The Unified Registration System (URS) and How It Protects You

If you’re involved in shipping at all, you’re likely already aware of the MAP-21 Act that went into effect on October 1st of this year. This groundbreaking transportation legislation was a major game-changer and there’s still serious buzz about its implications – especially hot-button issues like required EOBRs on all trucks and the broker bond increase (you can read more about those in our last blog on this subject).

Something that hasn’t received quite as much news coverage but will still have a major impact on the trucking industry is the implementation of what’s being called a Unified Registration System, or URS. This particular piece of the bill will begin implementation in just a few days, on November 1st, 2013, with a final compliance date and the system up and running by October 23rd, 2015. So… what does it mean?

What is the Unified Registration System (URS)?

This new electronic system will eliminate paper forms in the registration and record keeping process for all carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, and other transportation providers. All of these companies and their authority will now be registered and tracked in the exact same system, all in one place.

Sounds pretty simple! What’s the big deal?

Due to the implementation of the URS, new information disclosure requirements are being put into place. Because all records will now live in the same unified database, the FMSCA can link records together. Previously, it was requested (but not required) for transportation providers to disclose if they’d ever had a different MC number or done business under a different name. Because this wasn’t an enforced requirement, sneaky carriers who had terrible CSA scores or had their authority revoked could easily “start from scratch” and apply for new authority under a new name, with the FMCSA having no real way of tracking their history. These carriers were colloquially known as “chameleon carriers”.

Because of the URS, this information is now required to be disclosed. Anyone applying for or renewing their authority must officially declare their past MC numbers or company names so that the records in the unified system can be linked together and no past transgressions fall by the wayside.

Is this a good thing?

Absolutely! It’s great for us, as a transportation provider who is focused on booking only compliant and reliable carriers for our customers – and it’s great for you, too, if you work with asset-based carriers as well as non-asset based providers like Trinity. There’s no such thing as a fresh start for non-compliant carriers anymore. If they’ve had their authority revoked, it’ll be a blemish on their record forever, and as long as you are properly vetting the carriers you select to move your freight, all of that information will be visible to you. In the past, it was possible to be duped by a “chameleon carrier,” but the chances of that happening to you now are very slim.

Have questions about the URS or the MAP-21 Act? You can read more about the URS here or just comment on this blog and we’ll help you out!