MCS-150 Form: Everything Trucking Companies Need to Know


Any manager of a trucking company knows that documentation is a vital part of the industry. You need to maintain current documentation of your drivers’ license, proof of registration for each truck in your fleet, and up-to-date state business registration, too. These are just a few of the many documents that are required to operate a trucking company, and if you happen to overlook one of them, you could be slapped with a major fine from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). One of the most important documents of all is the MCS-150 Form. This document, which is also known as the Motor Carrier Identification Report, is required for all trucking companies that conduct interstate commerce. Read on to learn why it’s so vital and how you can keep yours current.

Requirements for an MCS-150 Form

The MCS-150 Form is required by FMCSA for all carriers who cross state lines. Despite this widespread requirement, though, many truckers still wonder — how do I fill out an MCS-150 form? Although the document is intended to be straightforward, it can be confusing at times. In order to understand how to complete it, you should first understand the purpose it serves.

Obtaining a USDOT Number

Prior to December 12, 2015, the MCS-150 Form was used to grant new carriers an identification number from the U.S. Department of Transportation. This number — referred to as a company’s USDOT number — was then used to register with FMCSA. After this date, however, all new applicants must instead get their USDOT number through the Unified Registration System.

Any trucking company that registered prior to this change should still use the MCS-150 Form to update their USDOT number. A USDOT number must be updated if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • It has been two years since the company last filed an MCS-150 Form
  • The company no longer engages in interstate commerce or transit
  • There have been changes to the structure of the company, addresses, phone numbers, etc.

In any of these scenarios, the MCS-150 Form can be filed online or submitted via mail.

Obtaining Interstate Operating Authority

A Form MCS-150 can also be used to apply for Interstate Operating Authority. Whether a trucking company is required to obtain this approval depends on the information contained in their Form MCS-150. If it is required, then a carrier must submit additional documentation to gain Interstate Operating Authority. This will allow the carrier to obtain an  “MC” number in addition to its USDOT number. Both are required to conduct interstate commerce.

When You Need to Update Your MCS-150 Form

Just like truck insurance, you want to make sure that your Form MCS-150 never lapses. Unlike truck insurance, an MCS-150 Form cannot be easily reinstated. Carriers who fail to update this document will have their USDOT number suspended. You’ll also be subject to fines of $1,000 per day or up to $10,000 total. Ensure you avoid these penalties by updating your form in any of the following three circumstances.

You No Longer Offer Interstate Transit

One of the primary purposes of the MCS-150 Form is to track carriers engaging in interstate commerce. If this no longer applies to your trucking company, you should consider updating the MCS-150 by filing either a voluntary revocation of your MC authority or inform the FMCSA by selecting “Out of Business Notification” in the form’s “Reason for Filing” field.

Your Business Has Changed

If your trucking company has undergone a major change — for example, the addition or removal of trucks from its fleet — you need to file the MCS-150 Form in order to document these changes, too. Other reasons to file an updated MCS-150 Form include a change to your business’ name or any other significant alterations. When you file to indicate changes, your “Reason for Filing” should be “Biennial Update or Changes.”

Every Two Years

If neither of the aforementioned criteria applies to you, you must still update your MCS-150 Form every 2 years. To do this, simply fill out the form and choose “Biennial Update or Changes” as your “Reason for Filing.”

How an MCS-150 Form Is Used

The MCS-150 is the basic description of your operation to the USDOT. This form helps the FMCSA track several important metrics relating to carriers and describes, in general, their business operations.

Calculating Safety Scores

Unfortunately, some trucking companies neglect to update their MCS-150 Form when there are major changes to the company. They may put it off until their biannual update is due. Keeping the form up-to-date is imperative, though, because the data associated with the DOT # is used to calculate safety scores for each carrier. These scores are based on a company’s safety track record, compliance with regulations, and measurement of accountability. Failure to submit an update can compromise your DOT  and lead to disciplinary action from the DOT or FMCSA.

Tracking Carriers’ Mileage

Another important function of the MCS-150 Form is tracking carriers’ cumulative mileage. This helps to accurately calculate the aforementioned safety scores, and it also provides the FMCSA with valuable data for statistics and programs. What mileage do you put on MCS-150? A carrier should use the combined annual mileage from all commercial vehicles in its fleet and round the number to the closest 10,000. This number will be used to determine a carrier’s safety liability and determine whether an intervention may be necessary.

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