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What is the difference between intrastate and interstate authority?

Besides the words looking similar to one another, there are also key differences in what it means for owner operators to have interstate vs. intrastate authority, and what permits they would need to obtain for each of them.

To pick up power only intermodal trucking loads from the DrayNow app, you are required to have active motor carrier (MC) and DOT numbers, which gives you interstate operating authority. You may be wondering, “Why do I need interstate authority if DrayNow has all local loads on their load board app and I’m only looking to run within the state? Isn’t intrastate authority good enough?” It’s true that DrayNow offers all local intermodal trucking loads that aim to keep you close to home every night, but when it comes to authority, it doesn’t how short or long the distance is. It all has to do with the cargo that’s in the container.

Why does intermodal trucking require interstate authority?

When it comes to intermodal trucking, interstate authority is required because the cargo that is within the containers has been traveling in between states, commonly referred to as interstate commerce. Intrastate authority only covers cargo that originates and is delivered within the state, which is intrastate commerce. The cargo that’s in the container getting hauled could have originated anywhere that is accessible by rail or port, which is why there is a need to get that interstate authority.

“Short-haul” does not always necessary mean “intrastate” either. You could theoretically take an intermodal load 400 miles round trip and end up going through four states. In places like California, however, it is easy to find both short and longer mileage drayage loads that stay within the state borders, but if it originates from a rail yard or port, you’re going to need that interstate authority in order to comply with federal regulations.

How do I get interstate authority?

The process to obtain an MC number is an easy one, and takes just a few steps. For anyone who is applying for interstate authority for the first time, they will be using the Unified Registration System (URS) via the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). After completing all of those steps, the turnaround could be anywhere from 3-8 weeks, so it is important to get all of that information in and sent out a few weeks before you’re planning on operating under the new authority. And in California, do not forget that you also need to obtain a separate CA number to successfully register in the state.

It can be difficult to navigate what types of authority you need for which kind of trucking you’re doing, but at DrayNow we’re making it clear that the MC number that gives you interstate authority is needed to get you on the intermodal load board and hauling containers under your own authority.

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