MAP-21 Broker and Freight Forwarder Questions & Answers
Question 1: Must freight forwarders and brokers register with FMCSA?
Answer: Yes. Freight forwarders and brokers are required to register with FMCSA. Freight forwarders that perform both freight forwarder services and motor carrier services must register both as a freight forwarder and as a motor carrier. Also note that motor carriers that broker loads, even occasionally, must register both as a motor carrier and as a broker.
Question 2: Does a motor carrier that participates in freight interlining have to register as
Answer: No. Anyone brokering a load must be registered as a broker, which by definition may
only arrange — not perform — transportation unless the person is also separately registered as a
motor carrier. A motor carrier that is performing part of the transportation as an interline
operation, however, typically performs that service under its own motor carrier operating
authority registration or the operating authority of the originating motor carrier. As a result, the
motor carrier arranging the interline service in order to perform the transportation service
requested by the shipper would not be brokering the load and would not require broker
Question 3: What is the minimum level of financial security that a broker must maintain
on file with FMCSA?
Answer: Currently, a general freight broker must maintain a surety bond or trust fund agreement
in the amount of $10,000 to comply with FMCSA’s financial security requirements and brokers
of household goods must maintain $25,000.
Beginning October 1, 2013, a broker will need to obtain and file with FMCSA a surety bond or
trust fund agreement in the amount of $75,000 to comply with FMCSA’s financial security
Background Questions about Brokers and Freight Forwarders
Question 1: What is a broker?
Answer: Generally speaking, a broker is a person or an entity other than a motor carrier that
arranges for the transportation of property by a motor carrier for compensation. A broker does
not transport the property and does not assume responsibility for the property.
Question 2: What is a freight forwarder?
Answer: A freight forwarder is a person or entity that holds itself out to the general public as
providing transportation of property for compensation and in the ordinary course of its business:
1) Assembles and consolidates, or provides for assembling and consolidating, shipments and
performs or provides for break-bulk and distribution operations of the shipments;
2) Assumes responsibility for the transportation from the place of receipt to the place of
3) Uses for any part of the transportation a rail, motor or water carrier subject to the jurisdiction
of either FMCSA or the Surface Transportation Board.
Question 3: What is freight interlining?
Answer: To interline a shipment is to transfer the shipment between two or more carriers for
movement to final destination. For example, where the point of origin is Washington, DC and
the final destination is Los Angeles, CA, Motor Carrier “A” may transport a shipment from
Washington, DC and then interline with Motor Carrier “B” in San Antonio, TX. Motor Carrier
“B” will then complete the transportation of the shipment to Los Angeles, CA.
Question 4: Does FMCSA require an interline carrier to obtain operating authority?
Answer: FMCSA requires all non-exempt for-hire interstate motor carriers to obtain operating
authority. However, a motor carrier that is performing part of a single continuous transportation
as an interline operation can perform that service under either its own operating authority or the
authority of the originating motor carrier.
Question 5: Does a broker process loss and damage claims?
Answer: No, a broker assumes no responsibility for the shipment and does not touch the
shipment. A claim must be filed with the appropriate motor carrier, which usually would be the
delivering carrier or the carrier causing the loss. Brokers may, however, assist shippers in filing
claims with the motor carrier on the shipper’s behalf.