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Definition of "Household Goods Carrier (HGC)": According to the California Public Utilities Code Section 5109, "household goods carrier" includes every "corporation or person ... engaged in the transportation for compensation or hire as a business by means of a motor vehicle or motor vehicles being used in the transportation of used household goods and personal effects over any public highway in this state."
California Law: Licensed carriers of household goods may travel on the roads necessary for the shipment of household goods, as described in California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 35401.5(f): "Notwithstanding subdivision (d), the limitations of access specified in that subdivision do not apply to licensed carriers of household goods when directly enroute to or from a point of loading or unloading of household goods, if travel on highways other than those specified in subdivision (a) is necessary and incidental to the shipment of the household goods."
HGC Vehicles Exempted: California Legal vehicles do not need an exemption, because they have access to virtually all of California's roadways. California Legal vehicles are defined as 65 feet maximum overall length and maximum 40 feet between the kingpin to rear axle (KPRA) on a two-axle semitrailer, or 38 feet KPRA on a single-axle semitrailer. The exemption for household goods carriers applies to vehicles defined by the federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA): (1) semitrailer length 48 feet maximum, no limit on KPRA length or overall length; (2) semitrailer over 48 feet up to 53 feet maximum, with 40-foot maximum KPRA, and no limit on overall length. For a graphic illustration of California Legal trucks and STAA trucks, see the web page: Truck Map Legend.
The exemption applies only to carriers that are licensed by the appropriate agency, as follows:
Carriers that move within California ("intrastate" carriers) are licensed through the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Carriers that move across state lines ("interstate" carriers) are licensed through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Carriers that move goods both within the state and across state lines must be licensed by both agencies.
Intrastate Licensing (Within California): A mover engaged in intrastate transportation within California must have a permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and evidence of public liability and cargo insurance on file with the CPUC. A mover with a CPUC permit will have a Cal-T Number, and is required to include this number in all advertising. For more information on intrastate licensing, or to obtain an application, call the CPUC at 1-800-877-8867.
Interstate Licensing (Crossing State Lines): A mover engaged in interstate transportation across state lines must have a permit from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A mover with an FMCSA permit will have an MC Number. You may use FMCSA's on-line application to file for USDOT number registrations, operating authority (MC/FF/MX numbers) registrations or update their registrations. You may also contact FMCSA by phone at 1-800-832-5660.
State: The California PUC has a website with an overview, warnings, and some advice about hiring a household goods moving company. Click on this link: Household Goods Enforcement Unit. To make a complaint, see the table below.
Federal: FMCSA has a website to assist consumers moving across state lines. Click on this link: www.ProtectYourMove.gov. To make a complaint, see the table below.
Complaints against moving companies may be filed with one of the two licensing agencies, depending on whether the move is within California or crosses state lines:
The following trade organizations may be good sources of information.
Canadian Association of Movers
590 Alden Road, Suite 211
Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 8N2