|Prior to the transfer of its functions to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in 1995, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was the chief federal regulatory body governing transportation vehicles in the U.S. It was created in 1887 to monitor railroad transportation. The main functions of the commission were:
While most of the commission's work has been absorbed by the STB, one particular emblem remains on older fleets. This is the Interstate Commerce Commission Motor Carrier (or ICC MC) number, an identification system displayed on the cabs and trailers of trucks. This number is particularly important to the moving industry as it was required for all interstate moving trucks through 1995 and continues to be displayed on vehicles of long-established companies.
- To ensure fair rates and tariffs were in place
- To reduce discrimination and bias against Western farmers
- To put a control on common carriers that would monitor their actions
- To collect information from carriers to better serve the transportation industry
- To regulate early long-distance telephone and telegraph services, which was soon transferred to the Federal Communications Commission
What the ICC MC number covered
The regulations for an ICC MC number were very similar to the current regulations for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) operating authority. All transportation companies that move across state lines must have this operating authority, which dictates what specifically may be transported. For instance, certain companies may have the authority to transport meat but not other refrigerated foods or beverages. Movers must be authorized to carry household goods in order to legally ship belongings.
Depending on the operating authority granted, the companies could receive MC, MX, or FF designations. The most common for household movers are MC numbers.
Once granted, the motor carrier number permitted carriers to perform interstate operations. The terms were very strict and dictated the company's required operations, types of cargo, and geographical areas of operation.
The importance of ICC MC numbers
Before the creation of the US DOT number, the ICC MC number was the prime source for checking a moving company's ability to legally perform interstate moves. Customers could easily look up the number and see if the mover's vehicles were operating legally. Motor carriers that displayed these numbers were required to be licensed and were scrutinized by the government, so it was easier to launch complaints against them for loss or damage to belongings.
Even though the number was phased out beginning in 1995, many older carriers still display the numbers on their fleet vehicles. Though it is always important to check for counterfeit numbers, if a mover does have an authentic ICC MC number, this shows that they have been operating since 1995 and adds credibility to their name. This is added peace of mind that you receive when selecting an older, well-established mover.
TIP: The Department of Transportation maintains a utility that allows users to see whether or not particular interstate movers have active MC Numbers. It is available here.
The system also allows the user to check licensure and insurance coverage for individual companies, and it provides contact information for the company's headquarters.
While the ICC MC number is no longer issued, it still remains a crucial component in the relocation industry that helps customers find reputable licensed and insured movers.