Do I need operating authority for a tow truck business?

If you have a tow truck business or you’re planning on starting a towing business, you might be wondering about the federal regulations you need to adhere to. It’s important to be following the appropriate regulations. One question that might have crossed your mind is what operating authority is. That sounds intimidating, right? The FMCSA is the government agency responsible for overseeing commercial motor vehicles and safety, and you might be wondering if your tow truck business needs operating authority. We’ll explain what operating authority is and which kind of truck businesses need it.

What is operating authority?

Operating authority essentially the registration required by 49 USC 13902, 49 CFR Part 365, 49 CFR Part 368, and 49 CFR 392.9a. (This is also known as an MC, FF, or MX Number depending on what type of authority the trucking business has.) The type of business operation being run determines the type of authority they need, and the operating authority determines what kind of cargo the business can transport. The type of authority a business has also determines the level of insurance they have to carry. All in all, it’s an important thing to pay attention to.

We can help you save on your tow truck insurance.

Who is required to carry it?

Your next question might be whether your tow truck business needs operating authority. Generally speaking, the following types of truck businesses need interstate operating authority.

  • Businesses that are for-hire carriers who work for a fee or compensation.
  • Transporting passengers (including arranging for their transport) in interstate commerce.
  • Transporting federally regulated commodities interstate commerce, including arranging for their transport.

(Note that you may also need a USDOT Number. Again, it’s really important to make sure that you have the appropriate registration for your business.)

Now, the following types of truck businesses typically don’t need operating authority.

  • Private carriers who transport their own cargo.
  • “For-hire” carriers who ONLY transport exempt commodities that are not federally regulated.
  • Carriers that operate only in a federally declared “commercial zone” that is not subject to interstate authority rules.

How to get operating authority.

If you are a first-time applicant and you have never before registered with the FMCSA, you would have to go through the Unified Registration System. (Well, that’s if you don’t have a USDOT Number. If you have already been issued a USDOT Number, or if you’re applying for an additional authority, you can use the FMCSA’s legacy registration system.)

The nice thing is that if you apply for your authority through the URS, you’ll get a USDOT Number as well. So that’s convenient!

We can help you save on your tow truck insurance.

Anyways, that’s the scoop on what operating authority is and who needs it. It’s really important to have the proper registration. Tow truck businesses are in charge of some very hefty vehicles after all, and with very large vehicles come a lot of responsibility. And a part of having a healthy business is having the right insurance. We can help you get the insurance you need to protect your towing business. You can get started with your tow truck insurance quotes by filling out our online form, giving us a call, or messaging us on LiveChat.


Leave a Comment