FMCSA Unified Registration System launched, effective dates announced

By Sandi Soendker, Land Line editor-in-chief | 5/4/2016

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 register online, and eliminates the old MC number, FF or MX number. And all that is true.

Starting Sept. 30, this will be the means of getting a U.S. DOT number and registering your operating authority, adding or updating registration(s).

According to OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Scott Grenerth – “In one sentence, the URS is a single, online federal information system that businesses use to register and update their information” with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

It’s common to get URS mixed up with another registration program called UCR. Grenerth explains that the URS and the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) are not the same thing. They sound similar, but they are different.

“The URS is the FMCSA’s new online system,” says Grenerth. “It’s different from UCR, which is not part of the FMCSA. The UCR program 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 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 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 on financial responsibility and your BOC-3. It replaces multiple forms and the registration functions of several systems such as the Licensing and Insurance System and the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).

It is 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 potential reincarnated carriers.

FHWA first announced the plans for such a system back in 1996. When trucking got its own agency within the administration, the agency 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 Aug. 23, 2013.

URS requirements are being rolled out in a phased approach. The online registration application was available for first-time applicants on Dec. 12, 2015. All applicants will begin using URS for registrations and changes starting Sept. 30. Enforcement for existing “entities” is effective Dec. 31.

The requirement for electronic filing of the Form BOC-3, designation of process agent, comes into effect on Sept. 30. However, companies already registered with FMCSA as of that date will not be required to comply until Dec. 21.

According to the agency’s website, 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 brand new applications for registration received on or after Sept. 30 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 Sept. 30, applicants seeking reinstatement of a suspended registration must pay a reinstatement fee of $10 for each request for reinstatement after that date.

OOIDA’s Grenerth says there have been some changes to the schedule for the URS roll-out and advises carriers and regulated entities to get familiar with the outreach material and FAQs provided by FMCSA on its website. There’s also a printout version of a URS brochure, says Grenerth, and a glossary and a “need-to-know” flyer.

For more information on the URS or assistance, contact OOIDA’s Business Services/Permits and Licensing Department at 800-444-5791.

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