Registering Commercial Vehicles and PTI Trailers FFVR 27

(PDF) Version

The Commercial Vehicle Registration Act (CVRA) changed the way the Department of Motor Vehicles registers commercial motor vehicles and some trailers.

Vehicles Affected

  • Commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) or combined gross vehicle weight (CGW) of 10,001 lbs. or more.
  • Most trailers

Vehicles NOT Affected

  • Light-weight trucks and vans, if the declared GVW or CGW is 10,000 lbs. or less.
  • Pickups with an unladen weight of 8,000 lbs. (even if the operating weight is over 10,000 lbs.)
  • Taxis and rental limousines (including charter-party carriers operating limousines that pick up and deliver airport passengers) if the declared GVW is 10,000 lbs. or less.
  • Park trailers
  • Trailer coaches

NOTE: Weight fees for the above vehicles (except trailers) will continue to be based on the unladen weight.

GVW and CGW Definitions

Declared gross vehicle weight (GVW) is the weight that equals the total unladen weight of the vehicle plus the heaviest load that will be transported on the vehicle.

Declared combined gross vehicle weight (CGW) is the total unladen weight of the combination of vehicles (motor vehicle and trailer) plus the heaviest load that will be transported by that combination.

If you tow a trailer or other vehicle such as a truck loaded with produce pulling a trailer loaded with bricks, you must declare the total CGW of the combination of vehicles.

All commercial motor vehicle owners/lessees must declare the GVW or CGW when the:

  • Vehicle is first registered in California (original).
  • Vehicle is purchased (new or used).
  • Operating weight changes.

NOTE: The operating weight for vehicle registered as partial year registration (PYR) does not have to be declared each time PYR is requested, unless the operating weight changes.

How Do I Report My GVW or CGW?

Complete a Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)/Combined Gross Vehicle Weight (CGW) (REG 4008) form to declare the GVW/CGW at which you will operate your vehicle with its heaviest load when you first register the vehicle in California, purchase a vehicle, or the operating weight changes so you registration will reflect the correct CVRA fee. The REG 4008 is available at

NOTE: For registration fees, including the CVRA Fees schedule, see Registration Related Fees (FFVR 34) Fast Facts brochure, available at

Using the GVW/CGW Listed on Your Vehicle

The GVW/CGW listed on your vehicle is the manufacturer’s maximum weight at which the vehicle can safely operate. You must determine whether or not the vehicle will be operated at the maximum.

You must complete a new REG 4008 when the declared GVW/CGW changes to a different weight range.

If the declared GVW/CGW increased after it was reported to DMV, an additional CVRA fee is due on the higher weight range for the remainder of the registration year, or if registered on a partial year registration (PYR) basis, for the period of registration requested. The appropriate CVRA fees must be paid prior to operation of the vehicle at the higher weight.

If the declared GVW/CGW decreased after your vehicle was registered at the weight reported to DMV, the lower weight will be added to the vehicle record and a new registration card issued. No refunds will be issued.

NOTE: Violations for under-reporting vehicle weight can result in a fine up to $2,000 (California Vehicle Code (CVC) §42030.1).

If Your Vehicle Will Not Be Operated at a GVW or CGW of 10,001 lbs. or More

You must submit a completed REG 4008 indicating your vehicle will not be operated at 10,001 lbs. or more GVW/CGW to be assessed fees based on the unladen weight. If you do not complete the REG 4008, you will be assessed the maximum CVRA fee.

CVRA Weight Decals and Year Stickers

CVRA-registered vehicles are issued CVRA weight decals and CVRA year stickers (for a fee in addition to the regular year sticker) that must be displayed on both the right and left sides of the vehicle. CVRA year stickers correspond in color with the registration sticker on your license plate.

CVRA weight decals indicate the highest GVW/CGW at which the vehicle may be operated. For example, if your vehicle operating weight is 42,000 lbs. GVW, your weight decals and registration card will show “45” (for 45,000 lbs.). When you receive your new decals and registration card, make sure they have the correct weight range.

EXCEPTION: Decals showing “54” are valid for a vehicle operating up to 54,999 GVW/CGW.

CVRA weight decals will be issued once with the CVRA year stickers. On subsequent renewal, only the CVRA year stickers will be issued unless there is an operating weight change or replacement CVRA weight decals are requested.

Implements of Husbandry

If a truck subject to CVRA is owned and operated by a farmer or an employee, used only for conducting agricultural business, and pulls an implement of husbandry or a vehicle with special equipment (SE) plates, the weight of the implement of husbandry or the SE-plated vehicle and its load do not have to be declared. The weight of the truck and its load, other than an implement of husbandry or SE-plated vehicle, must be declared.

Tow trucks

Tow trucks used to assist the motoring public or to tow or carry impounded vehicles are subject to CVRA fees. The tow truck’s declared weight must be based on the GVW assigned by the vehicle’s manufacturer.


All trailers except park trailers and trailer coaches are registered under the permanent trailer identification (PTI) program.

NOTE: A camp trailer or fifth-wheel trailer (depending on the maximum length, width, and size) can be registered as a trailer coach or camp trailer. Camp trailers are registered as PTI, but trailer coaches and park trailers are registered annually and excluded from PTI.

Tow and auxiliary dollies are not required to be registered in California (CVC §5014.1). However, you may opt to register as PTI. If registered, you must display a PTI license plate or regular license plate with a PTI sticker. If you do not register as PTI, remove and surrender the existing license plate.

While registration under the PTI program is optional for tow and auxiliary dollies in California, you may want to register your tow dolly under PTI if you will be towing it out-of-state, because other states’ registration requirements for trailers vary.

Trailer Fees

A PTI service fee is charged for the original registration and every five years for renewal. You will receive a PTI card at the time of initial registration.

PTI Renewal

About 60 days prior to the registration expiration date, you will receive a PTI service fee notice. Upon payment, you will receive a notice of acknowledgment for the payment; however, no new sticker will be issued.

PTI License Plates

Upon first registration as PTI, owners choose to retain their existing trailer license plate and be issued a PTI sticker, or be issued a PTI license plate (does not need a sticker.)

Personalized and special interest license plates may be retained or requested for PTI trailers. Renewal fees will include any special plate fees due.

How Do I Register as PTI?

You must submit:

  • Titling document(s), (out-of-state title, Application for Registration of New Vehicle (REG 397) form, manufacturer’s statement of origin, etc.).
  • Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) Application and Certification (REG 4017) form, available at, if there is no legal owner and you want a paper Certificate of Title (complete Side A and include a PTI title fee).

    NOTE: If you do not apply for a Certificate of Title, DMV will only issue a PTI card and maintain an electronic ownership record.
  • A PTI filing fee.
  • If a REG 397 is not submitted as the titling document, you will need:

— An Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) form, available at
— A Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) form, available at
— A Statement of Facts (REG 256) form, available at which declared the trailer’s unladen weight. A weight certificate is not required.

FFVR 27 (REV 1/2014) WWW