U.S. registration fees still up in the air

WASHINGTON — As 2009 winds down, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has yet to finalize the fee structure for the Unified Carrier Registration Agreement for 2010, which could put enforcement on hiatus.

In September, the FMCSA initiated a rulemaking indicating substantial increases in UCR fees for 2010, but as carriers wait to know how big of a cheque they’ll need to write in order to clear up their fees, nothing has been officially posted in the Federal Register.

Ideally they need time to pay the 2010 fees prior to sending trucks out on Jan. 1. If fees are late getting established, the UCR program may be forced to offer a grace period in 2010 before states begin enforcement efforts.

Carriers are encouraged to keep proof of payment for 2009 fees handy. The proposed revamped fee structure is as follows:

Number of Trucks         Current Annual UCR Fee           Proposed Fee for 2010
0 – 2                                      $ 39                                                 $ 87
3 – 5                                      $ 116                                               $ 258
6 – 20                                    $ 231                                               $ 514
21 – 100                               $ 806                                               $ 1,793
101 – 1,000                         $ 3,840                                            $ 8,541
1,001 or more                    $37,500                                           $ 83,412

Another significant change in the 2010 fee structure is that an operator’s size will be based on power units only. Trailers were counted in past years, but are now eliminated from the definition. This will reduce many motor carriers’ fleet sizes, causing some to pay annual fees at a lower bracket.

The UCR program requires that all motor carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, and leasing companies who operate in interstate or international commerce must pay an annual fee.

UCR fees have fallen short of targets for each of the past three years. In February 2009, the UCR Revenues and Fees Subcommittee reported that $74 million was collected in 2007 when the 33 participating states had set a target of $107 million. A total of $75 million was collected in 2008 and $67 million in 2009 when 41 participating states had set a target of $113 million for each of those years.

The target revenue for 2010 is again projected to be $113 million.

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