Authority Types: Motor Carrier, Freight Forwarder, Broker
November 25, 2014
Author: Pat Brouilette, Sales Executive
There are three main types of authorities in the transportation industry that deal with moving freight from point A to point B. They are a motor carrier, broker, and freight forwarder. While a broker arranges for the freight to be moved, the motor carrier moves the freight and a freight forwarder stores, moves, and also arranges for the shippers. Yes, all of these involve freight and getting that freight to its’ final destination, but the means in which each entity does that and is involved is vastly different. Here are more detailed definitions of these three types:
- Motor Carrier: is compensated for transporting property or passengers.
- Broker: is compensated for arranging transportation of material goods by a motor carrier but does not take on responsibility of transporting the material goods
- Freight Forwarder: a company that holds itself out to the general public providing transportation of material goods for compensation and in the normal course of business:
- Puts together and combines, or provides for combining, shipments and performs break-bulk and distribution operations of freight
- Takes responsibility for transporting material goods from place of receipt to the place of shipment
- Transports via rail, motor, or water carrier, which is under the control of the FMCSA
Differences Between Entities
As seen by the definitions there are some differences between the three types of entities within the transportation industry. The biggest thing that differentiates the three is what their business description truly is. A motor carrier transports the goods from point A to point B, as stated for compensation, making them a for-hire company. The motor carrier will take responsibility of the property while it is in the custody of the motor carrier, which typically requires the motor carrier to obtain some sort of cargo insurance to cover the property in the event there is a loss.
A broker, however, does none of the transporting of the property. They are a for-hire entity and take compensation, but they are compensated by arranging the transportation of the property from point A to point B. Where they differ from a motor carrier is in the fact that they do not take any sort of responsibility for the property in transit from point A to point B.
A freight forwarder, on the other hand, does everything from storage to the shipping of the property on behalf of their shippers. Typically freight forwarders will ship property under their own bills of lading which holds them responsible for the property in transit, until it reaches the destination.
Appropriately Setting up each Entity
To appropriately set up each of the three entities, a 7 step process that must be followed. These 7 steps can be found on the FMCSA website at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/getting-started. Within the 7 step process each entity must fill out different paperwork, put in for their operating authority (MC Number), and obtain their USDOT number. The type of operating authority applied for will determine the level of insurance required by the federal government. The forms required along with other requirements for each operating authority are as follows:
- Motor Carrier—must fill out the OP-1 form (the application) and file the MCS-150 (motor carrier identification report). Once approved proof of public liability insurance must be filed to obtain the MC number.
- Broker—must fill out the OP-1 form and the MCS-150 as the motor carrier. Proof of public liability insurance or cargo insurance is not required, but a $75,000 bond posted on the FMCSA website is required before obtaining the MC number.
- Freight Forwarder—must fill out the OP-1 (FF) application. Once filled out and approved the freight forwarder must provide proof of public liability insurance and cargo insurance within 90 days of receiving their operating authority.
While these three types of authorities all provide transportation of freight, how they go about moving the freight is different. So, when applying for an authority, it is necessary to know what type of business entity you are ultimately looking to operate. This way the correct paperwork is filled out and submitted to the FMCSA and your insurance agent will be able to provide you with quotes/insurance for your business exposures.