FMCSA Abruptly Shifts to Seven-Digit MC Numbers
Pay careful attention when using a company's MC number to determine its age. It's not as simple as it used to be.
Until recently it was fairly easy to determine how long a carrier had been in business: since the FMCSA issued MC numbers in numerical order, a quick look at their assigned number could give you a good idea of when the company received its authority. A smaller number indicated a longer time in business and a larger one indicated less. While the transportation industry obviously expected the eventual end of the six-digit MC number era, the FMCSA decided to throw a curveball in early 2017 by recycling unused six-digit numbers rather than shifting to seven-digit numbers.
For example, MC number 000810 was issued in February of 2017 while another carrier likely received MC number 999999 in January or February of the same year (since the six-digit format reached its end in early 2017). The three preemptive zeros in the 000810 MC number make the carrier's business look much older than it actually is, while the company with the 999999 number appears newer (because it is) even though the numbers were both issued within the same two month timeframe.
Now the FMCSA has shifted to seven-digit MC numbers with eight-digit numbers sure to follow eventually. While the seven-digit shift was certain to come, the timing of the update is puzzling. Why recycle six-digit numbers for the prior year and a half if seven-digit MC numbers were eventually going to become the new standard anyway?
Keep this information in mind when attempting to determine how long a carrier has been in business!