What is a Process Agent?
A process agent, not unlike a business’s registered agent, handles legal paperwork matters for a freight forwarding company, broker, or a motor carrier. This can include process of service in a possible lawsuit as well as state filings and other compliance documents. However, because these businesses have trucks that travel to different states (other than the one where the company is domiciled), and these trucks also pass through many other states on the way there, it is crucial that they have a process agent in every single one of those states. Brokers, motor carriers, and freight forwarders also require a process agent for each state where they maintain an office or write contracts.
A process agent that is designated for a certain state must be a person that resides there or a company that is headquartered in that particular state. This means that a broker, freight forwarder, or carrier may appoint themselves an official process agent for his, her, or its home state only. The only catch is that he, she, or it must have a street address there since, to prevent fraud, no post office boxes are allowed.
That said, a broker’s use of process agents in the other states, in which its business is partially being conducted, is similar to having a legal mailing address in that state. In other words, the company will not have to establish another office in that state in order to operate there. With regard to local matters, the process agent can accept legal papers on the company’s behalf and then forward them to the actual legitimate office.
Who Needs a Process Agent?
Any broker, freight forwarder, or motor carrier with a designation number must appoint a process agent. Federal Department of Transportation regulations mandate that these businesses must have a process agent in every state that they travel or operate in. There are some process agent companies that offer “blanket” coverage, or an agent for every state. Since they won’t have to search for agents from multiple states, hiring such a business saves trucking companies time and money if their fleet routinely travels across the country.
Conversely, freight operations that do not conduct interstate business do not necessitate a process agent. Process agents are also not needed for private motor carriers that do not work for hire.
What is Form BOC-3?
It is important to note that prior to being granted interstate operating authority in general, a transportation company is required file Form BOC-3 with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA.
Form BOC-3 is the “Designation of Agents for Service of Process” form. This is the paper that provides brokers, motor carriers, and freight forwarders a necessary legal presence in each of the states in which they plan to conduct business. The form lists the process agents that represent the company in each state in which their trucks haul freight and cartage or where an office is present.
In accordance with the FMCSA, a process agent must be the party that files the BOC-3 on the motor carrier’s behalf with a filing fee between $20 – $40. However, if a broker or a freight forwarder does not operate any of its own commercial vehicles, it is allowed to file its own form. To be considered completed, the form will include every state where a designated agent would be required, and it must be on file with the FMCSA. In addition, a signed copy should be on file with every state listed on the form, and an additional print should be located at the carrier’s primary office. These forms must be updated as process agents have been replaced or if additional states and corresponding agents are added.
What Needs to be Done First
If you are starting a trucking company, you already know the amount of paperwork and filing that must be done before you can get your new business off the ground. First you must fill out an OP-1 application with the FMCSA to obtain motor carrier authority. Then you must complete forms MCS-150 and MSC-150A, which are a motor carrier identification report and a safety certification application, respectively, in order to receive a US DOT number.
Unfortunately, once these documents are sent, they are posted by the FMCSA and made public. This means that many companies that act as process agents are apt to blow up your phone and knock down your door. This because choosing process agents and filing your BOC-3 form is the next step in your registration process.
However, not all companies are who they claim to be. To ensure that each of your options is a legitimate process agent, take a look at the FMCSA list of registered process agents in each state. Scott Frank of Baton Rouge Process Servers can be found on this list as a Louisiana process agent, and he will gladly handle all filings, legal paperwork, and process of service on your freight forwarding company’s behalf as it pertains to our beautiful state. He will also proudly act as your representative between your business and the office of the Secretary of State in Louisiana.