How to Get a Freight Forward Broker License

Freight brokers arrange transport of goods.
Freight brokers arrange transport of goods. (Image: truck image by pearlguy from

Freight brokers are agents who help customers arrange the transportation and delivery of goods via licensed carriers. Brokers are not required to register as carriers as long as they do not take possession of the goods in transit. They do not carry cargo insurance and do not issue bills of lading under their company names. Brokers are required to be bonded to assure that they will pay the carriers' invoices after they receive payment from their customers. Freight brokers are licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a division of the U. S. Department of Transportation.

Go to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website (see Resources) to register. Complete form OP-1 (Motor Property Carrier and Broker Authority) online. Have a credit card ready to pay the $300 registration fee. Alternatively, you may print the form, complete it and mail it in. Mailed applications may require four to six weeks for processing. FMCSA strongly encourages applicants to use the online guidance and registration.

Record the MC or FF number assigned during the online registration process. This number is required when filing the additional forms listed below. A confirmation letter will be mailed. If you apply by mail, the number will be issued by mail. Your broker's application will be published in the "FMCSA Register."

Have your insurance company or financial institution file evidence of financial security in the amount of $10,000 either on form BMC-84 for a surety bond or form BMC-85 for a trust fund with a financial institution. Blank forms are available from the FMSCA (see Resources).

File form BOC-3 (Designation of Process Agents) online or print the form, complete it and mail it in. The FMCSA strongly encourages online submissions. A list of companies that offer process agent services is found on the FMCSA website (see Resources).

Begin operations after you receive your license in the mail. You do not have operating authority until you have the license in hand.

Tips & Warnings

  • A process agent is a representative in a given state who receives legal documents relating to a transportation business. A broker must designate a process agent in any state in which he maintains an office or initiates contracts. A broker may act as his own process agent in the state where he maintains a physical office.
  • A surety bond or trust fund must provide for continuous coverage and may only be terminated with 30 days written notice to the FMCSA. A broker license will only remain active while the financial security is in place.
  • Financial security must be filed and approved within 90 days of the publication date in the "FMCSA Register." If it is not received, the application will be dismissed and the registration fee is forfeited.

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