How to Get a Freight Broker License in Missouri

Missouri freight brokers are essential to keeping the supply chain running efficiently. They take on the task of finding suitable transportation for cargo to get it to its destination quickly and competently. In short, they act as intermediaries for shippers (those with freight to ship) and transporters (transportation companies). To successfully do this job, a freight broker must:

  • Have excellent communication skills.
  • Be able to negotiate pricing and contracts. 
  • Have recordkeeping abilities.
  • Understand both the transportation industry and shipping industry.

See What Does a Freight Broker Do? to learn more about freight broker duties.

If this aligns with your abilities or interests, you should consider getting a Missouri freight broker license. Read on to learn more about the requirements to become a licensed freight broker in Missouri—we've included an easy-to-follow breakdown of the licensing process.

Licensing Requirements for a Freight Broker in Missouri

There are no state-specific licensing requirements for Missouri freight brokers. Instead, all freight brokers in Missouri must get licensed at the federal level through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

All license applicants must be 18 years or older and have (or be able to get):

  1. A high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED.
  2. No disqualifying criminal convictions.
  3. U.S. Department of Transportation Number (USDOT Number).
  4. Motor Carrier Number (MC Number).
  5. Freight Broker Bond or Trust Fund Agreement.
  6. Insurance.
  7. Missouri process agent.

The guide below covers getting requirements 3 - 7 in more detail.

Steps to Get a Freight Broker License in Missouri

Step 1: Register Your Freight Brokerage Business (Optional)

Note: If you plan to work for an existing brokerage, skip to Step 2. 

While starting your own freight broker business comes with additional costs and liabilities, it also has the potential for higher profitability. However, if you want to start your own brokerage from the get-go, you will need to tend to a bit of extra paperwork before diving into your application. 

  • Choose a business structure. The one you choose will affect your level of liability and tax filing requirements. The main structures to choose from include sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC). 
  • Register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They will provide you with an Employment Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number (FEIN). This unique number is used to identify your business in tax filings and paperwork, including your freight broker license application. 
  • Register with the Missouri Secretary of State's Office. If you are operating your brokerage under a name other than your own), then you must do a fictitious name filing. 

Step 2: Choose a Type of Operating Authority

Your operating authority dictates the types of freight that you can broker. It is a self-classification, and the two types a freight broker can choose from are: 

  • Broker of Property (except Household Goods): Arranges the transportation of property (excluding household goods) belonging to others by using an authorized Motor Carrier.  
  • Broker of Household Goods: arranges the transportation of household goods belonging to others by using an authorized Motor Carrier. Household goods are personal items and property that will be used in a home.

With either of these operating authorities, the broker never takes possession of the goods.

Step 3: Fill Out Your Licensing Application

Freight broker license applications are available online through the FMCSA's Unified Registration System (URS).

To complete this application form, you will need:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Dun and Bradstreet Number (if available).
  • Company Officers with Titles.
  • Credit card to pay the application fee. Each authority you apply for has a fee (currently $300). 

Successful applicants will receive their operating authority (MC Number), a USDOT Number, and a USDOT PIN.

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 4: Get a Freight Broker Surety Bond

All applicants must get one of the following within 90 days of submitting their licensing application.

  • $75,000 freight broker bond (form BMC-84)
  • $75,000 trust fund agreement (form BMC-85) 

The benefit of getting a freight broker bond is that it doesn't tie up $75,000 cash or assets—which is why many applicants choose it. This surety bond costs a small fraction (1% - 5%) of the total bond amount ($75,000) for those with a good credit score. Therefore, on average, this bond costs $750 - $3,750.

Get a free freight broker bond quote to see your qualifying rate.

Have bad credit? You can often still secure this bond at a higher rate. Visit our Bad Credit Surety Bond Guide for more information and answers to FAQs.

Step 5: File Your Insurance Forms

Common insurance policies that the FMCSA requires include: 

  • Bodily injury and property damage insurance (Form BMC-91 or BMC-91X)
  • Cargo liability insurance (BMC-34)

See insurance filing requirements for more information. If you do need a policy, your insurance company can file the required forms on your behalf. 

Freight Broker Bonds vs. Insurance

Freight broker bonds protect shippers/motor carriers, not freight brokers.However, freight broker insurance does protect freight brokers. 

Many new freight brokers that invest the bare minimum on insurance coverage quickly realize they are disqualified from working with larger shippers. Each year, more freight brokers are pulled into litigation, and ultimately go out of business due to huge judgments and legal fees they can’t afford.

Although insurance is not required to operate, the most important reasons to have it in place are to:

  • Protect your bottom line
  • Create increased security around your bond, and avoid leaving yourself open to paying legal fees by not purchasing insurance.
  • Increase top line: by having insurance, you become more attractive in today's marketplace to shippers and wholesalers.

Freight Broker Insurance Types

There are several types of insurance coverages that are recommended for freight brokers; please see the list below:

  • Business owner’s policy (BOP)
  • General liability
  • Workers' compensation
  • Commercial auto
  • Professional liability/errors and omissions (E&O)
  • Contingent cargo
  • Contingent auto liability

If you’d like to learn more about all of the insurance coverages available to you, please read our freight broker insurance guide.

Step 6: Get a Missouri Process Agent

To make an FMCSA freight broker license valid in Missouri, you must designate a Missouri process agent—a legal representative who gets served the paperwork if a claim is filed against you. You must designate a process agent for any state where you plan to write contracts or have an office [Subtitle B, Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations]. 

  • Electronically file a designation of process agent (Form BOC-3) with the FMCSA. If you're working with a blanket company—a company that provides process agents that work in every state—they can complete this step on your behalf. 

Important: Evidence of filing a process agent designation is required before FMCSA will issue your operating authority. If this step, along with Step 4 & Step 5, aren't complete within 90 days of your application filing date, your licensing application will become void, and the fee is non-refundable. 

Freight Broker Programs in Missouri

You don't need to complete a freight broker training course to get licensed. However, enrollment in one of these training programs comes highly recommended as they:

  • Teach students how to be a successful freight broker, from the basics of freight brokering to business startup.
  • Go over brokering software and load boards.
  • Lay out freight broker salary expectations and how to make more money. 
  • Cover contract negotiation tactics. 
  • Connect students with industry professionals and experienced freight brokers.
  • Help graduates find employment.

Many Missouri freight broker/agent training courses are self-paced and online. Popular programs include the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), the University of Central Missouri, and Northwest Missouri State University. 

Continued Reading: Top Freight Broker Schools in the U.S. 

Freight Broker Career Outlook

The U.S. freight brokerage market is estimated to reach 16.58 billion in 2023, growing to 24.75 billion by 2028. With this growth comes a projected increase in freight broker positions—including freight broker jobs in Missouri. 

MO currently ranks 17 out of 50 states for the most freight broker job openings. The state employs over 2,500 cargo and freight agents [ Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ].

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