Before a transportation company is granted interstate operating authority, they are required to file Form BOC-3 with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
What is a BOC-3?
Form BOC-3 (Designation of Agents for Service of Process) gives motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders a legal presence in any state where they do business.
By filing the BOC-3, which stands for blanket of coverage, a trucking company designates the process agents that represent them in every state their trucks haul freight. The designated process agent will accept court papers from the state on behalf of the trucking company should there ever be a legal issue.
For example, let’s say Kevin’s Trucking is a company based out of Kansas. One of their trucks is involved in an accident while hauling goods in Oklahoma. Another driver involved in the crash decides to take legal action. The BOC-3 form for Kevin’s Trucking authorizes a process agent in Oklahoma to physically receive court documents related to that lawsuit.
Filing a BOC-3
The FMCSA requires that a process agent files the BOC-3 on behalf of a motor carrier. Brokers and freight forwarders that do not operate any of their own commercial motor vehicles can file the Form BOC-3 on their own.
Only one completed form may be on file with the FMCSA. It must include all states for which agency designations are required. The cost of filing an initial BOC-3 typically ranges from $20 to $40.
One signed copy of the BOC-3 form should be filed with each state in which a trucking company operates. That company should also have a copy of the BOC-3 at their primary office. Any changes to designated agents will require the filing of a new BOC-3 with the FMCSA and with the related states.
Designating a Process Agent
All motor carriers are required to appoint a process agent for each state in which they operate, including any states they pass through. Brokers and freight forwarders are required to appoint a process agent in each state in which they have an office and in which they write contracts.
Process agents that provide nationwide coverage are typically referred to as blanket companies. Many trucking companies choose a blanket company to save time and eliminate the need to find individual agents for multiple states.
Each person or company that is designated for a specific state must reside in that state. A carrier, broker or freight forwarder may designate themselves for the state in which they reside. It is important to note that a post office box is not acceptable as an agent’s address.
Once an application for motor carrier and U.S. DOT numbers is posted by the FMCSA, the company’s contact information becomes public. It is likely they will receive a lot of phone calls from companies saying they specialize in BOC-3s and other permits. It is important to make sure an individual or company acting as a process agent is in fact authorized to file BOC-3 forms and can provide coverage in every state needed. To help alleviate this concern, first check the FMCSA list of registered process agents.
Sources: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration