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New DOT Registration System for Motor Carriers, Forwarders, Others

Friday, August 23, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a final rule that will require interstate motor carriers, freight forwarders, brokers, intermodal equipment providers, hazardous materials safety permit applicants, and cargo tank facilities under FMCSA jurisdiction to submit required registration and biennial update information via a new online Unified Registration System. The URS will consolidate the DOT identification number system, the 49 USC chapter 139 commercial registration system, the 49 USC 13906 financial responsibility information system, and the service of process agent designation system.

Fees. This final rule revises the user fees for URS registration, insurance filings and other services. A $300 fee will be charged for all entities filing new registration applications, whereas currently only non-exempt for-hire motor carriers, property brokers and freight forwarders must pay this fee. However, it appears likely that this fee will be increased later because FMCSA has determined that the $300 fee will be insufficient to generate the amount needed to cover the costs associated with processing the registration filings. FMCSA is also reducing the fee for reinstating a revoked operating authority registration from $80 to $10, eliminating the $10 process agent designation filing fee, and maintaining the $10 fee for filings related to financial responsibility.

Evidence of Financial Responsibility. This final rule expands the requirement to file evidence of financial responsibility to receive DOT registration to all for-hire motor carriers and private motor carriers that transport hazardous materials in interstate commerce. In addition, such filings will have to be made electronically.

Filings of evidence of financial responsibility for new applicants must be completed within 90 days of the date an application is submitted or the date the notice of application is published in the FMCSA Register if a carrier is also seeking operating authority registration. No grace period for existing exempt for-hire motor carriers or private motor carriers hauling hazmat is being provided.

Insurers, surety companies and financial institutions will have to convert to a Web-based format when electronically filing evidence of financial responsibility and FMCSA will no longer accept paper filings or electronic (ASCII) filings.

Designation of Process Agents. This rule extends the requirement to designate process agents via electronic submission as a precondition for receiving DOT registration and/or operating authority registration to all for-hire and private motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders. New designation of process agents filings must be completed within 90 days of the date an application is submitted or the date the notice of the application is published in the FMCSA Register if a carrier is also seeking operating authority registration. However, to accommodate the anticipated high volume of new filings by existing private and exempt for-hire motor carriers, there will be a 180-day grace period (starting from the final rule compliance date) for such entities to file.

This rule also makes various revisions to the designation of process agent regulations to provide greater certainty that such designations are accurate and that process agents are able to receive and serve on their client principals notices in court or administrative proceedings against regulated entities.

Effective Date. This final rule will be effective as of Oct. 23, 2015, except that two requirements will take effect Nov. 1, 2013, and another will not enter into force until April 25, 2016. Petitions for reconsideration of this rule must be received no later than Sept. 23.

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