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Public Utilities Commission 505 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco, CA 94102

FAQs

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 Moving Companies Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: I transport general freight. Do I need a permit from the PUC?
A: No. Motor carriers of property, other than household goods, must obtain a motor carrier permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles. For additional information you may contact the DMV at (916) 657-8153 or visit its Web site at www.dmv.ca.gov.

Q: I want to start a moving business. Do I need a permit from the PUC?
A: If you will be transporting used furniture and personal effects to or from a residence, between points in California, you will need to obtain a household goods carrier permit.

Q: I will be performing only office moves. Do I need a household goods carrier permit from the PUC?
A: No. You should obtain a motor carrier permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles. For additional information you may contact the DMV at (916) 657-8153 or visit its Web site at www.dmv.ca.gov.

Q: I wish to perform both residential moves and office moves. What permit do I need?
A: To move used furniture or personal effects to or from a residence you must hold a household goods carrier permit from the PUC. You may elect to perform office moves under either (1) your household goods carrier permit or (2) under a motor carrier permit issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. To perform office moves under a PUC permit you will need to complete and file with the License Section a Notice of Election (Form TL 706-N) (this form is included in the Household Goods Carriers Application Packet).
 
Q: How do I obtain a household goods carrier permit?
A: You will need to complete an application and mail it to the License Section with a filing fee of $500. You may download a permit application packet. An informational packet is available to assist you in completing the application. These items may also be requested by contacting the License Section at (800) 877-8867 or licensing@cpuc.ca.gov.
 
Q: Are household goods carrier permits transferable?
A: Yes, a permit may be transferred provided it is in good standing. You will need to complete a transfer application and mail it to the License Section with a fee of $150. You may download a transfer application packet. An informational packet is available to assist you in completing the application. These items may also be requested by contacting the License Section at (800) 877-8867 or licensing@cpuc.ca.gov.
 
Q: What are the requirements for obtaining a household goods carrier permit?
A: The primary requirements are:

  • File evidence of insurance coverage (liability, cargo, and workers' compensation) on PUC-prescribed forms.
  • Demonstrate knowledge by written examination of the PUC's Maximum Rate Tariff 4 (MAX 4). The tariff contains maximum rates that carriers must observe as well as rules and regulations governing intrastate moves.
  • Participate in the DMV Employer Pull-Notice System.
  • Provide information to show that vehicles will be maintained and operated in safe condition.
  • Undergo fingerprinting for a criminal background check.
  • Provide any other information requested to demonstrate that the applicant possesses sufficient knowledge, ability, integrity and financial resources to perform the service.  

Q: What are the minimum liability insurance and cargo insurance requirements for household goods carriers?
A: The minimum protection against liability is $250,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person; $500,000 for bodily injury to or death of more than one person; and $100,000 for damage to or destruction of property other than the property being transported; or a combined single limit in the amount of not less than $600,000. For additional information see General Order 100.
 
The minimum cargo insurance coverage is $20,000 per shipment. Information about cargo coverage and rules concerning carrier liability for loss and damage of used household goods can be found in General Order 136.
 
Insurance companies, brokers and agents may wish to view "Important Information for Insurance Providers"  to learn about forms and procedures to use in making insurance filings.
 
Q: How do I arrange to take the MAX 4 exam?
A: Every applicant for a household goods carrier permit must pass a written examination on the maximum rates, rules and regulations contained in Maximum Rate Tariff 4. You may take the MAX 4 exam in San Francisco, Los Angeles. You will need to bring a form of picture identification with you. You may not bring any written materials or a cell phone into the examination room. You will be provided with a copy of MAX 4 to use as a reference when taking the exam. Once you have submitted your application, you may schedule an appointment to take the exam by calling the License Section at (800) 877-8867.
 
Q: Do I as the permit applicant have to take the MAX 4 exam or can I have one of my employees take it?
A: Under the law, if the applicant is an individual, the individual or a responsible managing employee may take the exam. If the application is filed by a co-partnership, corporation, or any other form of business organization, the exam may be taken by a partner, the responsible managing officer, or an employee who works for the firm at least 32 hours per week.
 
Q: Can I obtain a copy of MAX 4 in advance of filing my application?
A: You may purchase a copy of MAX 4 at any time for $6.50. Some rates in MAX 4 require mileage calculations using the Commission's Distance Table 8, which costs $30. These documents may be obtained by completing an order form and mailing it with a check or money order to the address shown on the form.
 
Q: If I fail the MAX 4 exam, may I take it again?
A: You make retake the exam, but by law you will have to wait at least 30 days to do so.
 
Q: What are the requirements for being fingerprinted?
A: The law requires every applicant for a household goods carrier permit to submit fingerprints for each owner, partner, officer and director for the purpose of conducting a criminal history record check. The fingerprints are forwarded to the state Department of Justice and made available to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Applicants have a choice of submitting fingerprints either by Live Scan or fingerprint card. Live Scan is an automated electronic process that generally results in much faster processing. It is performed by selected law enforcement agencies. Fingerprinting by fingerprint card must be accomplished through a law enforcement agency or other agency or person qualified to perform this service. A fee may be charged. For complete details see Instructions for Fingerprinting (Form TL-FNGR).
 
Q: May I conduct operations using owner-operators as independent contractors?
A: Yes, you may engage independent contractors (referred to as "subhaulers") provided that each contractor holds its own household goods carrier permit and you file a subhaul-lease bond of not less than $15,000 with the Commission in accordance with General Order 102.
 
Q: Are there any periodic fees I am required to pay to the Commission?
A: On a quarterly basis every household goods carrier is required to file a report of revenue and pay the following fees (late-filed reports are subject to a 25% penalty):

  • A fee based on intrastate gross operating revenue that currently is 1/2 of 1% of revenue on transportation subject to MAX 4 rates and rules, and 1/10 of 1% on revenue derived from transportation exempt from MAX 4 or the transportation of used office, store, and institution furniture (i.e., office moves).
  • A $15 fee, $5 of which goes to the California Highway Patrol as a safety fee.
  • A Uniform Business License Tax of 1/10 of 1% of revenue, which is imposed in lieu of payment of a city or county excise or license tax on intercity transportation by household goods carriers.
  

Last Modified: 3/4/2013


 
 
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