What is the Difference Between Interstate and Intrastate Authority?

If you own a trucking company, one of your primary objectives is to expand your business. If you want to broaden your business’s horizons, here are some distinctions between interstate and intrastate commerce; you can read more here if you need more information.

Defining the Two Terms

Intrastate Commerce – according to the federal motor carrier laws, this phrase refers to any trade, travel, or transportation that occurs within a state. This often refers to trade, travel, or transportation inside a single state.

Interstate Commerce – this term refers to trade, travel, or transportation in the country that takes place between different states.

An interstate shipment begins when it leaves one state for another or is handed to a carrier for such transportation and concludes when it arrives at its destination. Interstate commerce encompasses all modes of transport from start to finish.

Interstate VS Intrastate Authority

You will require interstate operating authority if you wish to transport cargo across state lines. This authority is known as the trucking or motor carrier authority.

Your Motor Carrier (MC) number determines your operating authority. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will include your DOT Number and your MC Number.

A Department of Transportation (DOT) number and a motor carrier (MC) number are required for interstate carriers. Those who are simply involved in intrastate travel and are registered as such will only need a DOT number. However, if they operate as a for-hire carrier, they will also require an MC number.

Carriers with interstate authority must follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. About 40 states have adopted all FMCSRs for their intrastate laws, while others use some of them. Thus carriers operating under intrastate jurisdiction only need to verify with their local state or compliance professional to ensure their activities are legal.

Similarities between Intrastate and Interstate

The state regulates intrastate business, whereas the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates interstate commerce. However, there are several rules that all trucking companies must adhere to, including prerequisites for a CDL, testing for drugs and alcohol, insurance for commercial trucks, and hazardous substances.

You must ensure that your drivers are licensed to operate commercial motor vehicles and that your cargo is protected by insurance. If you’re transporting federally controlled HAZMAT, you may also be required to observe all interstate commerce requirements.

The Transition from Intrastate to Interstate Trucking

When you switch from intrastate to interstate, you’re switching from state to federal regulations. Because some states have standards that are comparable to the FMCSA and others do not, the process will be slightly different in each state.

Instead of following state laws, you can transition your company from intrastate to interstate by following FMCSA requirements. You’ll require trucking authorization and additional licenses and registrations.


Interstate travel refers to travel between different states, whereas intrastate travel refers to travel within a single state. Interstate trucking companies must have the required registration, such as a DOT number, an MC number, etc.

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