Once you get your USDOT number, there are certain compliances you are responsible for. One of the first requirements you must know is when your official biennial update is due and complete it within the proper time frame. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandates that all commercial motor carriers governed by the Department of Transportation must update their business information every two years as dictated by the last two digits of their USDOT number. This is also true even if your business has remained the same regarding its operations, the number of vehicles or drivers in your fleet, or any other aspect of your business.
For example, suppose you are a trucking company and decide to stop operating as an interstate carrier. You want to change your operation from an interstate carrier to an intrastate carrier. In that case, the FMCSA requires you to submit an update by filing what is known as an “Edit” using the MCS-150 form. However, suppose you continue operating as an interstate carrier, and no changes have occurred since your last update. In that case, you are STILL required to submit your official biennial update as dictated by the last two digits of your USDOT number.
- THE MCS-150 FORM – WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IT
The MCS-150 form, also known as the Motor Carrier Identification Report form, is essential for notifying the FMCSA of any changes to your company’s operation, and you must fill it out according to the FMCSA guidelines. This form is the ONLY way of notifying the FMCSA of what type of business operation you have (Motor Carrier, Broker, Shipper, Freight Forwarder, or Cargo Tank Facility) or for any changes to your business, including deactivating your number. The information you provide is how the FMCSA monitors and enforces compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) that govern safety and financial responsibility.
The best way to do that is to have your compliance specialist fill it out for you because even the simplest mistake could cause the FMCSA to reject your form.
- ACCURACY IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE
While filling out your MCS-150 form, you must make sure that the information submitted by you is 100% accurate and current. If you fail to do so, it will have a negative impact on your account. Everyone with a USDOT number is required to file their biennial update every two years. You can always reach out to your DOT Compliance Group compliance specialist with any questions or concerns you may have. Your representative will fill out the form for you. They will also send you reminders as needed.
Common reasons for filing and “Edit” throughout the year could be for the following reasons:
- Adding or removing a truck from your fleet
- Adding or removing a driver
- Deciding to change the name of your company
- Changing the address of your company
- Any changes to your company operations
- Restructuring your business
- PENALTIES FOR A VIOLATION
Let’s face it, talking about fines and penalties for non-compliance will never rank at the top of anyone’s list as the most enjoyable topic to discuss; however, it is crucial to know and understand. Keep in mind that being a part of the commercial transportation industry means you will always be subject to penalties or fines if you fail to meet the requirements laid down by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, especially regarding USDOT compliances. If you do not complete your biennial update in time, the FMCSA will deactivate your number. You might also have to pay a fine of $1,000 per day, not to exceed a maximum of $10,000. So, filing your biennial update correctly and on time is crucial.
- WHEN AND HOW TO FILE YOUR BIENNIAL UPDATE
You need to know a few things before you file your official biennial update. I previously mentioned that your official update is determined based on the last two digits of your USDOT number. Let me explain further. The last digit of your USDOT number tells you the month you should file. If the last digit of your USDOT number is three, you will file in March, the 3rd month of the year. (7= July, 0= October, etc.). The second to last digit tells you if you will file in an even or odd-numbered year. If the digit is an odd number, you file in odd-numbered years (2023, 2025, etc.), and if the digit is an even number, you file in even-numbered years (2024, 2026, etc.). For example, if the last two digits of your USDOT number were “38,” you would file your official biennial update within August in odd-numbered years. At the time of this post, it is 2023, so you would file your biennial update in August of 2023.
- KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BIENNIAL UPDATE AND AN EDIT
It is important to know that when it comes to filing your official biennial update, you must do it within the month and year due as dictated by the last two digits of your USDOT number. This filing is one of the few times taking care of something early is not necessarily good. Filing early (outside your filing month and year) is considered an “Edit.” Filing outside your prescribed biennial update month and year is always considered an edit. For example, let’s say you correctly submitted your official biennial update, and six months later, you bought two more CMVs. In that case, you must submit another updated form or “Edit” to reflect the changes. Any changes that occur throughout the year require an update within 30 days of the change taking place. Do not wait for the next biennial update to become due. Doing so will put you at risk for fines and penalties.
DOT Compliance Group can take care of your compliance needs. They will focus on your compliance so you can focus on running your business. Why go it alone when you don’t have to?