Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs

Below are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions regarding USDOT Compliance. Call 844-259-8960 today to speak with a Compliance Specialist with your specific question(s).

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Is an entity required to file a biennial update if there is no change to its information?

Yes. All entities with a USDOT number are required to file a biennial update every two years according to the prescribed schedule, by the last day of the month.

You can file a biennial update prior to the time that an update is due. FMCSA considers any update of an MCS-150 or MCS-150C that was completed by a motor carrier, Intermodal Equipment Provider (IEP), or carrier that has been issued a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP) at any time during the 12 months immediately preceding the biennial update due date to satisfy the biennial update requirement.

When am I required to file a biennial update?

The compliance date for this requirement (49 CFR 390.19) occurred November 1, 2013.

Filing schedule: Each motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider must file the appropriate form at the following times:

If your USDOT Number ends in:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 0

Must file by last day of:

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

If the next-to-last digit of its USDOT Number is odd, the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider shall file its update in every odd-numbered calendar year. If the next-to-last digit of the USDOT Number is even, the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider shall file its update in every even-numbered calendar year.

You can file a biennial update prior to the time that an update is due. FMCSA considers any update of an MCS-150 or MCS-150C that was completed by a motor carrier, Intermodal Equipment Provider (IEP), or carrier that has been issued a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP) at any time during the 12 months immediately preceding the biennial update due date to satisfy the biennial update requirement.

Will entities be notified before a biennial update is due?

Yes. Beginning November 1, 2013, FMCSA is issuing a warning letter by mail to the address on file at least 30 days in advance of a biennial update deadline.

Can I go into my local FMCSA Division office to update my USDOT number?

No, MCS 150 updates must be done either online, fax or by mail. You cannot make updates verbally over the telephone; a signed form is required. Biennial updates are processed immediately if done online, but updates filed by email, fax or mail may take three to four weeks to process.

How do the biennial update changes in the URS rule affect motor carriers, HMSP applicants/holders, and international equipment providers?

Very little. Motor carriers, Hazardous Materials Safety Permit applicants/holders and intermodal equipment providers are already required to update their registration information every 24 months according to the schedule under 49 CFR 390.19. However, as of November 1, 2013 these entities may be subject to new enforcement provisions intended to improve compliance with these updating requirements, including civil penalties and the deactivation of their USDOT Number.

What are the penalties for failure to submit the biennial updates?

Failure to complete biennial updates to FMCSA will subject the entities to civil penalties of up to $1,000 per day with a maximum penalty of $10,000. Certain for-hire carriers of passengers and freight, freight forwarders, and brokers may be subject to additional civil penalties as authorized by 49 U.S.C. 14901(a). FMCSA may also deactivate the USDOT Number for any entity that fails to comply with the updating requirements.

What is the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) and what information does it contain?

The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that gives employers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs), and State law enforcement personnel real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations.

The Clearinghouse contains records of violations of drug and alcohol prohibitions in 49 CFR Part 382, Subpart B, including positive drug or alcohol test results and test refusals. When a driver completes the return-to-duty (RTD) process and follow-up testing plan, this information is also recorded in the Clearinghouse.

How will State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) use the Clearinghouse?

SDLAs will be able to query the Clearinghouse prior to completing licensing transactions, such as the issuance, renewal, transfer, and upgrade of a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended the compliance date for the requirement established by the Clearinghouse final rule that States query the Clearinghouse before completing certain CDL transactions. The SDLAs’ mandatory compliance with this requirement, currently due to begin on January 6, 2020, is delayed until January 6, 2023.SDLAs currently have the option to voluntarily query the Clearinghouse.

Who is authorized to use the Clearinghouse?

Authorized users include:CDL driversEmployers – this includes motor carriers and other employers of drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP)Consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs)Medical review officers (MROs)Substance abuse professionals (SAPs)Enforcement personnel

  • - CDL drivers
  • - Employers – this includes motor carriers and other employers of drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP)
  • - Consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs)
  • - Medical review officers (MROs)
  • - Substance abuse professionals (SAPs)
  • - Enforcement personnel
How do I purchase a query plan?

Query plans may be purchased only on the FMCSA Clearinghouse website by registered employers. A consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) may not purchase a plan on behalf of an employer.

How do authorized users sign up to access the Clearinghouse?

Employers, drivers, medical review officers (MROs), substance abuse professionals (SAPs), and consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs) must register in the Clearinghouse to access the Clearinghouse.

Employers, C/TPAs, MROs, and SAPs can also invite users to complete required actions in the Clearinghouse on their behalf. These users would register as Clearinghouse Assistants.

How are employers and consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs) required to use the Clearinghouse?

The Clearinghouse is a centralized database that employers use to report drug and alcohol program violations and to conduct queries, which check that current or prospective employees are not prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), due to an unresolved drug and alcohol program violation—that is, a violation for which the driver has not completed the return-to-duty (RTD) process. Queries must be conducted as part of a pre-employment driver investigation, and at least annually for current employees.

In addition, employers may designate a C/TPA who can report violations and/or conduct queries on their behalf. An owner-operator—an employer that employs himself or herself as a CDL driver, typically a single-driver operation—must designate the C/TPA in the Clearinghouse.

To complete the actions outlined above, employers and C/TPAs are required to register in the Clearinghouse.

For which actions in the Clearinghouse are employers charged a fee?

Employers are charged a fee to conduct limited and full queries within the Clearinghouse. There are no fees for registration or other Clearinghouse activities.

Employers can purchase a query plan that fits their business needs. Learn more about the query plans.

What types of drivers and employers will the Clearinghouse affect?

All CDL drivers who operate CMVs on public roads and their employers and service agents. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • - Interstate and intrastate motor carriers, including passenger carriers
  • - School bus drivers
  • - Construction equipment operators
  • - Limousine drivers
  • - Municipal vehicle drivers (e.g., waste management vehicles)
  • - Federal and other organizations that employ drivers subject to FMCSA drug and alcohol testing regulations (e.g., Department of Defense, municipalities, school districts)
How do owner-operators meet their Clearinghouse obligations?

An owner-operator (an employer who employs himself or herself as a CDL driver, typically a single-driver operation) is subject to the requirements pertaining to employers as well as those pertaining to drivers. Under the Clearinghouse final rule, an employer who employs himself or herself as a CDL driver must designate a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) to comply with the employer’s Clearinghouse reporting requirements (§ 382.705(b)(6)).

How does the Clearinghouse impact employers of commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders?

The Clearinghouse offers employers a centralized location to query driver information and report drug and alcohol program violations incurred by their current and prospective employees holding CDLs and CLPs. The employer must use the Clearinghouse to:

  • - Conduct a full query of the Clearinghouse as part of each pre-employment driver investigation process.
  • - Conduct limited queries at least annually for every driver they employ.
  • - Request electronic consent from the driver for a full query, including pre-employment queries.
  • - Report drug and alcohol program violations.
  • - Record the negative return-to-duty (RTD) test results and the date of successful completion of a follow-up testing plan for any driver they employ with unresolved drug and alcohol program violations.