRS).

MYTH: I can’t file electronically.

The FMCSA says yes, you can. If you don’t have internet access, the FMCSA suggests using “third-party processing agents, public libraries, and kiosks at trucks stops and travel centers, among other options.”  Electronic filing is mandatory.

Delayed implementation

The FMCSA was scheduled to launch the URS on October 23 but says it needs more time make sure the system is working right.

A new implementation date should be in place by the time you read this.  When that day comes, it’s hammer time for MC numbers. No more MX or FF numbers, either. Everyone gets a USDOT number as their sole identifier. 


Sandy Johnson has been managing IFTA, IRP, and other fleet taxes for more than 25 years. She operates, which provides vehicle tax and license compliance services for trucking operations ranging from single vehicles to large fleets. She can be reached at 877-860-8025 or

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.