What’s up with that new cab card?

by Sandy Johnson

If you renewed a prorate fleet this month, you’re in for a big change – for the better.

Any fleet with a registration year beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015, is subject to FRP (Full Reciprocity Plan) provisions under the International Registration Plan. The most obvious difference is that IRP cab cards now list all 59 member jurisdictions along with the proper registered gross weights for each of those jurisdictions.

Once your fees are paid, voila: your apportioned vehicles are approved to travel in any IRP jurisdiction during the licence year.

At first glance, though, it’s kind of confusing to see a cab card that lists states or provinces you don’t intend to go to. Are you paying fees to places where you’ll never travel? What if you operate in Canada only? Do you need a DOT number since all the US jurisdictions are on the cab card?

Let’s take a closer look at IRP, FRP, and what’s up with that new cab card.

More flexibility and precision

Existing fleets licensed under IRP will receive one cab card that gives operating rights in all IRP jurisdictions.

When you renew your registration, you pay only for the jurisdictions you travelled to during the previous registration year (July 1-June 30); fees are based on the actual distance accumulated during the distance-reporting period. This should eliminate guesswork on renewals and instead assess fees based on actual operations.

When a fleet is new or did not accumulate any actual distance during the distance-reporting period, fees are calculated using the base jurisdiction’s AVPD or “average per-vehicle distance” chart (which replaces the “estimated distance” chart). The APVD chart lists an apportioned percentage of distance for every other IRP jurisdiction.

Don’t mix actual distance and APVD distance. You’re either a renewing IRP fleet or you’re not.

But I don’t go there

If you’re based in Canada and operate only in Canada, you may question why you have US jurisdictions (or, for that matter, other Canadian jurisdictions) on the card. You may be wondering why, in the first year, you’re paying a portion of your licence fees to these jurisdictions.

The simplest explanation is that it’s the price of admission for participating in the program.

The tricky part for new “Canada only” carriers is that you’re paying a portion of these fees in US funds.

Yup, US jurisdictions get paid in US dollars. Even though you may never even put your big toe in the good old US-of-A, you have to pay fees to your home province in US dollars.

If there’s a saving grace, it’s that you’ll likely pay less to register your fleet under FRP than you would have under the old system.

I did a calculation for a new fleet running Alberta-B.C.-Saskatchewan based on the estimated-distance system. The fees were about $3,900. Under FRP, the total (even with the US dollar at $1.15) was $3,600.

This is hypothetical, of course, and individual results may vary. But as a new prorate fleet, your fees may actually be lower under FRP.

Tips to remember

FRP truly is intended to give you some operational flexibility and make it easier to do business outside of your home jurisdiction. Here are a few simple tips to remember when you register your fleet:

If you’re an existing carrier renewing your fleet this year, you will report actual distance accumulated during the distance-reporting period (July 1-June 30). “Report all actual distance” means all actual distance. Know the requirements and be precise.

If you’re a new fleet, you have no actual distance to report. Use your base jurisdiction’s APVD chart to determine your fees.

If you travel in Canada only, you do not need a DOT number. Just because there are US jurisdictions on your cab card doesn’t require you get a DOT number or pay HVUT.

With FRP taking effect this month, your base jurisdiction and the IRP web site (irponline.org) will post general information about the new procedures. Every fleet is unique, however. Talk to a qualified tax and license expert about how FRP will affect your specific operations.


Sandy Johnson is the founder and managing partner at North Star Fleet Solutions in Calgary. The company 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 northstarfleet.com.

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