From the Calf. dept of Motor vehices
Who needs a permit?
* Any person or entity who is paid to transport property in their motor vehicle regardless of vehicle size or weight (For-hire carrier).
* Any person or entity operating a motor vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more and which is used in the course of business to transport their own property (Private 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.
* 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.
More info here - http://dmv.ca.gov/vehindustry/mcp/mcpfaq.htm#whodoes