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FMCSA Publishes Final Rule for Unified Registration System

Tuesday, August 27, 2013  
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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a final Unified Registration System (URS) rule that will combine sixteen disparate forms that carriers, freight forwarders, brokers and other entities currently use to register and update their information with the agency into a single, electronic smart-form. The new system will increase efficiency by streamlining the registration process and enable FMCSA to maintain more accurate information on the entities we regulate. The streamlined web-based system will begin operating in 2015. At that time, all new applications and updates to existing records will be handled through the new system. To view the complete text of the final rule click here.


1. What is the Unified Registration System?

The Unified Registration System (URS) is a new electronic on-line registration system that will streamline and simplify the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) registration process and serve as a clearinghouse and depository of information on all entities regulated by the Agency, including motor carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, intermodal equipment providers (IEPs), hazardous materials safety permit (HMSP) applicants/holders, and cargo tank manufacturing and repair facilities. The URS will combine multiple registration processes, information technology systems and forms into a single, electronic online registration process.

2. Why did the FMCSA undertake the URS rulemaking?

FMCSA undertook this rulemaking to simplify and reduce the amount of time entities must spend filling out paperwork as part of the registration process as well as enable the Agency to maintain more accurate information on the entities subject to FMCSA’s jurisdiction.

Portions of this rule are also required by the ICC Termination Act of 1995 and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) included several provisions relevant to the new URS, but these provisions will be addressed in a separate rulemaking.

3. Who is required to comply with this rule?

This rule applies to all interstate motor carriers (private and for-hire motor carriers of passengers and freight), freight forwarders, brokers, IEPs, HMSP applicants/holders, and cargo tank manufacturing and repair facilities under FMCSA jurisdiction.

4. When does this rule go into effect?

There are two effective dates for this rule. On November 1, 2013, (1) the new enforcement provisions for failing to file biennial updates according to the schedule in 49 CFR 390.19(b)(2), and (2) a prohibition on operating with an inactive USDOT Number will take effect.

On October 23, 2015, the Agency will require all entities registering or providing information to the Agency to do so through the URS electronic online registration process.

5. Why are there two effective dates?

FMCSA set November 1, 2013 as the compliance date for the biennial update requirements because motor carriers are already required to update their registration information biennially under 49 CFR 390.19 and the information is very valuable to the Agency in carrying out its safety mission.

The October 23, 2015 effective date to comply with the remaining URS requirements is to provide sufficient time for the Agency to launch the new URS website.

6. What are the benefits of the new rule?

The new rule will streamline manual processes and combine several forms regulated entities are required to submit into one unified online registration process, thereby saving time and money for the industry and FMCSA. The Agency estimates that industry will see total savings of almost $9 million from time and fees over a ten year period.

This rule will also improve the ability for FMCSA to locate small and medium-sized private and exempt for-hire motor carriers for enforcement action, because investigators will be able to work with designated process agents to locate and/or serve documents on hard-to-find motor carriers.

7. What percentage of entities that currently only use paper forms will be affected by the URS rule and what options do they have to file electronically?

The Agency estimated in its Regulatory Impact Analysis that 16 percent of new registrations are submitted through paper applications. These entities without access to the internet may use third party processing agents, internet access at public libraries, and kiosks at trucks stops and travel centers, among other options.