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MEMORANDUM ON UNIFIED MOTOR CARRIER REGISTRATION FEE

Background:

On August 24, 2007, DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finalized a rule that established initial fees for 2007 and a fee bracket structure for the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Agreement. The fee structure was proposed in a NPRM published by FMCSA May 29, 2007 and allowed for only a two-week comment period. The fee itself was authorized under the Unified Carrier Registration Act of 2005, enacted as Subtitle C of the 2005 Highway Bill.

The UCR program requires that the fees be paid by ALL motor carriers operating in interstate commerce. This includes 'for-hire' motor carriers, private motor carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, leasing companies, and exempt for-hire motor carriers.

The fees are to be paid to the carrier's designated "base-State" with the effective dates for the fees to be established by each State. As such, the effective dates will vary depending on the State, though nearly all will have an effective date before the end of 2007 with many much sooner than that.

According to the 2005 authorizing legislation, the UCR Act is meant to replace the Single State Registration System (SSRS), which was a State-administered registration program covering 'for-hire' motor carriers operating in interstate commerce. Revenues from the SSRS go towards enforcement of a respective state's motor carrier safety programs and other safety-related services. However, the 2005 Highway Bill actually repealed the SSRS as of January 1, 2007. Thus, funding for state motor carrier safety programs that came from fees collected under the previous SSRS ceased to exist beginning this year.

The fees associated with the UCR program are meant to replace those fees generated by the SSRS. However, Congress sought to spread the fees across the board to apply to the whole motor carrier population operating in interstate commerce, not just those who were 'for-hire.' The rationale for this was that under the SSRS, the costs for all motor carrier enforcement activities at the state level were essentially paid only by the 'for-hire' motor carriers even though motor carriers other than the 'for-hire' type would also reap the benefits of such enforcement, e.g. removing unsafe carriers from the roads.

Fee Structure and Amount:

The fee structure was established using the parameters provided in the authorizing legislation. To that end, the fee structure:

  • Is based on the total number of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) a motor carrier, whether private or for-hire, operates in interstate commerce. This is irrespective of how extensive the carrier's interstate operations are, i.e. whether two states or 20 states; (Section III below addresses Expected Payment Procedures.)
  • Specifies 6 fee brackets (see below) based on total number of CMVs. The actual fee amount assessed a carrier depends on within which one of the six fee brackets a carrier falls (the legislation permits only up to 6 brackets);
  • Is to be progressive in amount;
  • Specifies fee amounts that are on a per company-basis (not a per vehicle-basis as was the case under the SSRS)
  • Brackets and amounts are as follows:
Bracket Number of total CMVs Company pays
B1 0-2 $39
B2 3-5 $116
B3 6-20 $231
B4 21-100 $806
B5 101-1000 $3840
B6 1001 and Up $37,500

According to the analysis presented in the proposed rule, these fees represent an average fee per motor vehicle from a low of $0.35 to a maximum of $39 per vehicle.

Expected Payment Procedures:

Each UCR participating State will send a mailing to all motor carriers located within their jurisdiction. Carriers located in non-participating States will be sent a mailing either by the non-participating State who has agreed to perform the UCR mailing or by another State that is participating in the UCR program.

Carriers will receive a UCR Industry Notice, a UCR Application Form and an Instruction Sheet for the application form. The carrier will complete the UCR Application Form and determine the appropriate fee to be paid based upon their fleet size or type of operation, e.g. broker, freight forwarder, etc.

Carriers will be given the choice of submitting payment online, through regular mail or by paying in person. Appropriate instructions for payment will be provided in the instructions.

Limitations Placed on UCR Agreement:

Several constraints were included in the authorizing legislation. They include the following:

  • The amount to be collected under the program is to be capped at a level not to exceed the funds collected under the 2004 SSRS registration year;
  • Excess funds collected under the program following all authorized disbursements will go towards reducing the UCR fees for the following registration year;
  • Fee assessments require yearly approval by FMCSA following a public comment period;
  • States are preempted from collecting other fees related to interstate operating authority and insurance requirements;
  • There would be no credentialing requirement to place decals on the motor vehicles.

Next Steps:

Essentially, if a motor carrier previously paid fees under the SSRS, there will be less of an impact. If not, then the impact will be greater.

NPGA is currently assessing the impact these fee requirements will have on our industry, and depending on the extent, will explore all potential options to eliminate or reduce the burden on the propane industry.


PERC


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