Motor Carrier Permit Frequently Asked Questions

This information does not in any way supersede the laws and regulations governing this program as laid out in the California Vehicle Code, Revenue & Taxation Code and the California Code of Regulations.


What is a Motor Carrier Permit?

A motor carrier permit is a document issued by the DMV's Registration Operations Division. The permit is issued to the motor carrier as evidence of the registration with the DMV of their Carrier Identification number (CA#), as required by CVC Section 34620. Additionally, the permit verifies the motor carrier has met all of the statutory requirements to commercially operate motor vehicles on California's highways. The permit contains information specific to the motor carrier (e.g., name, mailing address, CA#, and effective/expiration dates of the permit).

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Who needs a permit?

  • Any person or business entity that is paid to transport property in their motor vehicle regardless of vehicle size or weight. Persons who transport property for compensation are deemed a ‘For-Hire’ motor carrier.
  • Generally, any person or business entity operating a commercial vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more, either for business or personal use. Persons operating such vehicles are deemed a ‘Private’ motor carrier.
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Who will not need a permit?

  • Vehicles operated by household goods and/or passenger carriers as defined in Section 5109 of the Public Utilities Code (those vehicles operate under Public Utilities Commission authority)
  • Vehicles operated by household goods carriers to transport used office, store, and institutional furniture and fixtures when operated under a household goods carrier permit issued pursuant to Section 5137 of the PUC.
  • Pickup trucks with a GVWR of less than 11,500 pounds, an unladen weight of less 8,001 pounds, and equipped with a box-type bed not exceeding 9 feet in length, when operated in a non-commercial manner.
  • Utility trailers, camp trailers, or trailer coaches, or trailer designed to transport watercraft.
  • Vehicles providing transportation of passengers only, a passenger stage corporation transporting baggage and express upon a passenger vehicles incidental to the transportation of passengers.
  • Vehicles used only for personal use and are 10,000 pounds GVWR or less.
  • Two-axle daily rental trucks with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds when operated in non-commercial use.
  • Vehicles which are exempt from vehicle registration fees.
  • Motortrucks or two-axle truck tractors, with a GVWR less than 16,001 pounds, operated singly in noncommercial use (this provision is valid only until January 1, 2016).
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When should a new carrier apply for a permit?

A permit is required before vehicles can be operated on California roadways so new carriers should apply prior to starting operations. Permit terms are a 12-month period beginning at the date of initial application and expiring on the last day of the twelfth month.

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How do I obtain a Motor Carrier Permit?

To obtain a permit the following need to be provided to DMV:

  • A completed application form (MC 706 M) (PDF)
  • Proof of financial responsibility (MCP 65 M)
  • Proof of Workers' Compensation insurance or signed exemption
  • A valid Requestor Code issued by the Employer Pull Notice Program (EPN) if you employ drivers with a Commercial Class A, Class B, or Class C driver license with a hazardous materials endorsement. If you have questions or need forms contact the EPN Unit at (916) 657-6346.
  • A Carrier Identification number (CA#) issued by the CHP
  • Payment of fees
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May I apply for a Motor Carrier Permit at my local DMV Field Office?

No. The single point of contact for all matters related to the Motor Carrier Permit program is the Registration Operations Division located at DMV Headquarters in Sacramento, California. The MCP Operations Unit is not a public office however there is a public drop box labeled "Motor Carrier Permit" in the lobby of Building West at 2570 24th St. For more information contact MCP Operations at (916) 657-8153.

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Where do I send my application and insurance to obtain a Motor Carrier Permit?

Make a copy for your records and mail your completed application (MC 706 M) (PDF) fees, and proof of liability and workers' compensation insurance to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Registration Operations Division
P.O. Box 932370 – MS G875
Sacramento, CA 94232-3700

Overnight delivery:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Registration Operations Division
2415 1st Avenue – MS G875
Sacramento, CA 95818

Motor Carrier Permit drop box:

Department of Motor Vehicles - Building West Lobby
2570 24th Street
Sacramento, CA 95818

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How do I obtain a Carrier Identification number (CA#)?

The Carrier Identification number (CA#) is issued exclusively by the CHP as part of their Biennial Inspection of Terminals (BIT) Program and is used as the motor carrier permit number. Not all motor carriers who require a motor carrier permit need to participate in the BIT Program.

CA# applicants must complete a Motor Carrier Profile (CHP 362) and mail, fax, or hand-carry it to their closest CHP Motor Carrier Safety Unit.

Note: CA# s will be issued exclusively by CHP effective July 1, 2009.

For more information contact the California Highway Patrol, or call (916) 843-3400.

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What are the liability insurance requirements to obtain a permit?

Levels of liability insurance vary from $300,000 to $5,000,000 combined single-limit coverage depending on the type of vehicles and the property transported. Proof of insurance must be submitted on one of the following forms (CVC34631, CCR 220.06):

  • Certificate of Insurance (MC 65 M)
  • Certificate of Self Insurance (MC 131 M)

To apply for a Certificate of Self Insurance, a motor carrier must meet the following requirements:

  • The motor carrier fleet is comprised of 25 or more commercial vehicles registered in the motor carrier name.
  • The required level of liability insurance does not exceed $750,000.
  • There are no unsatisfied judgment(s) against the motor carrier name or the "Doing Business As" or trade names listed on the application for MCP resulting from property damages and/or bodily injury (including death) caused by a motor vehicle accident.

Self insurance forms may be obtained at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/forms/mcp/mcpforms.htm. For additional information contact MCP Operations at (916) 657-8153.

Additional information pertaining to self insurance for MCP purposes may be obtained in the California Code of Regulations, Title XIII, Article 3.5.

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Do I need to provide proof of Workers’ Compensation insurance?

Yes, all motor carriers are required to provide proof of compliance with California’s Workers’ Compensation laws. Submit one of the following or certify on the Application for Motor Carrier Permit (MC 706 M) that you are not subject to California workers’ compensation laws:

  • A Certificate of Insurance (MC 65 M)
  • A Certificate of Insurance submitted by the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) electronically.
  • A Certificate of Consent to Self-Insure issued by the Director of Industrial Relations Office of Self Insurance Plans.
  • A signed exemption statement, stating that in your operations as a motor carrier you do not employ any person in any manner so as to become subject to the workers’ compensation laws of California.

For additional information regarding Workers’ Compensation requirements and laws, go to Department of Industrial Relations or call them at 1-800-736-7401.

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If I only employ family members in my business, is Workers’ Compensation insurance required?

A motor carrier who employs only family members is required to provide workers’ compensation insurance. For additional information regarding workers’ compensation requirements and laws, go to Department of Industrial Relations or call them at 1 (800) 736-7401.

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How are fees determined for the Motor Carrier Permit?

MCP application fees are based on the type of motor carrier operation (for-hire or private) and the number of power units in the motor carrier fleet. A motor carrier fleet includes all power units owned, leased and/or operated by the motor carrier.

Initial MCP application fees for motor carriers with interstate operations are prorated based on the actual mileage driven within California. Interstate motor carriers are issued a Non-Expiring MCP and are not required to pay a renewal fee.

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Do my fees change if I add vehicles to, or remove vehicles from my fleet?

Fees are based on the size of the motor carrier fleet (power units only, do not include trailers) at the time of initial application or at renewal. Additions or deletions to your fleet during the current permit term do not have to be reported to DMV until you renew your permit. Renewal fees will be based on the new fleet size information. A list containing the license plate number, state of issuance and the vehicle identification number of all vehicles in the motor carrier fleet is always required when applying for an MCP.

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What is a Seasonal Permit?

A Seasonal MCP is issued upon request and may be obtained for a period of six to eleven months in a twelve month term. Fees for a Seasonal MCP are collected on a ‘For Hire’ basis and vary according to the number of months requested and the size of the motor carrier fleet; otherwise there are no additional permit requirements. A Seasonal MCP may be extended up to eleven months in the twelve month term. Each time you request an extension, a $5 extension fee is due in addition to the monthly fee ( R & T Code 7236(a) (2). An interstate motor carrier issued a Non-Expiring MCP is not eligible for a Seasonal MCP.

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Am I required to be in compliance with the Biennial Inspection of Terminals (BIT) program and a Controlled Substance and Alcohol Testing (CSAT) program to obtain a Motor Carrier Permit (MCP)?

Yes. Upon initial application or renewal, all MCP applicants are required to self-certify their enrollment in or exemption from the BIT and CSAT programs. Both the MCP application (MC 706 M) (PDF) and the MCP renewal notice (MC 134 M) have a section for self-certification.

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What is the Biennial Inspection of Terminals (BIT) program?

The law requiring the CHP to inspect California truck terminals every two years is known as the BIT Program. The inspections conducted by the CHP are commonly called "BIT inspections". California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 34501.12 requires any person or organization directing the operation of certain trucks or trailers to participate in an inspection program conducted by the CHP. It is the legal responsibility of every motor carrier who is subject to the BIT program to submit an application and appropriate fee to the CHP for inspection of each of the motor carrier's terminals.

For more information contact the California Highway Patrol at (916) 843-3400 or visit http://www.chp.ca.gov/publications/pdf/chp800h.pdf

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What is Controlled Substance and Alcohol Testing (CSAT)?

California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 34520 requires motor carriers and drivers to comply with the controlled substance and alcohol testing requirements of the United States Secretary of Transportation as set forth in Part 382 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Additionally, upon the request of an authorized employee of the CHP, motor carriers are required to make available for inspection copies of all results and other records pertaining to controlled substance and alcohol use and testing conducted pursuant to federal law, including those records contained in individual driver qualification files.

For more information contact the California Highway Patrol at (916) 843-3400 or visit http://www.chp.ca.gov/publications/pdf/csat.pdf.

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Are motor carriers who only transport US Mail or freight containers required to obtain a Motor Carrier Permit (MCP)?

The transportation of US Mail or freight containers, whether empty or loaded, has been deemed interstate commerce. If you are under contract with the United States Postal Service and transport only US mail or if your only transport freight containers, you are not subject to MCP requirements even if all your transportation is performed in California.

Contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Unified Carrier Registration for additional information regarding interstate commerce.

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Is a refuse transporter considered a "private" or "for-hire" carrier?

A "for-hire" motor carrier is a carrier who transports goods or property for compensation. A "private" motor carrier is a carrier who does not transport goods or property for compensation. Since the refuse is considered to be the property of the carrier, the carrier is not transporting someone else's property for compensation. Therefore, a refuse transporter is considered a private carrier.

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If I change the name of my company, do I need to apply for a new MCP?

If this is a change of name only and there has been no change to the business entity, you do not need to apply for a new MCP. However, you will need to complete and return to the department the Notice of Change form (MC 152 M) (PDF) . If you are unable to access or print the form through the Internet, please contact the MCP Operations Unit at (916) 657-8153 and a form will be mailed to you.

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If I change my business entity (e.g., sole proprietorship to partnership, individual to corporation, partnership to individual, etc.), do I need to apply for a new MCP?

Yes, you will need to apply for a new permit in the name of the new business entity. To do this you will need:

  • A new Carrier Identification number (CA#) issued by the CHP.
  • An Application for Motor Carrier Permit (MC 706 M) (PDF) completed in full.
  • If your vehicles require commercially licensed drivers, you must enroll the new business entity in the Employer Pull Notice Program (EPN) and provide a valid requester code on the application.  For more information, contact the EPN Unit at (916) 657-6346.
  • A new Certificate of Insurance for liability insurance (MC 65 M) issued to the new business entity.
  • A new Certificate of Insurance for workers' compensation insurance or indicate proof of exemption on the application.
  • Payment of required fees.

If you are no longer operating under the old MCP, you must file a Request for Voluntary Withdrawal (MC 716 M) (PDF) with the department. Fees paid for an MCP that has been withdrawn are not refundable. Failing to file the Voluntary Withdrawal prior to cancelling your insurance may result in the suspension of your MCP. Contact MCP Operations Unit at (916) 657-8153 if you need forms or assistance.

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Am I required to obtain a Motor Carrier Permit if all my drivers are independent contractors and I only own the trailers?

No. Only carriers who operate or employ drivers to operate those vehicles listed below are required to obtain a Motor Carrier Permit:

  • Self-propelled commercial vehicles as defined in subdivisions (a), (b), (f), (g), and (k) of CVC Section 34500
  • Any motor truck of two- or more axles that is more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating
  • Any other motor vehicle used to transport property for compensation
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What is the Employer Pull Notice Program (EPN) and who is required to enroll?

The Employer Pull Notice Program (EPN) was established to provide employers of commercial drivers and regulatory agencies a means of promoting driver safety through ongoing review of driver records (CVC 1808.1).

Employers must obtain a requester code and enroll any driver employed for the operation of any vehicle, if the driver is required to have any of the following:

  • Class A license.
  • Class B license.
  • Class C license with a Hazardous Materials Endorsement.
  • Class C license with Special Certificates, issued pursuant to CVC Section 2512, 12517, 12519, 12520, 12523, or 12523.5
  • Any driver of a passenger vehicle having a seating capacity of not more than 10 persons, including the driver, operated for compensation by a charter-party carrier of passengers.
  • Passenger Stage Corporation with a certificate of public convenience and necessity or permit issued by the PUC.

Effective January 31, 2005, new federal regulations require a person who is applying for a California commercial driver license with an original Hazardous Materials (HazMat) endorsement to undergo a security threat assessment. The USA Patriot Act requires the Transportation Security Administration to complete a security threat assessment (background records check) before the Department of Motor Vehicles issues a HazMat endorsement. For further information, you may call the TSA at (866) 289-9673 or visit www.tsa.gov.

For more information regarding EPN enrollment call (916) 657-6346. For information regarding commercial driver license requirements, call (916) 657-5771 or 657-5772.

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Am I required to enroll in EPN if my business terminal(s) are located out-of-state and I employ driver(s) who are licensed out-of-state?

You are not required to enroll in the EPN program if your operation does not have any terminal(s) located within California. However, if you regularly garage, maintain, operate or dispatch from a dispatch office, cross-dock facility, maintenance shop, business, store, or private residence located within California, you are subject to enrollment in the EPN program.

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Am I required to enroll in EPN if my business is a Corporation, Partnership, or LLC and I am the only driver?

Yes. If the motor carrier is a Corporation, Partnership, or LLC and vehicles in the motor carrier fleet require commercially licensed drivers, enrollment in the EPN program is required. The EPN requester code number must be provided on the application for MCP.

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How do I change my address?

To change your address on your MCP, you will need to complete and return to the department the Notice of Change form (MC 152 M) (PDF). If you are unable access or print the form through the Internet, contact the MCP Operations Unit at (916) 657-8153 and one will be mailed to you.

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If I am no longer operating as a motor carrier, do I need to notify DMV?

Yes, you need to complete and return to the department a Request for Voluntary Withdrawal form (MC 716 M) (PDF). If you are unable to access or print the form through the Internet, contact the MCP Operations Unit at (916) 657-8153 and a form will be mailed to you. Withdrawing from the program prior to the expiration of your permit does not result in any refund of fees.

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Is the information I provided on my Motor Carrier Permit (MCP) application confidential?

Generally, all information provided on the MCP application is public record, is regularly used by law enforcement agencies and is open to inspection by the public.

The following information contained in the MCP application is designated as confidential:

  • List of employees provided annually by motor carriers with 20 or more vehicles
  • Employer Pull Notice (EPN) requester account number
  • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
  • Driver license number
  • Specific payment information
  • Social Security Number
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How do I obtain information about a Motor Carrier Permit (MCP) holder?

MCP Operations provides brief, specific public information via the telephone at no charge. To request information from MCP records, complete and sign a Motor Carrier Permit Information Request (MC 430 M) (PDF). Be sure to include the requester’s driver license number on the form.

Submit the completed request and required fee to the address shown on the form. Information Request fees are non-refundable and requests submitted without payment will not be processed.

Motor Carrier Information request processing fees
Information Requested Required Fees
Duplicate Motor Carrier Permit$15.00
Applications (Copy Per Year)$20.00
Carrier Status Screen Prints (Each)$5.00
Copy of Insurance Certificates (Each)$20.00
Active Carrier List (CD)$125.00

Subpoena charges are $24.00 per hour or $6.00 per ¼ hour or fraction thereof. Additional fees of $16.00 per hour may be incurred if documents are retrieved from the off-site storage facility.

Public Records Act requests must be submitted to the following address:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Legal Affairs Division
Legal Office, MS C-128, Third Floor
2415 First Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95818

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What happens if I operate as a motor carrier of property without a permit?

Operating as a motor carrier of property without a permit is a misdemeanor and is punishable by fine of up to $2,500, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than three months or both. CHP may also confiscate and impound your vehicles. (Vehicle Code Section 34670).

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Can the Department of Motor Vehicles suspend a Motor Carrier Permit?

A Motor Carrier Permit may be suspended when any of the following actions/activities occur:

  • Failure to pass BIT inspection by the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
  • Failure to pay BIT fees to CHP.
  • Failure to comply with Controlled Substance and Alcohol Testing (CSAT) requirements of federal law as described in Subdivision (a) of CVC 345200.
  • Failure to make copies of CSAT results and other records available to CHP as required by Subdivision (b) of CVC 345200.
  • Knowingly leasing, operating, dispatching or otherwise utilizing vehicles from a carrier whose motor carrier permit is suspended, which suspension is based wholly or in part on the failure of the motor carrier to maintain any vehicle in safe operating condition.
  • Failure to be enrolled in the Employers Pull Notice (EPN) program.
  • Suspension and/or revocation of carrier’s driver's license.
  • Failure to maintain liability and/or Worker’s Compensation insurance.
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In addition to the MCP, do I need to obtain other permits to operate my commercial vehicle(s)?

There are many permits that may be required when operating commercial vehicles in and out of California in addition to the MCP. Utilize the following websites for additional information regarding permits for commercial vehicles.

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Will DMV audit my carrier records?

The department reviews all carrier records on an on-going basis.

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