Skip to main content

As most professionals in the freight business are already aware, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been implementing a Unified Registration System (URS) since 2015. It was bound to enact the second phase of the new system this September, but the deadline has been postponed.

The idea behind the URS is to unify all data about the entities whose activities are regulated by the FMCSA. In this way, the registration process for businesses would get easier and smoother.

The first stage of rolling out the URS was already executed in December 2015. Since then, all new registrations are conducted via the new system. The second phase was supposed to be launched in September 2016, but instead will start in 2017.

Let’s look at the details behind the URS and why the change of deadlines is taking place.

What the Unified Registration System is all about

The purpose of the Unified Registration System is to replace the requirement for obtaining an MC, FF and USDOT number with a single registration system for all types of licenses issued by the FMCSA.

The move towards the new system came largely as an answer to the dissatisfaction of businesses who found the old process unnecessarily burdensome. Applications will no longer be accepted in paper form, as the whole application process will be moved online. By having a single place with all relevant data, the FMCSA will have a better overview and control over licensees. The old system was in place for 18 years.

More than 20 different registration system will be combined in the new URS. To make the transition process smoother, the FMCSA has decided to split it into three phases – for new applicants, for current licensees and for private and exempt carriers.

The first phase of the URS was enacted at the end of 2015. As of December 12, all new applicants have applied for a URS number instead of the old options for registration.

In the next 10 years, the new system is expected to bring savings of more than $9 million for the freight industry.

The new deadline for Unified Registration System’s second phase

As for existing licensees already in business, the second phase of the URS was supposed to be rolled out on September 30, 2016.

However, since the change that the FMCSA needs to enact is significant and the information that needs to be processed is enormous, it will be postponed for January 14, 2017. The date for the second phase has already been postponed a few times because of these reasons. 

This means that freight brokers, carriers and forwarders who are currently in operation have a few more months to prepare for the change. According to the FMCSA, only 16% of applications are submitted on paper. For freight professionals who are among these applicants, this gives enough time to adapt to the new rules and potentially look for a third party processing agent to assist you in the process.

The third phase will be rolled out as of April 14, 2017, which affects private and exempt carriers. 

What the URS means for freight businesses

The URS is designed to make the licensing and controlling processes conducted by the FMCSA easier and lighter for freight businesses. It will decrease the volume of paperwork that licensees need to take care of, which means less administrative burden. Processing errors should also be reduced as a result of the new system.

It is not yet clear whether there will be other changes for current freight brokers, carriers and forwarders. The licensing fee of $300 might be increased, as has been suggested by the FMCSA. However, the freight broker surety bond requirement is likely to remain at $75,000, as it was increased from $10,000 back in 2013.

What are your thoughts on FMCSA’s new Unified Registration System? If you are already using it, what are your impressions? Please share your insights in the comments below.

Todd Bryant is the president and founder of Bryant Surety Bonds. He is a surety bonds expert with years of experience in helping freight brokers get bonded and start their business.