Your MCS-150: Keep it Current
Written by Vicky Hart, J. J. Keller Editor – Transport Operations
Your US DOT number is the unique identifier for your company. The form filed to obtain a US DOT number is the MCS-150, Motor Carrier Identification Report. As the name suggests, the MCS-150 asks for specific information about your motor carrier operation. The information you list on your MCS-150 provides the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with the details of your operation.
Regulation requires MCS-150 information to be updated every two years, based on a schedule in §390.19 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). In the past, many carriers received their US DOT number, and didn't go back to update their information. There were few consequences for this practice until the FMCSA began using a new safety measuring system. Today, old or incorrect MCS-150 information can have serious consequences for your business.
CSA scores depend on MCS-150 information
The FMCSA has implemented their new safety measurement system, Compliance, Safety, Accountability, referred to as CSA. Because of this change, updating your MCS-150 information has become critically important to your business. The information you provide on your MCS-150 is used to calculate your safety performance within CSA's Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories, commonly referred to as BASICs. Inaccurate information can seriously impact your safety performance scores.
For example, incorrectly designating your company as a passenger or hazardous materials carrier on the MCS-150 subjects your company to the higher compliance thresholds set for those carriers. It is important to correctly designate exactly what type of carrier you are, and only include categories that apply to your operation.
The section on/in the MCS-150 asking for carrier mileage has often been left blank by motor carriers in the past. However, CSA calculations use mileage data in their calculations for the unsafe driving and crash basics, and under reported miles can lead to higher CSA scores. You should always enter the total mileage accrued by the commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) used in your company's operation for the last calendar year, rounded to the nearest 10,000 miles. The only time you should leave this question blank is if you did not operate any CMVs during the previous year.
Under-reporting the number of vehicles you operate also directly affects your CSA Unsafe Driving and Crash Basics. This information, along with mileage, is used to "normalize" the data when calculating your basic measures; these measures are used by CSA to compare your company with other similar carriers. Under reporting the number of vehicles you operate will result in higher CSA scores. When listing all CMVs used in your operation, include non-CMVs such as pick-up trucks that that become CMVs when pulling a trailer.
The MCS-150B should only be filed if you transport the specific type and quantity of hazardous materials listed in §385.403 requiring the FMCSA Safety Permit. There is no easy way to change this filing, and your CSA scores will be based upon the higher hazardous materials compliance threshold that applies to any carrier transporting hazardous materials. A single carrier entity should never file both the MCS-150 and the MCS-150B. Only one form should be filed.
Keep in mind that nothing prohibits carriers from updating their information whenever necessary; if you encounter changes in your organization that affects your MCS-150 or MCS-150B information it is a good business practice to immediately update your information.
Where to update your MCS-150
A downloadable copy of the MCS-150, with instructions, is available at www.fmcsa.dot.gov under the Registration & Licensing tab. The instructions offer explanations and it is often helpful to review them before actually updating your information.
You may submit your MCS-150 electronically or by mail. The FMCSA strongly recommends electronic filing. Changes generally appear by the next day. Your updated information will be included in CSA calculations following the next CSA data upload, usually around the 25th of each month. To file electronically, go to http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/online-registration.
Record your Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access your data for future updates. If you don't have a PIN, you may ask the FMCSA to send you one. You will also need a credit card to verify the transaction. There will be no charge to your credit card; it is used for electronic signature purposes only.
Carriers without internet access may file by mail. This method is far slower; Mailed applications take from four to six weeks to process.
Using the "company snapshot" function at www.safersys.org allows you to access and view your current information. If you have interstate operating authority, the "Licensing & Insurance" link allows you to access your authority and insurance information to verify it is correctly recorded.
On the same page, you will see an "SMS" or Safety Measurement System link which provides an assessment of your on-road performance and investigation results within the BASICs. Assessments cover 24 months of activity and results are updated monthly. Reviewing this information regularly is a good business practice and keeps you aware of how your company is doing.
Whether you are submitting an initial MCS-150, or updating your information, keep in mind that accuracy is critical to ensure your CSA scores are correctly calculated. It is a good business practice to review your MCS-150 profile to make sure the information is current and up to date. Inaccurate MCS-150 information could make your operation subject to an intervention that isn't warranted.