How Much Does it Cost to Become a Freight Broker or Freight Broker Agent in 2021?

As you can imagine, I get a lot of questions from visitors to my online freight broker and freight agent training blog. So I put together what I consider to the most comprehensive freight broker training articles on the topic.

Some frequently asked questions related to this topic include: 

How much does it cost to become a freight broker?

How much does it cost to become a freight broker agent?”

How much does a  freight broker authority cost?

How much does a freight broker license cost?

My response is always the same: ”It depends.”  

I don’t do that to be cute or funny, I do that because you have two choices.

1)  You can file for your freight broker authority, also known as a freight broker license through the FMCSA or

2) You become a freight broker agent first, which does not require you to get your freight broker authority or your freight broker surety bond.

I strongly suggest that if you are new to the industry or have limited experience, to get started as a freight broker agent. 

Why? 

Mainly because it limits your capital risk and allows you to earn while you learn. You’ll also save on startup costs because freight broker agents do not need a freight broker surety bond or a freight broker authority in order to get started.

The good news is, even if you start out as a freight broker agent you can always decide to get your freight broker license once you get a few customers and start generating profits.

In this article, I answer the question, how much does it cost to become a freight broker or a freight agent.

Including a comprehensive list for both that are designed to help you decide for yourself how you want to get started.

I go over all of the freight broker agent and the freight broker startup costs, including one-time costs, recurring costs, and optional costs.

At the end of the article, I also share my a freight broker profit calculator to help you do the math on how fast you can expect to earn back your investment.

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Freight Broker?

First of all, becoming a freight broker is more expensive than becoming a freight broker agent. That’s why many newcomers to the industry start as freight broker agents.

The costs to become a freight broker includes elements such as forming your corporation or LLC, getting your freight broker license, your freight broker surety bond, freight broker software, and freight broker insurance.

Let’s have a closer look at what this means for your costs.

Freight Broker Startup Costs 

LLC/Corp: $100 – $400 one time

Freight Broker authority cost: $300 one time

BOC3: $25 one time

Freight broker surety bond: $1,500 – $3,750 annually

Freight broker training cost: $185 – $1,000 one time

UCR: $59 annually

TMS: $50 – $100 per month

Load board: $50 – $150 per month

General liability insurance:  $300 – $1,000 per year (optional)

Contingent cargo insurance:  $100 – $400 per month (optional)

Website: $250 – $500 one time (optional)

Phone: $25-50 per month

One time cost: As low as $2,219

Recurring cost: As low as $100 per month

Optional cost: As low as $1,750

freight broker license cost

1. Corporation/LLC & Business Structure

The first thing you need is to form a corporation. The costs vary based upon which state you are in but you’ll notice they usually range from $100 – $400 one-time fee.

The #1 reason why you want to form a corporation for your freight broker business is to limit your liability. Without a corporation, owners can be liable for debts and liabilities of the business.

Filing for a corporation isn’t complicated either. Click here for a step by step walkthrough of  “How to Form A Corporation”

2. Freight Broker Broker Authority Cost 

You’ll also need a broker authority, this is often referred to as freight brokerage license. To file for your authority with the FMCSA, there is a one-time fee of $300 and it can all be done online.

3. Freight Broker BOC3

Another required freight broker fee is your BOC3. You need this as a requirement to get your broker authority. The one-time cost is $25.

A BOC3 is a federal filing in the United States that establishes a process agent which can accept legal documents on behalf of a freight broker, in each state in which the company is authorized to do business.

Here’s how to get your BOC3 as a freight broker. 

4. Freight Broker Surety Bonding Cost

You also need your freight broker bond, which is an FMCSA requirement in order to get your freight broker license/authority.   

The freight broker surety bond is designed to prevent fraud and to ensure that motor carriers get paid by freight brokers on time.

This is the biggest startup cost associated with becoming a freight broker. The typical cost for a freight broker bond is 2-5% of the total bond amount. 

The total freight broker surety bond amount required by the FMCSA is $75,000 – which makes your costs range from $1,500 – $3,750 annually.

Click here to learn more about freight broker surety bonds

5. Freight Broker Training

Next up we have freight broker training costs. The cost of freight broker training essentially depends on what style of training you choose. 

My online training Freight Broker Boot Camp starts at $185 one-time cost and you get access to everything you need as a new freight broker or freight agent to get started.  You could also try other training out there, most will set you back $1,000 to $5,000 or more.

I shared my thoughts previously about 3 Winning Strategies For Becoming A Freight Broker in 2021 where I break down the 3 best ways to learn how to become a freight broker.

6. Unified Carrier Registration (UCR)

Yes, every freight broker needs to complete the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR), a newer requirement that when starting a freight brokerage. The freight brokers UCR is currently $59 per year and can all be done online.

7. Freight Broker Software (TMS)

If you are going to be successful as a freight broker you are going to need a TMS, also known as transportation management software. 

If you are a freight broker startup, you don’t absolutely have to have this and could operate without it early in your business.

You could handle managing your loads on paper since the volume is going to be very small when you first start. But sooner or later you are going to need a TMS to manage your process.

Luckily freight broker software is very affordable these days and ranges from $50 to $100 per month.

8. Freight Broker Load Boards

Next, we have load boards. A load board is an online hub where freight brokers and motor carriers come together. Brokers post loads and carriers post trucks and both parties connect and work together for mutual benefit. 

It’s essential for any freight broker business. And while costs can vary depending on the load boards most are in the range of $50 and $150 a month depending upon the feature you desire.

9. General Liability Insurance 

As a freight broker, you may also want to have general liability insurance but it is not required. General liability insurance is an annual freight broker cost that typically costs between $300 and $1,000. 

It’s always a good idea to have insurance if you can afford it because it protects you from common lawsuits that arise from everyday business activities. Freight broker insurance is an optional cost for startups.

10. Contingent Cargo Insurance

Next up, we have freight broker contingent cargo insurance. People ask me about this one all the time, particularly when it comes to the topic of how much it costs to become a freight broker.

To be clear, contingent cargo is not required by the FMCSA and is an optional cost. But a small percentage of shippers do require it in order to be an approved provider.

Contingent cargo insurance is additional insurance that supplements the carrier’s primary cargo insurance that each carrier is required to have by law.

Costs range from $100 and $400 per month but once again, it’s optional. Most freight broker startups begin their journey without contingent cargo and then add it as needed down the road.

Read this short article for more info on freight broker insurance

11. Freight Broker Website

Having a website is optional, especially as a freight broker startup. But I would strongly recommend it. Creation and setup is a one-time cost which can vary widely but it’s not uncommon for new businesses to get up and running for $250 to $500.

Click here to learn how to get your freight broker website for as little as $50

12. Phone Service

For successful freight brokers, the phone is one of their most important tools. Since the advent of the internet, the cost of a business phone system has gone down dramatically.

Most freight broker startups rely on a low-cost VOIP phone system of which there are hundreds of options available. Here is a short list of some of the top VOIP providers for small businesses and startups. 

Plans usually start around $19.95 per month.

freight broker startup cost

Freight Broker Startup Cost Summary

One-time cost as low $2,000 – $5,000 depending upon your freight broker training cost and website choices. 

The required recurring freight broker cost estimate is between $200 to $400 a month.  

There could be additional recurring costs if you choose to get contingent cargo and general liability insurance which are both optional and not required to become a licensed freight broker.  

So as you can see becoming a freight broker has very low start-up costs as compared to popular franchise businesses that start at $100,000 on the low end and go up to $1 million plus.

Imagine starting your own freight broker business, working from home, and generating 6 or even 7 figures, all without a college degree. 

Now that you know the estimated freight broker cost, let’s see how much it costs to become a freight agent.

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Freight Broker Agent?

The costs difference between being a freight broker and becoming a freight agent are vastly different. 

I think it’s important to show both because then you can decide which best fits your budget. 

Fact is, you do not need to be a freight broker in order to break into the logistics industry, many freight agents earn a 6 figure income working from home.

Freight Agent Startup Cost – Overview

LLC/Corp: $100 – $400 one time

Freight broker authority cost: NOT REQUIRED

BOC3: NOT REQUIRED

Freight broker surety bond: NOT REQUIRED

Freight broker training cost: $185 – $1,000 one time

UCR: NOT REQUIRED

TMS: $0 – $100 per month 

Load board: $50 – $150 per month

General liability insurance:  $300 – $1,000 per year [OPTIONAL]

Contingent cargo insurance: NOT REQUIRED

Website: $0 – $500 one time (OPTIONAL)

Phone: $25 – $50 per month

One time cost: As low as $175

Recurring cost: As low as $75 per month

Optional cost: As low as $800

freight broker agent costs

1. Corporation/LLC & Business Structure

When becoming a freight broker agent, it is optional, but recommended to set up a corporation like an LLC. The reason you may want to consider a corporation as a freight agent is to limit your liability.  

It’s basically a shield to protect your personal assets like your home, for example. One time cost $100 – $400 depending upon the type of filing and the state you live in.

2. Freight Broker Authority Cost

Not required as you will work under a licensed freight broker.

3. BOC3

Not required as BOC3 is not required for freight broker agents.

4. Freight Broker Surety Bond

As a freight broker agent, you are not required to have a freight broker bond because that is handled by the freight broker authority you are operating under.  This is commonly misunderstood by people interesting in learning how to become a freight broker agent.

5. Freight Agent Training

Similar to a freight broker, a freight agent is going to need training. The cost to become a freight agent can start as low as $185 with an online course like Freight Broker Boot Camp. Other freight broker agent training options can range from $1,000 to $5,000 or more.  

6. UCR

The Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) is not required for independent freight broker agents.

7. Freight Agent Software (TMS)

Freight broker software like a transportation management software (TMS) will vary because some brokerages will cover the cost while others may ask you to pay for it. So the range is between $0 to $100 per month.

8. Freight Broker Agent Load Boards

The cost for load boards is usually around $50 to $150 per month, although some freight brokerages will cover all or part of the cost of load boards for their agents. 

Here is a link to more info about popular freight broker load boards

9. General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance is optional but would be roughly the same as for a licensed freight broker and can range from $300 to $1,000 per year.

10. Contingent Cargo Insurance

When becoming a freight agent you definitely don’t need contingent cargo insurance. Fact is, not even licensed freight brokers are not required to have it. If the broker you work under has contingent cargo that is just a bonus but either way, as a freight agent it costs you zero. 

11. Freight Agent Website

Most freight broker agents refer to the website and brand of the freight broker they are working with when speaking to prospects or customers. If you choose to create your own website, we estimate between $250 and $500 for a basic freight agent site.

12. Phone Service

One thing is certain, freight agents will need phone service. Some use their cell phone and while others use low-cost VOIP phone systems. Most plans start around $19.95 per month but can go up based upon advanced features and benefits.

How long will it take to get back my freight broker or freight agent startup cost?

Below is a freight broker profit calculator that we created to help you estimate how many loads you will need to move as a freight broker or freight agent in order to get your startup investment back.

Plus you can easily calculate how many loads you will need to move per day/week/month in order to cover your recurring cost like phones, load boards, freight broker software, etc.

It might be hard to believe but most freight brokers and freight agents can earn $100,000+ per year in profit with just a few customers by moving as little as 2-3 loads per day.

 

Summary 

Regardless of your financial situation, the freight brokerage industry can offer an incredible opportunity to earn full time income from home as either a freight broker or a freight agent.  

Regardless if you decide to become a freight broker agent or learn how get your freight broker authority, one of the biggest benefits is the fact that freight broker startup costs are very affordable so you don’t have to risk your life-saving to get started.

Click here to learn how to become a freight broker or freight agent in 30 days or less!

Cheers,

Dennis Brown

7X Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Freight Broker

 

 

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