Freight Broker License Requirements

Freight brokers help move products across the country.
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Thanks to the work of freight brokers, people have the opportunity to purchase products from all over the country right in their own cities and towns. Freight brokers, also known as freight agents, work as intermediaries in the shipping industry -- connecting companies that need items shipped, with trucking companies looking for items to ship. While men dominate most of the trucking industry, freight brokering has brought in a number of women who enjoy the opportunity to make money while working from home. Earning a freight-broker license requires fulfilling several prerequisites.


    All freight brokers must file an application for an Operating Authority with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA allows brokers to fill out an application online or on paper. The application requires basic biographical information such as business name, address and type. When submitting an application, the broker must also pay the application fee of $300. After the FMCSA approves the application, the broker receives her Motor Carrier Number. Some companies will file the Operating Authority paperwork for the broker for an additional fee.

Bond or Trust Fund Agreement

    Once a broker receives her Motor Carrier number, she must obtain a surety bond or trust fund agreement. Essentially, surety bonds and trust fund agreements act as insurance for the broker in case of accidents, injuries, death or loss of property. The FMCSA requires all brokers to possess either a surety bond or trust fund agreement in the amount of $10,000 or more, both of which the broker can purchase through third-party insurance companies and banks. The fee to obtain a surety bond or trust fund agreement varies depending on the applicant's credit history. The insurance company must file the surety bond or trust fund agreement with the FMCSA on behalf of the broker.

Process Agent

    The freight broker must obtain a process agent, also called a legal agent, in each of the 48 continental states where she will maintain an office or establish contracts. The FMCSA allows the broker to act as her own agent in the state where she has a physical office. The process agent receives legal process or lawsuit papers on that broker's behalf in case of a lawsuit against the broker. After securing legal agents for each state, the broker must file a Designation of Process Agents for Motor Carriers, Brokers and Freight Forwarders with FMCSA. A number of companies exist that will provide blanket coverage for brokers for a fee, so they do not have to find 48 legal agents themselves.


    For the person interested in a career as a freight broker, but who wants to avoid the hassle of obtaining a license, another option exists. She can become a freight broker agent instead and work under the authority of an existing freight broker who already has a license. A freight broker agent can avoid the rigorous application process and associated fees of obtaining surety bonds and process agents, but she gives the broker 50 to 60 percent of her profits.

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