Trucking, like many industries in life, comes with a lot of paperwork. The Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) is one of these. This guide should help make understanding the UCR easier, since you no doubt have plenty of things already on your mind!
What is the UCR?
The Unified Carrier Registration system is the product of a collaboration between the federal government and over 40 states. Its purpose is to raise funds to supplement funding for state motor carrier highway safety and enforcement, including the enforcement of penalizing those who have not paid their UCR fees!
Who Pays the UCR Fee?
Any business that has a commercial motor vehicle travel interstate is subject to fees. This might seem very straightforward, but under UCR rules, transporting cargo that originates or ends in another state (or country) still counts as interstate hauling, even if the truck you use never left the single state. For example, delivering avocados from the California Central Valley onto a train where they go to Illinois counts as interstate hauling.
The number of trucks that have driven “interstate” determines the fee the business pays. Even if the commercial motor vehicle only crossed the border for a second out of the year, it counts.
How Much Do I Owe?
Here is the table for 2021:
Number of commercial motor vehicles operated “interstate”
1,001 and above
When Do I Have to Pay?
Enforcement became law in January of this year, and the enrollment period for 2022 is from October 1st to December 31st, 2021.
Where Do I Pay?
There are many websites that may offer to do the paperwork for you, but these will often have either obvious or hidden fees; nobody works for free. The only surefire way to avoid paying extra fees is through the UCR website itself.
Why Should I Pay?
Presumably, the fines for avoiding the tax will exceed the cost of the tax itself. The data is tracked in a national database that can be accessed during roadchecks, so if a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officer finds you have not paid the UCR tax on a truck from California, you may be in hot water.
Another year is almost at its conclusion, and as such, the annual paperwork has begun again. It is a shame that the government has decided to use the busiest quarter for trucking as the window to pay these fees and do the paperwork, rather than the slow season immediately afterward, but you can always count on the government not to plan for these things!
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