California Intrastate Authority

By: Rick Malchow, Industry Business Advisor 


Many states have requirements for carriers that intend to engage in intrastate commerce within their respective state.  Intrastate transportation is defined simply as not interstate.  The movement is from one point within the state to another location in the state.  States vary considerably in their requirements for intrastate carriers both in the types of authority that is required and how strictly the rules are enforced.  California has many details to their rules and the state is strict in its enforcement.  Below are the requirements regarding California for-hire and private carrier authorities.  


Intrastate California household goods and passenger carriers are required to have an active CPUC permit issued by the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and display on the power unit the identification number (Cal-T number: the CPUC permit number) issued by the California PUC.  There is a one-time fee and the carrier must provide a yearly equipment list and proof of insurance. 


All other intrastate property carriers, including private carriers, are regulated by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and must have a Motor Carrier Permit (MCP) issued by the DMV.  As it pertains to MCP, a commercial motor vehicle is defined in Section 34500 of the California Vehicle Code (CVC) and generally includes: 


  • Trucks that are more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating;
  • Truck tractors;
  • Vehicle combinations of 40' or more;
  • Vehicles transporting hazardous materials;
  • Any other motor vehicle used to transport property for compensation (for-hire).

There are exclusions from the definition of a CMV for certain: household goods carriers and vehicles, non-commercial pick-up trucks, medium weight rentals, RVs, and related to passenger carrying operations. 


Intrastate carriers (other than household good carriers) must obtain and display a California Identification (CA) number issued by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). In order to obtain a CA number, a motor carrier must first obtain a USDOT number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The motor carrier's USDOT number must be provided as part of the CA number application process.  California also requires interstate carriers that are both delivering and picking up loads in California to obtain a CA number from the California Highway Patrol. However, if the carrier displays a valid USDOT number, the CA number does not also have to be displayed.


The required levels of liability insurance vary from $300,000 to $500,000 combined single limit depending on the type of vehicle and property being transported. Proof of insurance must be submitted on either a Certificate of Insurance (MC 65 M) or a Certificate of Self Insurance (MC 131 M). 


California carriers that use drivers that operate equipment that require a CDL and are subject to Controlled Substance and Alcohol Testing (CSAT), must self-cerify when applying. 


Carriers that have terminals, garages, shops, maintenance, dispatch operations, or cross-dock in California are required to enroll in the Employer Pull Notice Program (EPN). The program's purpose is to provide carriers a way to promote driver safety by an ongoing review of the driver's records. 


California intrastate carriers that also engage in interstate motor carriage must comply with requirements for initial application for an MCP for the intrastate authority and submit any necessary fees.  Interstate carriers are issued a non-expiring MCP. 


Intrastate vehicles that are included in the UCR registration are not subject to annual renewal of the intrastate authority, however a CA number is still required.  Vehicles that are used solely in intrastate operations and not included in the vehilce count under the UCR annual submission are subject to annual renewal of the MCP. 


In addition to the penalties above, the Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend a Motor Carrier Permit due to:

  • Failure to pass a BIT inspection by the CHP;
  • Failure to comply with CSAT requirements;
  • Failure to make copies of CSAT results and other records available to the CHP;
  • Knowingly leasing, operating, dispatching or otherwise utilizing vehicles from a carrier whose motor carrier permit is suspended due to unsafe operations of a vehicle;
  • Failure to be enrolled in the EPN program;
  • Suspension or revocation of an owner-operators driver license; or 
  • Failure to maintain the required insurances.


What You Should Know About AB 5

Article covers what the U.S. Court of Appeals decision means and how it affects indpendent contracors/owner-operators in CA.



Let J. J. Keller Help With Your
California Authority

California Packages for CDL and Non-CDL Carriers includes:

  • California Identification Number 
  • California Motor Carrier Permit (MCP) 
  • California Employer Pull Notice (EPN) - CDL Carriers Only 

California Intrastate Authority

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An educational webisode presented by J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. 

J. J. Keller expert, Rick Malchow, explains the proper operating credentials for any carrier traveling in or through California. 

California Intrastate Authority

California Intrastate Authority FAQs

California requires carriers operating within the state to register with the state. This state specific registration is referred to as having “intrastate authority.”

Yes, an independent carrier can obtain their own loads from shippers, brokers, or load boards. To operate in California, the new carrier will also need to obtain a CA number and an MCP number.

Yes, carriers can have a brokerage division instead of leasing-on drivers. To do so, the carrier needs to have brokerage authority, obtain a surety bond, and follow the FMCSA’s brokerage regulations. The brokering carrier needs to ensure that any independent operation or driver used passes the ABC test.

The California motor carrier permit (MCP) is issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV is responsible for collecting fees, ensuring that motor carriers of property follow the liability and workers compensation insurance requirements, and are enrolled in the Employer Pull Notice (EPN) Program. The issued MCP number designates that the carrier is allowed or “permitted” to operate in the state.

The DMV issues the MCP granting operating authority to motor carriers of property on California highways. Trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more and other motor vehicles used to transport property for compensation are required to obtain an MCP. Out-of-state motor carrier delivering and picking up loads must also obtain an MCP.

To obtain an MCP, the carrier must first obtain a CA number. The carrier needs to demonstrate financial responsibility and have proof of workers compensation (or be issued and provide a written exemption). A valid requester code, if needed, for the Employer Pull Notice (EPN) program. If required, the applicant needs to show enrollment in a controlled substances and alcohol testing (CSAT) program. In addition to all the above, the permit is requested on a form MC 706 M. It is not uncommon for carriers to ask for help from a third party, such as J. J. Keller’s compliance specialists, to assist in requesting the Motor Carrier Permit.

The Motor Carrier Permit (MCP) requires a CA number, issued by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The CHP regulates compliance and the safe operation of vehicles through the Basic Inspection of Terminals (BIT) Program, a Controlled Substance and Alcohol Testing (CSAT) Program, and roadside enforcement.

The CA number is issued by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Applicants must complete a Motor Carrier Profile (CHP 362). The Motor Carrier Profile contains seven parts on five pages (with instructions). It is not uncommon for carriers to ask for help from a third party, such as J. J. Keller’s compliance specialists, to assist in requesting the CA Number. Call 888-473-4638 Today!

Both are needed. Carriers are regulated by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Rather than share a number, each agency issues their own identification number. A carrier desiring an MCP must first have a CA number.

The California Employer Pull Notice (EPN) program enables commercial and government organizations to monitor the driving records of employees who drive for them. Each carrier that is enrolled is assigned n requester code. This code is added to the applicable employee’s driver license record.

Carrier’s must enroll any driver employed to operate a vehicle that:

  • Requires a Class A or Class B license;

  • Requires a Class C license with an endorsement for, hazardous materials, passengers, or tank;

  • With a seating capacity of 10 or fewer people (including the driver) for compensation by a charter–party passenger carrier; or

  • The driver works for a passenger stage corporation with a certificate of public convenience and necessity, or permit issued by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

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California Air Resources Board (CARB) is updating several programs and has a new requirement that applies to “large entities” operating vehicles based in California.

*Truck and bus regulation
This regulation requires the retrofitting of older diesel-powered vehicles with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) or an engine that meets the 2010 emissions standards. This applies to all vehicles operating in California, regardless of where the vehicle is based or registered.


As of January 1, 2022:
• Heavy vehicles with engines from model years 2007 to 2009 must be equipped with DPFs (these were originally built with them), and vehicles with engines from model year 2006 and older must be retrofitted with an engine meeting the 2010 emissions standards, and
• 2006 model year and older light vehicles (14,001- to 26,000-pound weight ratings) must be retrofitted with an engine meeting the 2010 emissions standards.


If you want to use any of the exemptions to this program (such as the low mileage exemption), you need to log into the Truck Regulation Upload, Compliance, and Reporting System (TRUCRS) and register the vehicles involved each January. The website for this program can be found at TRUCRS Register.


*Transportation Refrigeration Unit
To operate in California, a diesel-powered transportation refrigeration unit (TRU) must meet specific emission standards (regardless of where it is based). If the TRU cannot meet the standards as built, it must be retrofitted with emissions control technologies (contact your refrigeration unit vendor if you  have questions on your particular units and possible retrofits). Currently, the only exception involves TRUs with an engine that is rated for less than 25 horsepower. However, once a TRU with an engine less than 25 horsepower reaches seven years old (based on model year), the engine must be retrofitted to meet the applicable emissions standards. Details on this program are available at
TRU Program Details.