J. J. Keller® Compliance Network Logo
Start Customizing Your Profile for Free!
Update to Professional Trial!

Experience Everything Compliance Network Has to Offer

Already have an account?
Thank you for investing in EnvironmentalHazmat related content. Click 'UPGRADE' to continue.
Enjoy your limited-time access to the Compliance Network Professional Trial!
A confirmation welcome email has been sent to your email address from ComplianceNetwork@t.jjkellercompliancenetwork.com. Please check your spam/junk folder if you can't find it in your inbox.
Thank you for your interest in EnvironmentalHazmat related content.
You've reached your limit of free access, if you'd like more info, please contact us at 800-327-6868.
Unified Carrier Registration (UCR)
  • The Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Act is part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act, A Legacy for Users ("SAFETEA-LU").
  • The Unified Carrier Registration Association (UCRA) fees are not imposed per vehicle and are uniform across the country for all entities of a given size, no matter where they are based.
  • Annual UCR registration applies to the following entities engaged in interstate or international commerce: Private and for-hire property carriers, exempt commodity carriers, for-hire passenger carriers, freight forwarders, leasing companies, brokers.

Interstate for-hire carriers have a long history of paying fees to the states for the "authority" to conduct operations in the states. At one time it was the "bingo stamp" program which required for-hire carriers to buy a stamp for their "bingo card" from each state of operation. That was eventually replaced by the Single State Registration System (SSRS) which eliminated the need to go to each state individually to purchase the stamp/credential. Instead, for-hire carriers could apply to and pay their base state a per vehicle fee for each state of operation. The base state distributed the fees to the other states and issued the vehicle a cab card listing the states for which fees had been paid. The cab cards were vehicle-specific, and the original cab card had to be in the vehicle.

The ICC Termination Act of 1995 directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to streamline a number of existing registration systems, including the SSRS. Congress also mandated that the fees collected under the new system provide as much revenue to the states as they received under the SSRS in 1995.

UCR legislation

On August 10, 2005, the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Act was enacted as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act, A Legacy for Users ("SAFETEA-LU").

In the UCR Act, Congress extended the registration requirement by including interstate private property and exempt carriers as well as for-hire property and passenger carriers, and included non-carrier entities such as leasing companies, freight forwarders, and brokers, in an effort to spread the cost across more entities and level the regulatory playing field.

UCR implementation

The UCR Act outlined the basic framework for the UCR Agreement and the methods to be used to collect and administer fees.

The Act also provided for a Board of Directors to administer the agreement and make decisions necessary to implement the UCR. The 15-member Board consists of representatives from the U.S. DOT, the participating states, and the motor carrier industry. Notice of Board meetings are published in the Federal Register and are open to the public.

Initial UCR registration was implemented on September 10, 2007.

The UCR registration period for the upcoming registration year runs from October 1 to December 31 of each year.

UCR registration compliance

Annual UCR registration applies to the following entities engaged in interstate or international commerce:

  • Private and for-hire property carriers
  • Exempt commodity carriers
  • For-hire passenger carriers
  • Freight forwarders
  • Leasing companies
  • Brokers

Entities based in and/or operating in non-participating states are required to select a base state and register.

Entities domiciled in Canada or Mexico operating in the United States are also required to comply with UCR registration.

Two types of entities are not subject to UCR registration:

  • Motor private carriers transporting passengers in interstate commerce (e.g., church buses) are not required to register under UCR.
  • Purely intrastate carriers, that is, those that do not handle interstate freight or make interstate movements, (unless the State has elected to apply the provisions of the UCR Agreement to such intrastate carriers).

UCR fees

The Unified Carrier Registration Association (UCRA) fee structure is a bracket system, with the per-carrier fees based on the number of vehicles the carrier operates. UCRA fees are not imposed per vehicle and are uniform across the country for all entities of a given size, no matter where they are based.

Freight forwarders operating a fleet of vehicles are considered motor carriers and are subject to fees depending upon the number of vehicles they operate.

Brokers, leasing companies, and freight forwarders (who do not operate any commercial motor vehicles) are subject to the lowest fee tier. However, if these entities are also motor carriers, they are subject to the fee according to the number of vehicles they operate.

Where to register

The UCR Board of Directors has established a National UCR System, hosted by the state of Indiana at www.ucr.in.gov. This site is the official filing site. Anyone required to file under the UCR Agreement may use this national web-based system. The site provides application forms, instructions, frequently asked questions, UCR procedures, and contact information for participating states.

Applications may also be submitted to the base state for processing, if applicable.

Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) definition of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)

The UCR definition of a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) is found in 49 USC 31101:

Commercial motor vehicle means a self-propelled or towed vehicle used on the highways in commerce principally to transport passengers or cargo, if the vehicle:

  1. Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds, whichever is greater;
  2. Is designed to transport more than 10 passengers, including the driver; or
  3. Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under section 5103 of this title and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under section 5103.

For the 2007, 2008, and 2009 registration years, both power units and trailers were counted for UCR.

Beginning December 31, 2009, the definition refers to self-propelled vehicles only. Trailers will not be included in the vehicle count.

Calculating fleet size

The UCR allows the option of using:

  1. The number of vehicles listed on the most recent MCS-150 update, or
  2. The number of commercial motor vehicles owned or operated for the 12-month period ending June 30 of the year immediately prior to the year for which the UCR registration is made.

When a registrant's number of vehicles reported for UCR registration is less than the number shown on the MCS-150, the state can ask for documentation or evidence of the discrepancy before issuing the UCR registration.

  • The vehicle count includes vehicles controlled by the registrant under a long-term lease (lease over 30-day duration). A vehicle that is operated by the registrant under a lease of 30 days or less is not included in this count.
  • Self-propelled owned or leased commercial motor vehicles operated in intrastate or interstate commerce for compensation regardless of the weight of the vehicle or the passenger capacity may be included in the count.
  • The registrant may include motor vehicles that are owned or leased and are used only in intrastate commerce regardless of the state in which vehicles might have been operated.
  • Registrant may elect to exclude the number of commercial motor vehicles owned or leased operated exclusively in the intrastate transportation of property, waste or recyclable material.

Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) credential

The Unified Carrier Registration Agreement (UCRA) does not issue a paper credential to be carried in the vehicle. The registrant is issued a receipt for UCR registration which should be maintained at the carrier's principal place of business. A copy of the receipt may be carried in the vehicle but is not required. Proof of registration under the UCRA is available to roadside enforcement via Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) electronic information systems, such as SAFER.

Setting fees

The Board reviews the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) fees annually by considering the number of participating states, the UCR revenues each participating state is entitled to, what amount of administrative costs are to be recouped through the UCR fees, how many entities are subject to the UCR Agreement and how many commercial motor vehicles they operate. After this evaluation, the Board recommends to the USDOT the level of UCR fees to be effective the following year. Within 90 days following the Board's recommendation, USDOT Secretary sets the fees through a federal rulemaking. This process requires formal notice and opportunity for public comment in the Federal Register.


At the request of the Secretary of Transportation, the Attorney general may bring civil action in a U.S. district court to enforce an order issued to require compliance with the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) agreement. The court may issue a temporary restraining order or a preliminary or permanent injunction requiring compliance.

States may also issue citations and impose fines and penalties for failure to submit accurate documentation, pay fees, or for operating as in interstate motor carrier without UCR registration. Some states withhold International Registration Plan (IRP) and/or International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) renewals until UCR registration is complete and fees are paid.

Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) recordkeeping and audits

Registrant recordkeeping requires preserving the UCR records upon which the annual applications and renewals are based for two years from the due date or filing date, whichever is later, plus any time period included as a result of state decisions or inquiries. The two-year period is the current calendar year and the prior calendar year.

Records may be kept on paper, microfilm, microfiche, or other computerized or condensed record storage system as required by the Base State.

The UCR is establishing an audit program and states will be conducting audits to ensure accuracy of carrier filing and reporting.