United States: USDOT’s Latest Announcement On Mexican Trucks: A Turning Point Or Another Non-Event?

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA") took effect on January 1, 1994, the United States has been obligated to phase in U.S. market access for Mexico-based trucking companies. Mexico undertook, and has implemented, a reciprocal obligation toward U.S.-based carriers. In December 1995, however, the United States Department of Transportation ("USDOT") placed an indefinite hold on implementing the NAFTA motor carrier access provisions relating to Mexico. During the ensuing nineteen years, successive Congresses—at the behest of labor groups and self-appointed "safety" advocates—have hamstrung efforts at broad implementation of those provisions.

Recent U.S. administrations have made sporadic efforts to uphold their end of the NAFTA bargain. A "demonstration project" announced in 2007 allowed 28 small Mexican motor carriers to operate in the U.S. under a stringent safety inspection regime, but was squelched in March 2009 by further legislation. A more elaborate "Pilot Program" announced in April 2011 was intended to test the ability of Mexican carriers to operate safety in the U.S. over a three-year term ending in October 2014. This program attracted even fewer carrier participants, however, because of ongoing litigation, its inherent term limitation, and the procedural hurdles mandated by Congress.

Will the third time be the charm? Perhaps. On January 15, 2015, USDOT's  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") cited the "successful completion of the Pilot Program" in announcing that it would "again accept applications from Mexico-domiciled motor carriers seeking authority to operate in long-haul [truck] transportation" extending into the U.S. interior (80 Fed. Reg. 2179). In a report to Congress dated January 9, 2015, (available here) in Docket FMCSA-2011-0097 (the Report), FMCSA further stated that the 13 carriers "participating in the Pilot Program at its completion" were receiving "new authority...to continue long-haul operations in the United States" (Report, at p.2).

In the Report, FMCSA implicitly answered the "safety" advocates with 16 pages of statistics on safety performance by Mexican trucks during the period of the Pilot Program. Interestingly, the statistics included not only the carriers participating in the Pilot, but 260 other Mexican truck fleets with pre-existing authority to haul exempt commodities or provide private carriage ("certificate carriers"), as well as 692 Mexican-controlled fleets that were domiciled in the U.S. ("enterprise carriers") (Report, at pp. 3-4). The study concluded that these three categories of carriers collectively "had safety records that were equal to or better than the national average for U.S. and Canadian motor carriers operating in the United States" (Report, at p. 1).

It remains to be seen whether these statistics will silence the perennial critics of Mexican truck access to the U.S., and result in permanent implementation of the NAFTA trucking provisions. Congressional reaction to FMCSA's January 15 announcement has been notably absent thus far.

If FMCSA's announcement does "stick," Mexican carriers interested in crossing the U.S. border will need to understand both the similarities and the differences between the long-haul cross-border operations that were permitted under the Pilot Program and those for which FMCSA operating authority will be available now. A few particulars follow.

First, some of the similarities. Future authorities granted to Mexican carriers, like those granted under the Pilot, will be limited to "international traffic" between the U.S. and Mexico (Report, p. 10; compare 49 CFR § 365.801(b)). Applications for future authorities, like applications under the Pilot, will require completion of FMCSA's Form OP-1(MX), which extends to 39 pages in a bilingual hard-copy format (plus 12 pages of instructions in Spanish). This form includes many questions (including "essay questions" on safety management) which FMCSA does not currently pose to non-Mexican motor carrier applicants.

On the other hand, future non-Pilot operating authorities for Mexican carriers will be less restrictive in some respects. For example, future applicants will be able (if approved) to transport placardable quantities of hazardous materials (Report, p. 10; compare pp. 10, 19-20 of Form OP-1(MX)). Their U.S. operations will not be limited to particular drivers and vehicles specifically approved by FMCSA; particular vehicles will not be required to have electronic monitoring devices, and these carriers will not necessarily be subject to safety inspections every time they cross the border (Report, pp. 22, 28, 30, 32). Instead, these carriers will be subject to the same safety monitoring (including interventions under the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program or CSA, plus on-site compliance reviews if issues are detected) as non-Mexican motor carriers regulated by FMCSA (Report, pp. 36-37).

Mexican interests not wishing to deal with the complexities of the OP-1(MX) application process have another set of options during the next few months. If they establish or acquire a U.S.-domiciled "enterprise carrier" under their ownership or control, the current application process uses the much simpler OP-1 form. An "enterprise carrier" is still prohibited from transporting U.S. domestic traffic (see Form OP-1, section II), but even this limitation can be avoided if the Mexican party confines its equity in the U.S.-domiciled carrier to a non-controlling investment. Mexican interests desiring to establish an "enterprise carrier" may want to act in the next few months because the current OP-1 form is likely to be replaced this summer by one that will be hardly less complex than the OP-1(MX) form.

The above discussion only scratches the surface of the regulatory issues that Mexican carriers would have to deal with in order to enter the U.S. market.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions