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What is UCR?

The UCR Plan also called the INTERSTATE agreement and the 41 States participating in the UCR Agreement establish and collect fees from motor carriers, motor private carriers of property, brokers, freight forwarders, and leasing companies. It is based on a calendar year basis from January through December. You pay the same fee in Jan that you do in December. UCR fee will not be prorated. Fees are based on the number of power units in your fleet. 

The unified Carrier registration plan or UCR is a state revenue sharing program and interstate compact established under federal law in 2005 UCR requires commercial transportation operations to register and pay annual UCR fees if they're involved with interstate or International Commerce. A vehicle is involved with interstate or International Commerce if the goods or passengers at transports cross state or national lines at any point in their journey even if the vehicle itself doesn’t actually lead to state.  States that participate in UCR received money collected from UCR fees which they put into a fund use for general purposes including state highway and safety programs each participating state is entitled to a specific amount of revenue for each registration year up to that state's cap after a state hits its cap any additional revenue goes into the UCR depository ucr then redistributes it proportionally to other participating States that have not yet reached their cap for that year.

Who needs to file UCR?

Businesses that need to register with UCR typically include interstate motor carriers freight forwarders brokers and leasing companies.

The following categories are subject to UCR fees under the law if they conduct INTERSTATE commerce in the United States: 

  • Motor carriers of property, both for-hire and private, whether or not they are considered exempt carriers for purposes of federal regulation 

  • For-hire passenger motor carriers 

  • Freight forwarders 

  • Brokers 

  • Leasing companies that lease vehicles without drivers to interstate motor carriers or freight forwarders 

In general any company that is required to register with the federal motor Carrier safety administration or FMCSA administration and has A US DOT number needs to register with UCR if it is involved with interstate or International Commerce. A vehicle registered under the International registration plan or IRP also needs to be registered under UCR because the IRP specifically applies to interstate commercial vehicles.

To summarize, if you have a dot number and your operation is interstate commerce the FMCSA, also called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, requiring a UCR (Unified Carrier Registration) fee to be paid.

How is Interstate Commerce Defined? 

Interstate commerce refers to the movement of goods or passengers across state lines or across the borders of the U.S. This includes movements of goods or passengers across state or national boundaries, but also a movement entirely within a state when that movement is the beginning or continuation of a movement across a state or national border. 

Whether a vehicle Is involved with interstate or International Commerce depends on the movement of its CARGO across state or national lines if the goods are passengers being transported cross state or national lines at any point in their journey it is considered interstate Commerce even if the vehicle itself doesn't actually leave the state, for example transportation companies that take products to docks or airports are considered interstate even if their vehicles never leave the state.

International Impacts

Motor carriers and other entities involved in interstate and foreign transportation in the United States that do not have a principal office in the United States are nonetheless subject to the fees for the UCR Plan. They are required to designate a participating State as a base State and pay the appropriate fees to that State. 49 U.S.C. 14504a(a)(2)(B)(ii) and (f)(4).

UCR Exemptions

There are some exceptions, trade, traffic or transportation entirely within a state is intrastate Commerce and therefore exempt from UCR registration. A vehicle is only considered interstate if its freight is made and moves entirely within the state. Where the product is made is important in determining interstate operations.

Here are some other exemptions from the UCR program a company does not need to register;

  1. If it only operates vehicles outside the United States or only within the State of Hawaii.

  2. Private passenger carriers do not need to register as long as they do not charge directly or indirectly for their services for example a business providing a free shuttle for its employees.

  3. Vehicles operated by the government vie town city county state federal or Indian tribe do not count toward UCR  fees.

  4. Interstate school busses operated by or under contract with the school system



Sometimes a carrier does not have to count every vehicle in its fleet this is important because a carrier's fleet size determines how much it pays in UCR fees.

The following types of vehicles don't count toward UCR fees:

  1. Interstate school busses

  2. Emergency vehicles

  3. Vehicles that way and have a manufacturer's weight rating of 10000 pounds or less including trailing equipment

  4. Trailing equipment that's only towed behind a power unit

  5. Vehicles designed to transport fewer than 10 people

  6. Vehicles that only operate off road

Failure to pay all required fees for UCR may negatively impact your business. You may get pulled over when using the roads of a participating state and they may not release your truck until you pay all your due fees. In addition to that, you may also be liable to other penalties subject to all requirements and regulations. 


What is the law governing the UCR agreement?

The UCR Agreement is found in 49 United States Code (USC) section 14504a (hereinafter referred to as section 14504a or § 14504a).

The UCR Agreement is established by federal law in the UCR Act, which is part of the federal highway reauthorization bill known as the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act, A Legacy for Users (“SAFETEA-LU”), Public Law 109-59, enacted August 10, 2005. The UCR Act is sections 4301 through 4308 of SAFETEA-LU. In particular, the structure of the UCR Agreement is set forth in section 4305 of the UCR Act, which enacts §14504a as a new section in 49 USC.

The UCR Agreement has been amended under Section 301 of the SAFETEA-LU Technical Corrections Act of 2008, Public Law 110-244, enacted June 6, 2008, and in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, Public Law 110-432, enacted October 16, 2008.

What Commercial Motor Vehicles Definition?


For purposes of the UCR, a commercial motor vehicle is defined as follows: 

A self-propelled vehicle used on the highways in commerce principally to transport passengers or cargo, if the vehicle:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds, whichever is greater, or when connected to trailing equipment has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of at least 10,001 pounds, whichever is greater, or

  • Carries placarded amounts of hazardous materials, regardless of the vehicle’s weight, or

  • Is designed to carry more than 10 passengers, including the driver.

The above is consistent with the definition of Commercial Motor Vehicle as set forth in the UCR Act (49 U.S. Code § 31101)

Which States are participating in the UCR Agreement?

The participating States are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Which States are NOT participating in the UCR Agreement?

The non-participating States are Arizona, Hawaii, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Wyoming, and Washington D.C.

What is the Base State  Under the UCR Agreement?

The UCR Agreement is a base-state system, under which a UCR registrant pays UCR fees through its Base State on behalf of all the participating States. A UCR registrant shall select its Base State using the following hierarchy:

1. If your principal place of business state as completed in Section 1 of the form is AK, AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, or WV, you must use that state as your base state.

2. If your principal place of business state is not one of those listed above but you have an office or operating facility located in one of those states, you must use that state as your base state.

If you cannot select a base state using (1) or (2) above, you must select your base state from (I)

above that is nearest your principal place of business or select your base state as follows:

1.      If your principal place of business state is DC, MD, NJ or VT or the Canadian Province of ON, NB, NL, NS, PE, or QC, you may select one of the following states: CT, DE, MA, ME, NH, NY, PA, RI, VA, or WV.

2.      If your principal place of business state is FL or a state of Mexico, you may select one of the following states: AL, AR, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, or TX.

3.      If your principal place of business state is the Canadian Province of ON or MB, you may select one of the following states: IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, OH, or WI.

4.      If your principal place of business state is AZ, HI, NV, OR, or WY, or the Canadian Province of AB, BC, MB, NT, NU, SK or YT or a state of Mexico, you may select one of the following states: AK, CA, CO, ID, MT, ND, NM, SD, UT, or WA.

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