March 16, 2023
No matter where your trucking company is located, if you move freight to and from California, you need to obtain special certifications. The California Air Resources Board, also known as CARB, puts special regulations in place for all diesel trucks that are at least 14,001 pounds.
Any drayage truck that transports freight either to or from ports and rails yards in California has to register with the CARB. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) started to enforce some of these regulations at the beginning of 2020, with the rest going into effect at the beginning of this year.
It's important that if you want to move freight legally in California, you follow the necessary steps to obtain a CARB compliance certificate. Below, we'll explain that process as well as what is involved.

What Does CARB Regulate?

With these new regulations, CARB is ensuring that all engine emissions are up to new state standards. In this vein, all vehicles that operate within the state -- whether they are registered there or not -- must abide by the regulations.
If your vehicle doesn't receive a CARB compliance certificate, then it will not be allowed to legally transport freight within the state. This is why it's essential that every vehicle in your fleet receives CARB certification if your company plans to operate in California in some capacity.

What Vehicles are Subject to the Regulations?

Any truck that weighs at least 14,001 pounds must obtain the CARB compliance certificate to haul freight in California. As of January 1 of 2023, all of these vehicles must have an engine that is 2010 or newer. This helps to ensure that the engine is up to current emissions standards and doesn't produce extra and unnecessary emissions that some older engines do.
While all vehicles must meet this requirement now, there was a different transition period depending on how much the vehicle weighted. Vehicles that were 26,000 pounds or less could have an engine that was 2007 or newer starting in 2020, but then had to have the 2010 or newer engine starting earlier this year.
Heavier trucks that had a 2005 or newer engine along with a particulate matter filter originally could switch to a 2010 or newer engine at the start of 2022. Those trucks that had an engine from 2007 through 2009 could wait to upgrade to a 2010 or newer engine until the start of this year.

Who is Responsible for CARB Certificates?

All trucking carrier companies must ensure that all the trucks that are operating within California receive this CARB compliance certificate. They are the ones responsible for applying for the actual certificates, and they're only allowed to dispatch trucks to California that are certified.
Every driver is required to have with them the complete contact information for their carrier, which should include the name as well as phone number for a person at the company who is a designated contact for the CARB certification. In addition, the driver must have with them contact information for the receiver, broker, freight forwarder or shipper that hired them for that job.
If drivers are asked to produce proof by a police officer of their CARB compliance certification, they must provide proof of their compliance along with their vehicle's registration, their driver's license and their completed freight bill or bill of lading.
If your company is based within California, once you receive your CARB compliance certificate, you must register it in the ARBER, or the Air Resources Board Equipment Registration, system. Carriers that are based outside the state don't have to do this, though doing so could provide an easy way to prove you're complaint to shippers and brokers.

What Are Brokers' Responsibilities?

Any trucking broker is only allowed to assign a route within California to carriers that are CARB compliant. The brokers don't have to physical inspect all the trucks that will be making the route.
However, they will need to ask the carrier to prove they are compliant. This, again, is one of the benefits of registering with the ARBER system, as it provides an easy way for the broker to receive proof.

What Happens if You're Not CARB-Compliant?

Just like most other states, all vehicles that travel in California may be subject to inspections at truck scales, distribution stations, ports, rail yards and border crossings. Some police districts also have the authorization to ensure that vehicles are CARB-compliant.
If you're truck is discovered not to be CARB-compliant, the enforcement agency can issue citations to the driver, carrier, broker/freight forwarder, shipper or receiver -- or any combination of those entities.
The result of CARB violation investigations is typically a fine. If you are found to be a repeat offender or that you willfully violated the CARB requirements, then the fines you will face can be quite substantial.
This is why it's important to ensure you that your vehicles are CARB-compliant if you plan to transport freight in California, and that you take the time to register each vehicle that will be operating within the state.

How to Get a CARB Compliance Certificate

Now that you can figure out whether you'll need to get a CARB compliance certificate or not, you can proceed to actually obtaining the certificate. The process is fairly simple.
All you need to do is go to the CARB website, and the entire process can be completed online. Once there, you'll need all of the details for each of the vehicles in your fleet.
During the registration process, you'll also have the option for requesting a sticker that you can place on your vehicles that shows they are CARB-compliant. This isn't required by California law. However, it's a good idea to get these stickers, as some facilities in the state require you to have them before you're even able to enter onto their property.
If you need more information about the process or registering for a CARB compliance certificate, you can search through the CARB website, email them at or call them toll-free at 1-888-247-4821.
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