Starting September 30, the FMCSA will finally adopt a new online system which will be the means of getting a U.S. DOT number, registering your operating authority, and/or adding or updating your registration. If you own a trucking business, you’ve probably been hearing about the URS, or Unified Registration System, for years. You’ve probably heard it’s a new registration system that does away with a lot of paperwork, requires regulated trucking businesses to register online, and eliminates the old MC number, FF and MX number. And all of that is true. The URS will now be your single, online federal information system that businesses use to register and update their information with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
It’s common to get URS mixed up with another program called UCR. The URS and the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) are not the same thing. They sound similar, but they are different. The UCR is not part of the FMCSA – it is a federally mandated annual state-administered registration program. The UCR’s sole purpose is, well, to just collect money from trucking entities and distribute it to participating states.
The new URS rule applies to all interstate motor carriers (including private and for-hire passenger and property motor carriers), freight forwarders, brokers, intermodal equipment providers (IEPs), hazardous materials safety permit (HMSP) applicants/holders, and cargo tank manufacturing and repair facilities under the FMCSA’s jurisdiction. Mexican-domiciled carriers conducting long-haul operations are exempt.
The URS will require online registration for all filers, will use only the U.S. DOT number as a sole identifier, will impose a new fee schedule, and will keep a record of financial responsibility and your BOC-3. It replaces multiple forms and the registration functions of several systems including the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) and the Licensing and Insurance System. It was designed to simplify the process of registering, to reduce paperwork and errors, and to make it possible to electronically screen all applications to identify high-risk carriers, including reincarnated carriers.
FHWA first announced the plans for such a system back in 1996. When trucking got its own agency within the federal administration, it inherited the task of developing the URS plan. Through the years, it’s been a rough path, but FMCSA issued the Final Rule for the Unified Registration System on August 23, 2013. URS requirements are being rolled out in a phased approach. The online registration application was available for first-time applicants on December 12, 2015. All applicants will begin using URS for registration and changes starting next month, on September 30, 2016. Enforcement for existing “entities” is effective December 31.
The requirement for electronic filing of the Form BOC-3, designation of process agent, goes into effect on September 30, however, companies already registered with FMCSA as of that date will not be required to comply until December 31, 2016. According to the agency’s website (www.fmcsa.dot.gov), the FMCSA will also begin issuing a separate and distinct safety registration, consistent with the URS Final Rule and new statutory requirements. Existing registered carriers with an active U.S. DOT number (who are not under an operations out-of-service order or who have not had their operating authority registration revoked) will hold safety registration when the URS is fully implemented.
All new applications for registration received on or after September 30, 2016 will incur a $300 registration fee for each distinct registration type – including safety registration – and each requested operating authority registration. A new application for registration and fees will be required if an applicant’s registration has been revoked (but the applicant will retain the same U.S. DOT number). No fees will be required for businesses that are already registered and are simply filing a biennial update or a name/address/form of business change.
After September 30, applicants seeking reinstatement of a suspended registration must pay a reinstatement fee of $10 for each request for reinstatement after that date. There have been some changes to the schedule for the URS roll-out and NTA advises carriers and regulated entities to get familiar with the outreach material and FAQs provided by the FMCSA on their website. There’s also a printout version of a URS brochure, a glossary and a “need-to-know” flyer.
LOADING AND UNLOADING DELAYS
Finally, the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General has initiated an audit of commercial motor vehicle loading and unloading delays in response to provisions of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act highway bill, which became law late last year. The DOT Inspector General (IG) said that the FAST Act directs the FMCSA to issue regulations on collecting data on loading and unloading delays. The law also directs DOT to report on the impact of loading and unloading delays in areas such as the economy and efficiency of the transportation system.
“Accordingly, we are initiating this audit,” said DOT IG in a statement issued June 16. “Our objectives will be to (1) assess available data on motor carrier loading and unloading delays, and (2) provide information on measuring the potential effects of loading and unloading delays.” DOT noted that while hours-of-service regulations limit the number of hours a driver can work per day to 14 hours, “Delays at shipping and receiving facilities during cargo loading and unloading may result in travel delays and lost wages for drivers. Commercial truck drivers who experience these delays may then drive faster to make their deliveries within hours-of-service limits or operate beyond these limits and improperly log their driving time, thus increasing the risk of crashes and fatalities.”