Getting your operating authority (whether trucking or broker) takes a few weeks to complete. After filing for your operating authority, you will receive your USDOT #.
Having a DOT number does not mean you have your authority; it is simply your number.
Once filed, it takes approximately 21-28 business days for the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) to grant your authority. While you are waiting, you need to take care of two major things:
Getting the necessary insurance on file with the FMCSA
Getting your BOC-3 on file with the FMCSA
When your authority has finally been granted (after the 21-28 business days), the FMCSA will mail out your certificate of authority. This is what you've been waiting for.
You need this certificate of authority before you begin operating. While you cannot expedite the authority granting process, you can expedite the certificate.