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How Do You Get Permanent Operating Authority?

by Hannah Marcom | July 31, 2017

Operating authority

How Do You Get Permanent Operating Authority?

We know what you are thinking, you’ve gone through all the steps to start your trucking company. You applied for operating authority and now that you’ve received it, it’s not permanent! So, how do you get permanent operating authority? That’s a great question, and one of the most frequently asked questions for those just getting started in trucking. But don’t worry, throughout this post we are going to answer that question and a lot more to help you pass your new entrant safety audit and get permanent operating authority.

All new motor carriers are automatically part of the New Entrant Safety Assurance Program. This safety program was initiated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help monitor new entrants in the industry. Inclusion in the program ensures that necessary records are correctly maintained and that new motor carriers are operating safely.

What is the New Entrant Safety Audit?

First things first, to describe the new entrant safety audit we must explain the term “new entrant.” A new entrant is defined by the FMCSA as anyone who has applied for a USDOT identification number to haul interstate commerce.

The New Entrant Period is 18 months and during the first 12 months, your company must pass a safety audit performed by a certified U.S. federal safety investigator, or state/provincial enforcement officer.

When Do I Schedule My Audit?

The FMCSA will contact you with information about when and how to schedule your DOT audit. Once you’ve been notified, you have 90 days to schedule it. So, during that time it’s a good idea to get started on your DOT audit checklist!

What are the DOT Safety Audit Requirements?

The purpose of this audit is to review your safety management procedures and how well you maintain your records using six factors to test for compliance with safety regulations.

  1. Driver Qualifications:
  2. The auditor will check your driver qualification file (DQF). The purpose of the DQF is to maintain records to prove that your truck drivers are qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. The DQF can be exhaustive, so for step-by-step instructions on how to create your DQF files and to get a free DFQ checklist, check out this blog from Apex Capital.

  3. Accident Registers and Documentation:
  4. Next, the investigator or enforcement officer will check your company’s accident reports. You’ll need to have your company’s active motor carrier insurance, an accident register listing any DOT-recordable accidents involving your company, and an accident report for each accident.

  5. Driver Duty Status/Hours of Service (HOS):
  6. In addition to showing your log books or electronic logging device (ELD) you will need “supporting documents” to compare against your driver’s logs to check for compliance with hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. You can use receipts, dispatch records, or bills of lading (BOL) to prove the accuracy of your driver’s logs.

  7. Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use Testing:
  8. Your company’s Drug and Alcohol Program will be reviewed, so you’ll need company records like test results and contracts with any third-party drug and alcohol testing administrators.

  9. Vehicle Maintenance:
  10. You should have a maintenance file for each truck that shows all inspections, maintenance, and repairs, as well as driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs).

  11. Hazardous Materials:
  12. If you haul hazardous materials, make sure you are compliant with required permits and rules. Apex has more information on best practices, or you can visit the FMCSA.

What do I do after I have the safety audit?

After your scheduled safety audit has taken place the authorized personnel will review the findings and issue a pass or fail rating. If your trucking company fails the safety audit, you’ll need to submit a corrective action plan to fix any safety violations. If you don’t deliver that plan, your company could be placed out-of-service.

If you pass your DOT new entrant safety audit, the FMCSA will continue to monitor your company’s safety compliance and performance. If no further violations occur during the rest of your new entrant period, you will be granted permanent operating authority.


Whether you’re a new entrant in the trucking industry or a seasoned trucking industry professional, if you’ve got a truck, you’re going to need fuel! Don’t miss out on getting the same fuel discounts as the big fleets, sign up today or call 844-827-7705.

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Hannah Marcom

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