The trucking industry in the United States is quite lucrative, and there are currently plenty of opportunities thanks to older drivers aging out of the workforce at record rates.
Independent contractors who want to take full advantage of the situation often become carriers for freight brokerages or logistics firms, giving them access to new clients and well-paid work. They must fill out carrier packets to become successful carriers with these companies.
What Is a Carrier Packet?
Carrier packets like those found at easelogistics.com are used to onboard new carriers and facilitate setup so that they can get approved to haul the right kinds of freight. Each packet contains various contracts, documents, and agreements that the driver must complete and return to the broker before they can take their first job.
Carrier packets aren’t just about communicating expectations from the company and getting a signed contract in place. They are also required to ensure compliance with the various regulatory entities that oversee the freight transport industry, including the Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and others.
4 Steps to Take to Complete the Carrier Packet
Every company’s carrier packet will be slightly different. However, they all contain some of the same types of documents. Here’s what to expect when completing the carrier packet:
Step One: Meeting Criteria
The first step is for a driver to make sure they meet all of the criteria set forth by the brokerage or logistics company for its carriers. Legally, all truckers in the United States must carry a commercial license, be assigned an FMCSA Motor Carrier number, and have active operating insurance.
However, most companies also impose other criteria for becoming a carrier. These criteria can include:
- Safety scores of “None” or “satisfactory” and a BIPD kept on file
- A lack of FreightGuard reports regarding serious issues like hostage loads, double brokering, or unresolved claims
- Limited FreightGuard reports regarding service with responses from the driver as applicable
- Lack of official brokerage or freight forwarding authority connections
- And others
Again, some companies have stricter criteria for their carriers than others. Newer drivers without as much experience behind the wheel may have a harder time with finding a freight brokerage that will accept them.
Step Two: Request and Review the Carrier Packet
If eligible, the driver should request a carrier packet from the brokerage. This carrier packet will include information in the broker-carrier agreement regarding invoicing procedures, cargo limitations, contract dates, the number of days until payment, and more.
Review all of this information to make sure that it looks complete and correct, and be sure that the broker provides proof that they have a freight broker surety bond in place if required by state law.
Step Three: Collect Relevant Documents and Information
The carrier packet will require drivers to provide certain information about their professional histories. Collecting all of the information in advance makes it easier to fill out the paperwork correctly and provide copies of essential documents. They will include:
- The carrier’s company name and mailing address
- An MC number
- An insurance certificate
- Safety rating documentation
- A CDL with the correct designation
- DOT and Federal ID numbers
- Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) number
Carriers should expect to be required to provide proof of things like insurance coverage and appropriate licenses and certifications. They will also need to fill out a W-9 form so that the brokerage can report payments to the IRS as required by law.
Step Four: Complete and Return Forms
Finally, the carrier should complete all of the required forms and double-check them to ensure that the information is correct. The forms can then be returned to the freight broker or logistics company for review.
Keep in mind that this process can take some time, as brokers are required to verify that carriers have provided all the essential information required by the relevant regulatory bodies.
Why Does Everyone Use Carrier Packets?
From traditional freight brokerages to logistics companies, just about every potential client or employer uses carrier packets. They have good reasons for doing so.
As much as drivers may feel that completing all of the required forms and providing relevant documentation can be a hassle, these agreements mitigate risk for both brokers and carriers.
The information contained within a carrier packet helps freight brokers and other employers verify that a carrier is qualified to haul the kind of load in question.
The contractual agreement provided in the packet will also outline things like payment terms and responsibilities, specifics regarding liability, expectations for cargo handling and delivery times, and other important requirements.
Why It’s Worth the Hassle
Carriers who want to receive consistent loads have little choice but to find a broker or logistics company that will hire them, which requires meeting certain eligibility criteria and filling out the carrier packet. In return, the drivers get access to whole new markets.
Brokers know the value of a good carrier, so they will continue to give loads to the same drivers repeatedly as long as they perform up to expectations. These long-term relationships can be as valuable to carriers as they are to shippers.
Currently, drivers are in high demand. However, that situation won’t last forever. Carriers that are willing to take the time to develop relationships with brokers, logistics companies, and other shippers now will benefit during market downturns since by then, they will have established themselves as carriers of choice.
As younger drivers begin to enter the industry in response to increasingly competitive rates, established carriers will be in a better position to sustain themselves effectively.
The Next Move for Successful Carriers
The next move for drivers who want to become more successful carriers is to look into logistics companies and other shippers that can provide steady work.
Independent contractors can find a company, check the criteria to make sure they qualify, and then request a carrier packet. From there, simply fill out all of the forms and provide the required documentation now to start building relationships for the future.