Becoming a freight broker in Indiana requires attention to detail, effective communication, quick problem-solving abilities, and a freight broker license.
All Indiana freight broker licenses—like all other U.S. freight broker licenses—are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This license ensures that a licensee follows the ethics and laws related to the profession and allows them to legally perform freight brokering tasks.
Common tasks done as part of a freight broker's job include:
- Connecting clients (shippers with freight to move) with transporters (trucking companies and other carriers).
- Negotiating pricing with both parties.
- Finding and assessing potential transporters using load boards and outreach.
- Coordinating freight movement with shippers, carriers, and dispatchers.
- Tracking shipments from their departure to destination.
- Updating all parties on shipment status.
- Quickly and efficiently dealing with any issues that arise.
- Filling out paperwork and invoicing.
- Understanding and staying up to date with all shipping and transportation industry laws.
Read our guide below to learn more about getting a freight broker license in Indiana. We break down all license requirements, from getting the right surety bond to designating process agents and beyond.
Requirements to Become a Freight Broker in Indiana
There are no state-specific requirements to become an Indiana freight broker. Instead, licensing is done at a federal level through the FMCSA. An FMCSA freight broker license has no post-secondary education requirements—applicants only need a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED.
To obtain this license, you will also need:
- An Employment Insurance Number (EIN)
- A U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Number & PIN
- A Motor Carrier Number (MC Number)
- A $75,000 Freight Broker Bond (BMC 84 Bond) or Trust Fund Agreement
- Business Insurance
- An Indiana Process Agent
The step-by-step guide below goes through each of these requirements in more detail.
Steps to Get a Freight Broker License in Indiana
Step 1: Choose a Business Structure
Planning to work for an existing brokerage? Head to Step 3 (Step 1 & 2 only apply to those starting their own freight brokerage).
Your business structure affects everything from the taxes you file to your personal liability. The four main structure choices are:
- Sole Proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration Business Guide for more information.
Step 2. Register Your Business
The Indiana Secretary of State – state business registration, including business name registration.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – obtain a Employment Identification Number (EIN).
The Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) – Tax Identification Numbers (TIDs) to pay state taxes.
Depending on your business structure and the city/county you plan to operate, you may need additional permits and registrations. For more info on registering a business in Indiana, visit the Start Your Business Guide from Indiana's DOR.
Step 3: Apply for a USDOT Number & USDOT PIN
All U.S. Department of Transportation Number registrations are done online through the FMCSA.
- Visit the Unified Registration System (URS) and follow the prompts. If your application is successful, you will receive both a USDOT Number and USDOT PIN.
Step 4: Pick Your Operating Authority
Your operating authority dictates the type of freight that you can broker. The two types of broker operating authorities available are:
- Broker of Property: arranges the transportation of property (excluding household goods) belonging to others using an authorized Motor Carrier.
- Broker of Household Goods: arranges the transportation of household goods (personal items and property that is used in a home) belonging to others using an authorized Motor Carrier.
Important: You can choose both types of operating authorities. However, you must pay the application fee (currently $300) for each operating authority you apply for.
Step 5: Apply for Your Operating Authority/Broker Authority
- Use the Unified Registration System (URS) to apply for your operating authority, also known as a broker authority. Each authority you apply for has an application fee (currently $300). Successful applicants will get a Motor Carrier Number (MC Number).
Note: This step was formerly done with an OP-1 form. However, OP-series forms can now ONLY be used to apply for additional authorities—all initial registration must be done through the URS.
Step 6: Get a Freight Broker Surety Bond
All freight brokers registered with the FMCSA must have one of the following:
- $75,000 trust fund agreement (form BMC-85)
- $75,000 freight broker bond (form BMC-84)
Why? It provides a financial guarantee that a freight broker will conduct business ethically and lawfully. If they fail to do so, the trust fund agreement or surety bond pays for any losses or damages resulting from the broker's negligence.
Many freight brokers opt to get bonded since it doesn't tie up $75,000 in cash—it only costs a small fraction of the total bond amount. Those with a good credit score pay approximately 1% - 5% of the $75,000 ($750 - $3,750) to get bonded.
Have bad credit? You can often still get a freight broker bond at a slightly higher rate. See our Bad Credit Surety Bond Guide for more information and answers to FAQs.
Step 7: Get Insured
The operating authority you choose dictates which type of insurance policies you need. Common policies required include:
- Bodily injury and property damage insurance (Form BMC-91 or BMC-91X)
- Cargo liability insurance (BMC-34)
However, the FMCSA may not have any insurance filing requirements in some cases. If your operating authority does require an insurance filing, ensure that your insurance company completes it within 90 days of your application date. Otherwise, your application will be voided, and your application fee is non-refundable.
Step 8: Get an Indiana Process Agent
For the state of Indiana and every other state that you plan to write contracts or have an office, you must designate a process agent for that location. A process agent, also known as a processing agent, is a legal representative who will get served the paperwork if a claim is filed against you.
Operating in multiple states? You may want to consider a blanket company to add ease to the designation process—this type of company can provide process agents that work in every state.
- To designate an Indiana process agent, submit form BOC-3 to the FMCSA. If you work with a blanket company, they can complete this step on your behalf.
Indiana Freight Broker Training Programs
Attending a freight broker school or taking a freight broker training course is not required to become a licensed freight broker in Indiana. However, these specialized training programs are highly advantageous when entering the world of freight brokering. By covering everything from freight brokering basics to the logistics of running a freight brokerage, they give you all the knowledge you need to become a successful freight broker. Additionally, they are invaluable for gaining employment and making connections in the industry.
Top Indiana Freight Broker Training Programs include:
- Brooke Transportation Training Solutions: Offers online or in-person freight broker/ freight agent training in Indianapolis, IL. Their 5-day in-person course gives you all the knowledge required to build a successful freight brokerage, from registration to day-to-day operations.
- Indiana University South Bend: This online freight broker training is completely self-paced. Their curriculum contains real-life examples that tie into daily operations, transportation law, sales, marketing, and more.
Career Growth and Salary Expectations of a Freight Broker
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected growth rate for freight broker jobs is 5% from 2018-2028. In 2023, Indiana specifically had 104 job openings in September [ Source: Zippia ].
How much do freight brokers make in Indiana?
An Indiana freight broker's salary is close to the national average ($52,390). The amount a freight broker makes heavily depends on both experience and location. See the chart below for top-paying cities for freight brokers in Indiana.
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