Original article written for Grizella LLC

February 13, 2017

FMCSA’s Unified Registration System (URS) began a phased launch in December 2015. New applicants since then have been required to use the new URS online-only application when requesting registration and their USDOT number because, as of January 2017 the FMCSA was no longer to be accepting applications in the form of paperwork or faxes.

The official implementation timeline would have taken transportation entities through spring of 2017. While January 14th was the original deadline for existing carriers to enter URS registration, FMCSA has officially, and indefinitely, suspended the unified registration rollout pending the completion of technology necessary for actually implementing URS.

Not to be confused with the similarly-named Unified Carrier Registration (UCR), URS is the FMCSA’s new regulation system. Where UCR is an agreement made by states and set up by Congress to collect and distribute regulation information and UCR fees carriers pay to support state MCSA activities, Unified Registration System operates at the federal level.

The intention is to streamline and simplify FMCSA’s registration process while providing a universal archive of information regarding entities regulated by the Agency. Perhaps more importantly, UCR comes with a fee. Unified registration costs nothing but time.

With roll-out deadlines past due, and a new timeline undefined, there is still much to look forward to and be prepared for.

URS promises to bring tangible change to the industry, especially for services like Transportation Management Systems and proprietary in-house systems that function with MC numbers. For one thing, under Unified Registration System, the provided USDOT number will be the only identifier assigned to entities seeking and maintaining registration–any other FMCSA-assigned numbers will no longer be used.

Clarity will be one of the most valuable benefits of a single identifier system.  In the current two number system, database integrity issues exist, a by-product of imperfect syncing between the two systems.  As an example, currently 2086 active carriers have two valid MC numbers paired with a single DOT number, and 74 carriers have three valid MC numbers paired with a single DOT number.  Unified registration will provide a single, clear record for each regulated entity.

Brokers and Carriers will continue to be required to update their MCS-150 form every two years in order to retain their active USDOT number in an effort to ensure consistent, up-to-date information from all of the entities under regulation.  Easier online access to update company information or for the biennial re-filing of the MCS-150 form means carriers will have a much easier chance at improving their CSA scores over time.

On the subject of positive change, FMCSA’s website estimates that URS has allowed them to remove 340,000 dormant USDOT numbers from their files based on who was filing their MCS-150 on time, screened 100% of operating authority applications for “reincarnated” carriers coming back under a different authority, and saved the industry approximately $1.6 million in processing costs in the first six months. Information is more current, paperwork is handled electronically and safety data updates often enough to salvage reputations in the short term.

FMCSA’s URS promises to be the end of a long process, bringing the transportation industry into a streamlined, better-organized future. Less clutter, cleaner information.