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Freight broker license requirements

If you’re looking to get into the transportation industry, becoming a freight broker can be a rewarding career choice. But before you can start working as a freight broker, you need to obtain a freight broker license.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to do that, including:

  • What freight broker jobs entail
  • The differences between freight broker and freight agent requirements
  • Costs associated with obtaining a license
  • Frequently asked industry questions

So, let’s dive in. And when you’re finished, be sure to read more in our ‘Freight broker job requirements article series:

What is a freight broker job?

A freight broker is a person or company that acts as an intermediary between shippers and carriers to arrange and coordinate the transportation of goods. The job involves finding and negotiating with carriers to move freight efficiently and cost-effectively.

Freight brokers are responsible for ensuring the timely delivery of goods and managing the logistics of transportation. They must have strong communication and organizational skills, the ability to multitask and problem-solve, and be familiar with industry regulations.

Most freight brokerages require brokers to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Ideally, you should also have some experience in the transportation logistics industry. 

It’s important to note that the licensing requirements and processes can vary by state and country. Make sure you research the specific guidelines in your location. Read more in What is a freight broker? article. 

Do freight brokers need a license?

Yes, freight brokers in the U.S. typically need a license to operate legally. The specific license required is the freight broker’s license, also known as the property broker’s license, issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). This license ensures that brokers comply with the regulations and standards set by the FMCSA, and allows them to arrange transportation services between shippers and carriers.

You should note that broker authority and licensing refer to different aspects of operating as a freight broker in the U.S. Broker authority, also called operating authority or brokerage authority, is the legal authorization granted by the FMCSA to conduct business as a freight broker. It allows brokers to arrange transportation services between shippers and carriers. A freight broker license is usually required in addition to broker authority. 

How to get a freight broker license

Are you wondering, “how do I get a freight broker license?” Obtaining the actual truck broker license involves several steps. 

Here’s how to become a licensed freight broker:

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements: To become a licensed freight broker, you must meet the freight broker license requirements, which include being a U.S. citizen, being at least 18 years old, and having a clean criminal record.
  2. Obtain a surety bond: You must obtain a surety bond in the amount of $75,000 from a bonding company. The bond serves as a guarantee that you will abide by all industry regulations and pay carriers on time.
  3. Register with the FMCSA: You must register with the FMCSA and obtain a USDOT number and Motor Carrier (MC) number.
  4. Complete the application process: You must complete the freight broker license application process, which includes submitting proof of insurance, a business plan, and other documentation.
  5. Pass the broker license exam: After completing the application process, you must pass the freight broker license test. This confirms your knowledge of industry regulations, business practices, and ethical standards. Don’t forget to factor in freight broker school costs. 

Once you’ve obtained your broker freight license, you can begin working with shippers and carriers to transport goods and build your business. Learn more about How to become a freight broker

Freight broker vs freight agent

Freight brokers are different from freight agents, with separate qualifications and responsibilities. For instance, they must have a property broker’s license, the already-mentioned security bond of at least $75,000, and insurance. Their broker authority empowers them to arrange transportation services between shippers and carriers. Legally, they are responsible for whatever happens to the cargo they transport, and the accurate documentation of all invoices, receivables, collections, etc.

A freight agent doesn’t have a trucker broker license through the FMCSA. They simply act as a middleman between the carriers and the customers. They function largely as a sales agent selling a service. Freight agents don’t have operating rights, and aren’t legally responsible for their cargo or anything that happens with it. 

Freight broker license costs

Now that we’ve covered how to get your broker license for trucking, you’re probably wondering how much they cost.

The cost of a broker license for trucking can vary by state and typically range from $300 to $1,500, including application fees and surety bond requirements.

Some states may also require additional fees for a broker’s license for trucking. These include background checks or exams. It’s best to check with your state’s regulatory agency on brokerage authority for the most updated and accurate pricing information. 

Start the process of becoming a licensed freight broker

Becoming a transportation broker may seem like a daunting process, but now that you know how to get freight broker licenses for yourself and potential employees, why put it off? Once you start taking the steps to earn your license, a rewarding new career could be just around the corner. 


What is a freight broker bond?

A freight broker bond is a type of surety bond that freight brokers need to obtain to ensure financial protection for their clients and carriers. The amount of the bond varies but is typically around $75,000.

How much do freight brokers make?

Freight brokers’ earnings can vary, but the average salary ranges from $30,000 to over $100,000 per year, depending on factors such as experience and market conditions.

How do freight brokers find loads?

Freight brokers find loads through various methods, including online load boards, establishing relationships with shippers and carriers, and utilizing freight brokerage software that connects them with available loads and transportation providers.

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