Operating authority is the term used by transportation regulatory agencies to describe a grant of legal permission by a federal or state government to engage in for-hire interstate (state-to-state) or intrastate (within a state) transportation by motor vehicle. Essentially, it is a business license. Much like a plumber needs to be licensed and insured, so too does a trucker or mover (also called a motor carrier). In certain areas called “Commercial Zones” no trucking license is needed if you operate solely within the zone.
However, if you are unlicensed and you transport regulated commodities where one or both points are outside the zone, you run the risk of being issued notices of violation and having to pay substantial civil penalties. Effective September 2002, you also run the risk of being placed out-of-service by a law enforcement officer. If you transport residential household goods on a regular basis, you will need household goods authority (moving license).