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Is a MCS 150 biennial update good enough?

HNI Associate Vice President

A few of our transportation clients in Wisconsin have reported an issue renewing their plates that we thought others would like to know about.  The FMCSA requires all motor carriers to update their Motor Carrier Identification Report (MCS-150) every 24 months – but as a participant in PRISM, Wisconsin and many other states now require this to be updated when renewing your IRP plates (every year). 

The message our customers are receiving they are going to renew their plates is this:

The Federal US DOT number form MCS-150 is out of date and must be current *within 2 years of the IRP Plate EXPIRATION DATE*.  The update will then reflect the following day for processing.  Update MCS-150 at www.safersys.org. 

In the past, many carriers received their US DOT number, and didn't go back to update their information on the MCS-150 every 24 months as required.  PRISM states are now using an automated enforcement mechanism to ensure carriers are updating their MCS-150.


PRISM stands for the Performance and Registration Information Systems Management program, an FMCSA initiative that aims to target the highest risk carriers and better allocate resources for compliance reviews and roadside inspections.  Grants are available to states that receive PRISM training and have a plan for implementing program goals.

The International Registration Plan (IRP) commercial vehicle registration process adopted by all U.S. states and Canadian provinces serves the framework for the PRISM Program.  When carriers register their vehicles, states are ensuring they are uniquely identified through DOT number and their information is up-to-date.  States may apply registration sanctions for unsafe carriers.

States that participate in PRISM use an automated system to check if carriers’ MCS-150 data will expire (i.e. exceed 24 months) before the new license plate expires.  If it does, they will refuse to renew the plates before the information is updated.

Who is participating in PRISM 

You can view a map of states participating in PRISM on the FMCSA’s website (41 now are.)  These are color coded based on where they are in the process of implementation:

Red – This denotes PRISM Level 1, or states that are currently collecting and validating USDOT numbers of the carrier responsible for safety (D.C., AZ, FL, IL, IN, LA, MA, PA, RI, VA)

Yellow – This denotes PRISM Level 2, or states that are enforcing the MCS-150 update, checking carrier safety status, and submitting target vehicles to SAFER (CA, CO, MT, NH, NY)

Green - This denotes PRISM Level 3, states that are denying, suspending, or revoking for Federal OOSO, barcoding PRISM specs, and having enforcement stop targeted vehicles (AK, AL, AR, CT, DE, GA, ID, IA, KS, KY, ME, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NM, OH, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI, WV)

Purple – States developing implementation plan to submit for approval (just WY currently)

Grey – States implementing an approved plan (ND, NJ, OK)

The goal of PRISM is for states to focus their enforcement resources on carriers with the worst safety records.  Specific practices vary state by state.  Some states have legislation in place enabling the enforcement of PRISM registration sanctions, while others have added administrative rules. 

How to update your MCS-150

You can download a copy of the MCS-150 and instructions here.  You may submit your MCS-150 electronically or by mail. FMCSA strongly encourages applicants to use the electronic online application process since it has built-in edit checks and simple yes-and-no questions for easy, accurate completion.

Any questions about this process?  Comment below and let us know.

Topics: Transportation