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Agents of Process and Registered Agents

What’s the difference between Agents of Process for Interstate Carriers and Registered Agents for Intrastate Carriers?

The regulations of the FMCSA (49 USC 13304) require that each interstate motor carrier must designate an Agent of Process as a condition of being granted and maintaining their operating authority. The process agent serves as your statutory agent in each state where you have interstate operating authority; they act on your behalf to receive notice of any legal actions that may be filed against you in the state vis-à-vis the interstate shipments that you transport to, from or via that state.  The process agent functions as a channel between you and the legal system and enables court actions to be served in the jurisdiction in which the event occurred.

AMSA has a network of attorneys across the country that fulfills this requirement on your behalf.  And as an AMSA member, you are provided with this service free of charge; it is included in you annual dues payment. 
Specifically, the provisions provide –

Designation of Agent. - A motor carrier or broker providing transportation subject to jurisdiction under chapter 135, including a motor carrier or broker operating within the United States while providing transportation between places in a foreign country or between a place in one foreign country and a place in another foreign country, shall designate an agent in each State in which it operates by name and post office address on whom process issued by a court with subject matter jurisdiction may be served in an action brought against that carrier or broker.

The designation must be made in writing and must be filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation.  You are provided with this service as an AMSA member as part of your regular annual dues.  Or if you are not a household goods mover, you may also participate in this service for a small annual fee.

It is important to note however, that the service provided by AMSA extends only to the Federal requirement for interstate carriers.  If you also operate as an intrastate or local carrier within a single state, you may be required to designate a registered agent for that intrastate business, especially if your company is domiciled in a different state.

For example, it is a requirement under Virginia law that every out of state corporation wishing to do business in Virginia be authorized by Virginia’s State Corporation Commission to do business within the state.  To obtain this authorization, the company must designate an intra-state agent so that their out of state company can become authorized to transact business within Virginia.  Most states have similar requirements.

Many of the interstate process agents that are provided to you by AMSA will also provide intra-state registered agent service, but it is essential that you make arrangements directly with them if you want them to perform this additional service for you.  This will insure that you are adequately represented at the state level and prevent any default judgments against you.

You can verify the status of your federally-mandated process agent service and your operating authority with FMCSA at: www.safersys.org/CompanySnapshot.aspx.

1)   Log on and enter your U.S. DOT, MC/MX Number or Your Company name.
2)   When your listing comes up, select the “Licensing & Insurance” link in the box on the right-side of the page to view summary information about your FMCSA authority.
3)   For detailed information about your authority, select the “HTML” box under the “View Details” column in your summary.
4)   Check your address and other contact information; if it’s not correct, contact the FMCSA Licensing and Insurance Department (202-385-2423) to update your record.
5)   For information on your process agent, look for the line near the bottom of your listing that says “BOC-3”.
6)   If it says “Yes” and gives the name of your Blanket Company, you are in compliance.

Click on the name of the Blanket Company for a list of the Process Agents acting on your behalf in each state relating to the transportation of interstate shipments.

If you also transport shipments locally and you do not already have a Registered Agent representing you at the state level for your intrastate business, you may wish to make separate arrangements with these firms so that you are properly represented in the states where you provide local intrastate service.

7) If it says “No” you are not in compliance with the FMCSA’s regulations; contact our Membership Department at 703-683-7410 so that we can file a BOC-3 Designation of Process Agent immediately on your behalf to avoid possible revocation of your authority.