How to Get a Freight Broker License in Illinois

Published: Aug 21, 2023
How to Get a Freight Broker License in Illinois


If you're considering working in the transportation services and logistics industry as a freight broker in Illinois, you must first navigate the process of obtaining a freight broker license. This essential license is mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and encompasses a range of requirements, including obtaining a BMC-84 bond or BMC-85 trust fund agreement of $75,000.
To help you successfully apply and receive your freight broker license, this guide will walk you through the entire process, including the requirements, costs, and the key steps to obtaining a license. Read on to learn more.

Working as a Freight Broker in Illinois

Working as an Illinois freight broker can be a rewarding and lucrative career path, and with one of the highest levels of employment in cargo and freight, Illinois is a good place to kick off your career. Your responsibilities will include connecting shippers who need to transport goods with carriers who can fulfill those transportation needs. This involves negotiating rates, managing logistics, and ensuring the smooth movement of freight from point A to point B.
Freight brokers play a vital role in the supply chain, helping businesses of all sizes efficiently move their products and goods across the state and beyond. Since freight brokers are tasked with keeping supply chains running, there is a level of responsibility attached to the role, and for this reason freight brokers must be fully licensed and obtain a surety bond to ensure that all stakeholders are protected.

Requirements for Obtaining a Freight Broker License in Illinois

While there are no specific requirements outlined by the state of Illinois for obtaining a freight broker license, certain essential considerations should be addressed before beginning the application process. These prerequisites underscore your professionalism and preparedness as a prospective freight broker:

  • Education — A high school diploma, GED, or equivalent educational qualification is essential to establish the foundational knowledge and skills required for successful freight brokering.
  • Training Program: Enrolling in a reputable freight broker training program can significantly enhance your capabilities and credibility within the industry, contributing to business success and growth potential.
  • Minimum Age — You must be at least 18 years old, demonstrating the legal capacity required for engaging in contractual agreements.
  • Clean Record — A clean criminal record is vital to establish your integrity and trustworthiness as a broker.
  • Insurance — Providing proof of liability and cargo insurance is essential to protect both your business and the goods you broker.
  • Bond Amount — Illinois mandates freight broker surety bond of $75,000, serving as a financial guarantee that you fulfill contractual obligations to carriers and shippers.

 Step-by-Step Process to Obtain a Freight Broker License in Illinois

Getting your freight broker license is a process that can be completed by following these steps and meeting all of the relevant criteria. Ensure you familiarize yourself with each step and that any paperwork is ready to be sent along with your application.

  1. Establish Your Business Entity

    Start the process by creating your chosen legal business entity. Selecting a suitable business name, registering it, and obtaining any mandatory licenses and permits are crucial aspects of this step.

  2. Register with the FMCSA and Obtain a USDOT Number.

    The FMCSA's online platform includes access to the registration process for a USDOT number. This identifier serves as a cornerstone for tracking your business activities within the transportation industry.

  3. Designation of a Process Agent.

    Identify and appoint a process agent within Illinois as part of your FMCSA registration. This individual or entity acts as your representative for legal matters, ensuring effective handling of legal documents and communications across state lines. All process agents must be listed on a BOC-3 form.

  4. Secure Your Freight Broker Bond (BMC-84).

    Work with a reputable surety company through the bonding process and acquire the essential BMC-84 surety bond. The cost of this bond depends on factors like the required bond amount ($75,000) and your credit score.

  5. Obtain Insurance Coverage.

    Contact an insurance company to discuss your requirements, including general liability insurance and contingent cargo insurance. Collaborate with insurance experts to determine optimal coverage limits and ensure your operations are safeguarded.

  6. Submit Your Application to the FMCSA.

    Prepare and submit your comprehensive freight broker license application to the FMCSA. Accuracy and completeness are paramount at this stage, as any discrepancies could impede the approval process.

  7. Application Review and Approval.

    Upon submission, the FMCSA undertakes a review of your application, evaluating components such as business entity formation, USDOT number, process agent designation, freight broker bond, and insurance coverage. Successful completion of this review culminates in the issuance of your freight broker license.

 How Much Does It Cost to Get a Freight Broker License in Illinois?

Throughout your application and business operation you will be required to pay certain costs and fees. Many of these expenses will be tied to the size of your business and your personal credit score. Below we look at the areas where you can accrue fees and costs.

  • Business Entity Formation — Establishing your legal business entity involves a range of expenses, ranging from state filing fees to professional legal services.
  • Designated Process Agent — Costs associated with designating a process agent vary and will depend on factors such as the agent's fees.
  • Freight Broker Bond (BMC-84) — Expenses for the BMC-84 will be determined by the brokerage firm and will be tied to your credit score. These costs a percentage of the total bond amount, which in this case is $75,000. If you have bad credit, you can still get a bond, although the premium is likely to be higher.
  • Insurance Coverage — General liability insurance and contingent cargo insurance premiums fluctuate based on coverage parameters and your business's risk profile.

Contact Lance Surety Bonds today for a free quote and to discuss your transportation broker bond.


How Long Does It Take to Complete the Freight Broker License Application Process?

The timeline for navigating the freight broker license application process is variable. Preparing the necessary documents, establishing your business entity, obtaining a freight broker bond, and acquiring insurance coverage typically consume several weeks. After submitting your application to the FMCSA, a review and approval period of a few weeks is also likely.

What Happens if Your Freight Broker License Application Is Denied?

Should your freight broker license application encounter a denial from the FMCSA, a notification detailing the rationale for the rejection will be provided. Common causes for denial encompass incomplete or inaccurate information, non-compliance with requirements, or concerns related to financial responsibility. In the event of denial, rectifying the highlighted issues and resubmitting your application upon resolution is the recommended course of action.

How Long Is the Freight Broker License Valid For?

Upon successfully obtaining your freight broker license, it remains valid for an indefinite period. However, it's important to maintain compliance with FMCSA regulations and fulfill any ongoing obligations to ensure the continuous.

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About Lance Surety Bonds

Lance Surety Bond Associates, Inc. is a surety bond agency based out of southeastern Pennsylvania that is able to write all surety bond types in all 50 states. We are dedicated to servicing all of our customers' surety bonding needs throughout the country and guarantee competitive rates, timely responses, and unparalleled customer service.

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