A Quick Guide to Getting Trucking Authority

To become an owner-operator, you must get trucking authority, also called operating authority or federal operating authority. This allows you to haul freight and get paid as an owner-operator. Obtaining this document takes time, but it’s worth it to get started hauling freight right away, rather than waiting. Here’s how to get trucking authority quickly and easily so you can start driving loads and earning money sooner rather than later.

Step 1

Get Commercial Driver’s License: Getting a CDL is required for anyone who drives a commercial vehicle. This can include everything from trucks and trailers to buses and limos. A standard Class A CDL allows you to operate any combination of vehicles that has a gross combined weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more. In most cases, getting your license involves taking an official state training course and passing both written and road tests. Some states have reciprocal agreements, meaning that you may be able to get your CDL by taking classes in one state and transferring them over into another. For example, California recognizes commercial driver’s licenses from many other states—but not Florida’s.
Trucking Authority

Step 2

Find out how and where you get your authority: This is normally done through a state DMV, but you can also get it from a private company, that specializes in getting owner-operators trucking authority on a shorter timeline. Whichever way you go for getting your authority, make sure it is done properly as errors at any step will delay your truck authority going active and could also mean paying more money for incorrectly filled out documents. If you choose to get your truck authority through a private company, make sure they are reputable and ask them about how quickly they can process applications and issue authorities.

Step 3

Get your trucker’s license: All drivers need a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, to operate any kind of commercial vehicle. To get your CDL, you need to take both a written and driving test; most drivers don’t realize that it will take several weeks between applying for your CDL and getting one. To get your trucker’s authority sooner rather than later, follow all steps and make sure you have everything in place before you start writing tests.

Step 4

Get Your Authority: Freight Broker and Owner-Operator: Getting your authority is a big step in your career growth and allows you to get paid for hauling freight as an owner-operator. It is important to follow all the steps to get a trucking authority; otherwise, it will take longer to go active and will delay you hauling loads and making money.  The most direct way to get a trucking authority is by going through a freight broker like CTC with our partner JB Hunt. This method takes about 30 days from application to load acceptance but does not include waiting on permits or scheduling medical and physicals at your local DMV/MVR office.

Step 5

Get Your OOD License A Driver Medical Card: You’re on your way home, heading out on an owner-operator (OO) run. But first, you have to go and get your OOD authority and driver’s medical card. In many states, truck drivers are required by law to carry their licenses with them at all times while driving; it’s also a good idea for safety reasons. Make sure you know exactly what steps you need to take to get these documents and where you can get them. And make sure you’re ready for any surprises that could pop up along the way—don’t forget that some states require testing! Prepare yourself by studying your state’s website ahead of time so that nothing catches you off guard.

Step 6

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Obtain Your Driver’s License: Obtaining a commercial driver’s license or CDL is an important step in your trucking career. The Department of Transportation requires that all drivers have a current CDL with endorsements for every state they plan on operating in, as well as any Hazmat endorsements required by federal law. To obtain your license, you must pass written and road exams. Many drivers wait until they receive their authority from their carrier to begin studying, but getting your license ahead of time will allow you to start working immediately once you get authority. There are many resources available online, including practice tests and study guides designed specifically for obtaining a CDL.

Step 7

Get trucking authority: To start a career as an owner-operator, you must get trucking authority from your state’s motor carrier division. If you’re in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and New York: You’ll have 30 days after becoming eligible for a license or endorsement to complete your CDL application. In Ohio: Once you obtain a DOT medical card from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), your application must be submitted within 90 days of that date.

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