FMCSA to change transfer of operating authority process

Updated Sep 12, 2013

On Oct. 22, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will discontinue processing applications for transfers of operating authority and the associated $300 fee.

The agency will no longer accept applications for transfer of authority, issue transfer approvals or require the $300 related fee on that day. The FMCSA clarified the change Aug. 23 in a separate notice from the Unified Registration System Final Rule published the same day. 

In that notice, the agency discussed the new process and legal interpretation for transfers of authority registration by non-exempt for-hire motor carriers, property brokers and freight forwarders.  Operating authority registration as an asset of commercial value has “lost much of its relevance under today’s regulatory structure,” it wrote. 

Authority had been defined by restrictions on commodity and territory as well as service types, such as contract and common carrier operations. It could be transferred among disparate controlling interests, without disruption of regulatory oversight or changing registration numbers to reflect ownership change.

As regulations evolved, the FMCSA attempted to remove transfer regulations, but met with resistance from trucking. Industry leaders saw these applications as holding an institutionalized role in regulations. Stakeholders told the agency the transfer process minimized registration costs and contributed to federal oversight of carriers.

Still, authority now is defined by comprehensive service options without common and contract carrier service distinctions and territory restrictions. Pending implementation of the URS, the FMCSA continued the registration categories of contract and common carriers after a 1995 law eliminated these distinctions.

While the agency will no longer accept applications for transfers of authority, it will require both transferors and transferees to furnish basic information on business operations, ownership and control.

URS related changes will end the $300 transfer application fee as well as reduce certain paperwork costs unrelated to transfers. The cost of reinstating a revoked authority will drop from $80 to $10 and the $10 process agent fee will be eliminated.

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But the URS final rule adds a new $300 first-time registration fee for private and exempt for-hire motor carriers, cargo tank facilities, and intermodal equipment providers.

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