Special Equipment Registration

What is Special Equipment (SE)?

Certain specialized vehicles, which are sometimes operated on the highway, fall under the definition of SE and are exempt from regular registration. This category includes special construction, cemetery, special mobile equipment, logging vehicles, implements of husbandry, and cotton or farm trailers. (California Vehicle Code (CVC) §§5011, 5015, and 5016).

Special Construction Equipment

A special construction vehicle is used more than 51 percent of the time for highway construction, occasionally moves over the highways, and is oversize or overweight. This vehicle also requires a special permits issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT) or local authorities because of its size.

Special construction equipment includes any legal sized (not requiring a special permit) vehicle used primarily for highway grading, paving, earth moving, or other highway or railroad right-of-way work. These vehicles are not designed for transporting persons or property and are only occasionally operated or moved over the highways (CVC §565).

Special Construction Exclusions

Special construction equipment does not include truck-mounted transit mixers, cranes, shovels, and dump trucks that are not oversize or overweight, or any commercial vehicle not specified in CVC §565 to which machinery has been attached (CVC §570).

Special Mobile Equipment

Special mobile equipment is not self-propelled, not designed or used primarily for transporting persons or property, and only incidentally operated or moved over the highways. Some examples of special mobile equipment are generators, log splitters, tar pots, chippers, cement mixers, and welders (CVC §575).

Logging Vehicle

A logging vehicle is one exclusively in logging operations and is not designed for transporting persons or property on a highway (CVC §379).

Cemetery Equipment

Cemetery equipment is a vehicle, implement, or equipment specifically designed or altered for maintenance or operation of cemetery grounds and only incidentally operated or moved on a highway (CVC §4012).

Implements of Husbandry

An implement of husbandry is a vehicle used exclusively in the conduct of agricultural operations.

Implements of husbandry include any farm tractor that is used to draw a farm trailer carrying farm produce on a highway, or to draw a trailer or semitrailer carrying other implements of husbandry between farms, or from a farm to a processing or handling point and returning with or without the trailer.

An implement of husbandry does not include a vehicle designed primarily for transporting persons or property on the highways unless specified in the CVC.

Farm Trailer

A “farm trailer” is either a trailer or semitrailer that never exceeds 10,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight (GVW) and is:

  • Owned and operated by a farmer in agricultural operations, and used exclusively to transport agricultural products upon the highway to and from the point of first handling.
  • Owned, rented, or leased by a farmer operated in agricultural operations and
    • equipped with rollers on the bed with a frame not taller than 10 inches high.
    • used exclusively to transport fruits and vegetables.
    • manufactured and in use prior to January 1, 1997 (CVC §§36109, 36010).

When is SE Registration Issued?

SE registration is issued to qualified vehicles as outlined below. The owner of a qualifying vehicle is issued an SE plate and an Identification (ID) card. A title is not issued to vehicles with SE registration; however, the owner may apply for a California Certificate of Title as a separate transaction. You may obtain the Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) form at www.dmv.ca.gov or by calling 1-800-777-0133.

When is SE Registration required?

SE registration is:

  • Required for special construction, special mobile, and cemetery equipment, and logging vehicles (CVC §5011).
  • Required for cotton and farm trailers, water tanks, oversize feed and seed motor vehicles, automatic bale wagons, and cotton module movers (CVC §36101).
  • Optional for implements of husbandry and farm tractors (CVC §36115).

How Do I Get an SE Plate and ID Card?

To obtain an SE plate and ID card, the following is required:

  • Application for Identification Plate (REG 88) which includes the vehicle make, vehicle identification number (VIN), body type, full description, and certification of the vehicle/equipment use.
  • A photograph of the entire vehicle/equipment not to exceed 8 1/2″ x 11″.
  • An SE fee.

Final determination of eligibility is based upon review of the application and the photograph. Proof of ownership and verification of the VIN are not required to obtain an SE plate.

Why Would a Vehicle Not Qualify for an SE Plate ?

The most common types of vehicles not available for an SE plate:

  • Vehicles that are not oversized or overweight (an oversized or overweight vehicle requires a permit issued by DOT to move it unladen over highways).
  • Self-propelled special mobile equipment.
  • Auxiliary dollies.
  • Special construction equipment used less than 51 percent of the time for highway construction work or railroad right-of-way.
  • Farm trailers with a GVW over 10, 000 pounds.
  • Farm vehicles not being used solely to transport agricultural products and operated on the highways for a distance greater than one mile.
  • Vehicles designed to carry property and not designated in the CVC as an implement of husbandry or special mobile equipment.

For registration fees, see the brochure, Registration Related Fees (FFVR 34). Because fees are subject to change, visit our website at www.dmv.ca.gov for the most current information.