Carriers are able to complete the yearly Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) filings for 2018 and pay their annual registration fees. The UCR board, which oversees federal and state registration of motor carriers and brokers, also cut this year’s registration fees by 9.1% across the board.

Registration fees will be slightly higher next year but still 4.6% lower than fees imposed in 2017. Based on the new fee structure, carriers with six to 20 trucks would pay $410 for registration this year and $431 next year.

However, the fee for 2019 will be $21 less than last year’s fee of $452.

Interstate trucking carriers, brokers, private carriers, and freight forwarders are required to register and pay the registration fee annually.

On January 5, Friday, the agency published a final rule announcing the 2018 fees and opening the registration process.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) said it would enforce the 2018 carrier registration after 90 days from the final rule’s publication. That means carriers and independent owner-operators have until April 5 to register and pay their annual fees.

Delay in the opening of the registration process

The start of the 2018 registration process was delayed for three months due to legal questions surrounding the DOT proposal issued in September. The proposal announced the lower fees and pushed back the registration date to Nov. 1, 2017.

The annual carrier registration usually begins on October 1 of each year and ends on December 31.

In the proposal, the agency said that 2018 registration fees would be reduced by 9.1% after total revenues from the UCR Plan exceeded the statutory maximum for the 2016 registration year by $5.13 million, or 4.55%.

The FMCSA said it was the first time the statutory maximum had been surpassed.

On the other hand, the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) sued the UCR board before the U.S. District Court in Columbia, claiming the body violated federal open meetings laws by failing to provide a formal seven-day public notice about a meeting held on September 14 to decide on the new fee structure and the 2018 registration period.

Federal regulations state that public notices should be published in the Federal Register at least seven days in advance, the SBTC claimed. However, there was no public notice about the meeting, including its time and venue, which are supposed to be open to the public.

While the reduced fees would benefit its members, the coalition’s chief complaint is the narrower payment window, reduced from 90 days to 60.

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The decision

The coalition asked a court to reverse the decisions reached during the September meeting.

The district court agreed with the SBTC that the UCR board failed to publish a proper meeting notice but decided against invalidating the board’s decisions.

Instead, the court told the UCR board to disclose the “draft minutes, transcripts and recordings” of the September 14 meeting and publish them online at ucr.in.gov.

The court also said that while the STBC was right in its claim that the board violated the federal law on the issuance of a notice, the group is “not entitled to the drastic relief they seek.”

Fighting over revenue sharing

In a separate claim, Texas sought to block the fee and registration schedule changes due to a fight with the UCR board over revenue sharing.

According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the UCR board shortchanged the agency by more than $33 million in owed revenue since 2007. That equates to about $3 million a year.

The DOT proceeded with the rule despite Texas’s claim, adding that the state will have to pursue another avenue to correct the issue if there is one.