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How does the Unified Carrier Registration affect a truck company?

Operating a truck or fleet of trucks requires the driver or truck company to comply with more than just traffic laws. They must be licensed for such operations, often in more than one state and pay a variety of corresponding fees, which are usually levied on a yearly basis. There are also minimum requirements that must be met in order for the carrier to qualify as a genuine transporter. In Montana, the definition of a commercial vehicle is a vehicle that can carry at least 10,000 pounds of cargo or 11 persons, including the driver. The vehicle also must be licensed in order to carry potentially harmful substances.

The licensing and fee payments are regulated by the Unified Carrier Registration program, which is a federal trucking regulation applicable to all operators who drive commercial vehicles across states. The program is run by the Licensing and Permitting Bureau and it provides a basis for computing licensing fees proportional to the number of vehicles operated by a company.

Truck operators who also operate in Canadian provinces may seek licensing under the International Registration Plan, which allows them to operate a truck or bus as an apportioned vehicle using a single license plate and cab card. However, they are still liable to pay fuel taxes and must comply with weight and size requirements as mandated by Canadian law. They also should verify that they fulfill local legal stipulations such as those related to base jurisdiction.

Another option for commercial carriers who either have a base of operations in Montana or do considerable business on Montana highways, as well as in nearby states and even Canadian provinces, is to get licensed under the International Fuel Tax Agreement. This simplifies how they report their payments of fuel use taxes across the continental 48 states and 10 Canadian provinces.

Source: Montana Department of Transportation, Motor Carrier Services Division, "2006 Montana Commercial Vehicle Size and Weight and Safety Trucker's Handbook", accessed Nov. 1, 2014

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