Vehicle Industry Registration Procedures Manual

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Section 8 of 38

Chapter 7: Miscellaneous Originals

7.030 Exemptions From Registration

The following vehicles are exempt from regular registration but may be required to display special identification (ID), as shown:
Aircraft Refueling Vehicles (Vehicle Code [VC] §4021)—Any vehicle designed or altered and used exclusively for the refueling of aircraft at a public airport, operated upon a highway, under the control of a local authority, for a continuous distance not exceeding one-quarter mile each way to and from a bulk fuel storage facility.
Cemetery Equipment (VC §§4012 and 5011)—Any vehicle, implement, or equipment specifically designed or altered for and used exclusively in the maintenance or operation of cemetery grounds, which is only incidentally operated or moved on a highway. Cemetery equipment must display a special ID plate if moved over a highway.
Disaster Relief Vehicles (VC §4005)—Any vehicle operated within a disaster area or region, for the purpose of assisting in disaster relief work, under a special permit issued by the department for that purpose. The special permit is issued only if the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS), or the responsible local authority, has determined that the vehicle is necessary for such purpose and is valid only during a period of a state of emergency, as proclaimed by the Governor under the provisions of the California Emergency Services Act.

Firefighting Equipment (VC §4015)—Any privately-owned vehicle designed or capable of being used for firefighting purposes and only operated upon a highway in responding to, or returning from, emergency fire calls. This includes fire fighting vehicles which are privately-owned and operated by an all-volunteer, nonprofit fire department in an unincorporated area. Vehicles that do not qualify under VC §4015 must be registered.
The California Code of Regulations, Title 13 §157.00 defines fire fighting vehicles as:
(a) A fire fighting vehicle is defined as any vehicle that contains firefighting apparatus and equipment, which is designed and intended primarily for firefighting. The following privately-owned vehicles, when operated upon a highway only in responding to, and returning from, emergency fire calls qualify as fire fighting vehicles and are exempt from registration:

  1. Fire trucks equipped with hose and ladders.
  2. Fire engines.
  3. Other vehicles permanently equipped with firefighting apparatus and equipment.
  4. A tank truck operated solely in conjunction with a fire truck, fire engine, or other self-propelled firefighting apparatus.

(b) Privately-owned vehicles or a combination of vehicles, which are not designed primarily for firefighting, including hazardous materials response vehicles, dedicated rescue vehicles, command post communications vehicles, passenger vehicles, buses, mobile kitchens, mobile sanitation facilities, and heavy equipment transport vehicles do not qualify as fire fighting vehicles as defined under subdivision (a) of this section.

An Authorized Emergency Vehicle permit issued by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) must be obtained if Code 3 equipment (red light and siren) is installed on a privately-owned fire fighting vehicle.

Forklift Trucks (VC §4013)—Any forklift truck which is designed primarily for loading, unloading, and stacking materials that is operated upon the highway only for the purpose of transporting products or material across a highway in the loading, unloading, or stacking process, and which is not operated along a highway for a distance greater than one-quarter mile.

Golf Carts (VC §§345 and 4019)—A motor vehicle designed to carry golf equipment and not more than two persons, including the driver. A golf cart has not less than three wheels in contact with the ground, an unladen weight of no more than 1,300 pounds, and is designed and operated at not more than 15 miles per hour. A golf cart operated pursuant to VC §21115 is exempt from registration.

If the vehicle is moved, then laden commercial registration is required. Unladen automobile registration is required. The vehicle is exempt from the weight fee (VC §9409). The application must include a Statement of Facts (REG 256) form from the owner stating the vehicle will not be moved laden over the highways to qualify for the weight fee exemption.                      

Hauled Vehicles (VC §4009)—A vehicle transported upon a highway, no part of which is in contact with the highway.
Logging Vehicles (VC §§4018 and 5011)
—Any logging vehicle is exempt from registration but must display a special ID plate if moved over a highway.
Self-Propelled Wheelchairs, Invalid Tricycles, or Quadricycles (VC §467)
—A self-propelled wheelchair, invalid tricycle, or quadricycle, while being operated by a person who, by reason of physical disabilities, is otherwise unable to move about as a pedestrian.
Snowmobiles (VC §557)—A motor vehicle designed to travel over ice or snow in whole or in part on skis, belts, cleats, or low-pressure tires. Refer to Chapter 30 for off-highway vehicle registration information. Special Equipment (VC §§565, 575, 4010, and 5011)—Special construction equipment and special mobile equipment are exempt from registration but must display a special ID plate if moved over a highway.