Tax Guide for International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) and Diesel Fuel Interstate User

Helping your business succeed is important to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). We recognize that understanding your role and responsibility as a business owner in the trucking industry under the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) or Interstate User Diesel Fuel Tax (Interstate User) program can be complicated, and we want to provide information you need so you can focus on growing your business.

To help you better understand the tax and licensing obligations of an IFTA or Interstate User carrier we have created this guide.

You can also download the publication 50, Guide to the International Fuel Tax Agreement for additional information on your IFTA obligations.

How to Use This Guide

Each section of this guide contains information important to your business.

The Getting Started section provides key resources related to registration, filing returns, account maintenance, additional licenses required, license renewals and other important information you need.

The Resources section provides links to helpful information and resources, including forms and publications, statutory and regulatory information, and access to live help from our customer service representatives.

If You Need Help

If at any time you need assistance with topics included in this guide – or with topics we may have not included – feel free to contact us by telephone or email. Contact information and hours of operation are available in the Resources section.

If you have suggestions for improving this guide, please contact us by email.

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IFTA is an agreement among U.S. states and provinces in Canada that simplifies the reporting of fuel use taxes by interstate motor carriers who operate in two or more member states or provinces.

The purpose of IFTA is to establish and maintain the concept of a single fuel tax license for all of your qualified motor vehicles, authorizing them to travel in all IFTA jurisdictions, requiring you to file only one tax return each quarter with your base jurisdiction to report your fuel usage and mileage for all IFTA member states and provinces.

You qualify for an IFTA License if:

  • You operate your qualified motor vehicle on California highways and in any other U.S. state or Canadian province that is a member of the International Fuel Tax Agreement
  • Your qualified motor vehicle(s) are based in California and registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • You perform operations from an established physical place of business in California (a post office box, mail drop address, or agent address boxes do not qualify) and,
  • You maintain the operational control and operational records for your qualified motor vehicles in California, or you can make those records available in the state.

The annual fee for a California IFTA license is $10.00. This license covers all your qualified motor vehicles. In addition, there is a $2.00 per-set charge for annual IFTA decals. You will need one set for each qualified motor vehicle you operate in IFTA jurisdictions.

Once you have completed your online registration and paid the fees, we will mail you your IFTA credentials which include, one (1) California IFTA license for your business. You are required to make copies of the license so that one (1) copy is carried in each qualified motor vehicle.

You will also receive two (2) decals for each qualified motor vehicle in your fleet. One (1) decal must be placed on the exterior portion of the cab's passenger side. The second decal must be placed in the same position on the driver's side. You will receive your decals annually at the time of renewal for all qualified motor vehicles based in California.

Your credentials are valid for the calendar year. You must renew your license and order new decals each calendar year.

If you operate a qualified motor vehicle whose travel is restricted to California only, you are not required to hold an IFTA or DI license.

If you operate a diesel powered qualified motor vehicle whose interstate travel is restricted to Mexico and California, you do not qualify for an IFTA license. However, you would qualify for the Interstate User Diesel Fuel Tax License.

Under the Interstate User program, every person using diesel fuel to operate a qualified motor vehicle within and outside this state shall pay a tax for every gallon of diesel fuel used in this state.

You qualify for an Interstate User license if:

  • You operate at least one qualified motor vehicle powered by diesel fuel,
  • You travel only in California and Mexico; or
  • You travel in California and your business is based outside California in a jurisdiction that is not a member of the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). Currently, the nonmember jurisdictions are Mexico; Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia (DC); and Canada's Nunavut, Yukon Territory, and Northwest Territories.

There are no fees due to obtain an Interstate User license.

Once you have completed your online registration, print out your license and make copies of the license so that one copy is carried in each qualified motor vehicle.

If you operate a diesel-powered vehicle whose travel is solely in California, you do not need an IFTA or Interstate User license.

A vehicle used or designed to transport people or property is considered a qualified motor vehicle if it:

  • Has three or more axles; or
  • Has two axles and a gross vehicle or registered gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds or 11,797 kilograms; or
  • Is used in a combination that has a combined or registered gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds or 11,797 kilograms.

A recreational vehicle such as a motor home or a pickup with a camper is not considered a qualified motor vehicle when an individual uses it exclusively for personal pleasure. Vehicles used in connection with a business operation are not considered recreational.

If you qualify for IFTA or an Interstate User license but do not choose to register, you must obtain fuel trip permits to travel into, or through, each member jurisdiction. A California Fuel Trip Permit allows out-of-state registered carriers to enter and travel into California for four consecutive days without obtaining a license for fuel purposes. California registered carriers must also purchase a California Fuel Trip Permit to reenter California after traveling out of state if they are unlicensed for fuel tax purposes. The California Fuel Trip Permit must be purchased and completed prior to entering the state.

California Fuel Trip Permits are available for purchase using online services.

For example, if you are a California-based carrier, not licensed under IFTA, and you travel into Nevada (an IFTA jurisdiction), you must purchase a Nevada fuel trip permit for entry into and travel within that state. When you return to California, you must purchase a California Fuel Trip Permit before you reenter the state.

If you enter California or travel in an IFTA jurisdiction without valid IFTA or Interstate User license credentials or a fuel trip permit, you may be subject to a penalty, fine or citation, depending on the jurisdiction's laws. If you enter California without a valid California Fuel Trip Permit or IFTA credentials, you are subject to a penalty. Penalty amounts range from $100 to $500 or more (if you owe fuel tax, the penalty may be higher than $500). You will also be required to purchase a fuel trip permit and are subject to possible seizure of your vehicle. If that occurs, your vehicle will not be released until you pay your entire liability, including any costs associated with the seizure of the vehicle.

Carriers traveling in non-IFTA jurisdictions must continue to comply with the fuel tax reporting requirements of those jurisdictions.

Categories Fee
Annual License Fee $10.00
IFTA decals (one set for each qualified motor vehicle) $2.00 per-set

Note: There are no fees due for the Interstate User program.

Register online for your IFTA and Interstate User licenses and any other permits, licenses, or accounts. Upon registration, you will be required to pay the applicable IFTA fees. The Interstate User license does not have any applicable license fees required to register.

If you have not yet registered for Interstate User license or IFTA credentials and need to travel out-of-state, you must purchase fuel trip permits to travel in IFTA jurisdictions and for your reentry into California. Your California Fuel Trip Permit must be purchased and completed before you reenter the state.

Beginning December 1st, of each year, you must renew your IFTA license and order new decals.  You may renew your IFTA credentials through our online services .

After you renew your license and pay your renewal fees, we will mail you your IFTA credentials which include, one (1) California IFTA license for your business. You are required to make copies of the license so that one (1) copy is carried in each qualified motor vehicle in your fleet.

You will also receive two (2) decals for each qualified motor vehicle in your fleet. One decal must be placed on the exterior portion of the passenger side of the cab. The second decal must be placed in the same position on the driver's side. Decals are obtained annually at the time of renewal for all qualified motor vehicles based in California.

You are not required to renew your Interstate User license.

If you are adding a qualified motor vehicle to your IFTA fleet that will be traveling interstate and need to request additional decals, log in with your username and password to order additional decals.

Once your request has been processed and you have paid for the decals, we will mail you, one (1) IFTA license and two (2) decals for each additional qualified motor vehicle added to your fleet. You must ensure that a copy of the license is kept in each qualified vehicle.

One decal must be placed on the exterior portion of the passenger side of the cab. The second decal must be placed in the same position on the driver's side.

The Interstate User license does not require decals to travel into California.

Visit the Tax Rates – Special Taxes and Fees page to view current and historical fuel tax rates.

Online Filing is available to all IFTA and Interstate User licensees. Licensed carriers for IFTA and the Interstate User program are required to file a quarterly tax return, which is due on the last day of the month immediately following the close of the quarterly reporting period:

Report Period Period Covered Due Date
1st Quarter January 1 – March 31 April 30
2nd Quarter April 1 – June 30 July 31
3rd Quarter July 1 – September 30 October 31
4th Quarter October 1 – December 31 January 31

Under IFTA, a return must be filed online each quarter even if:

  • No miles were traveled
  • All miles traveled were in California

A penalty of $50.00, or ten percent of the net tax liability, whichever is greater, will be assessed for:

  • Late-filed returns
  • Failure to file
  • Underpayment of tax due.

If the net tax liability is zero or a credit, the late filing penalty will still be $50.00.

Interest is assessed on all delinquent taxes due for each jurisdiction. Interest will be calculated from the date the tax was due for each month, or fraction of a month, until paid. See our IFTA interest rates. The online filing system will calculate the interest due on the return.

All IFTA returns must be filed online and any amounts due must be paid by the due date to be considered timely. If the due date falls on a weekend or state holiday, the due date is extended to the next business day. You will receive confirmation immediately upon filing your return. Please keep the confirmation of filing for your records.

Under the Interstate User program, a return may be filed online or by mail using the CDTFA-501-DI, Interstate User Diesel Fuel Tax Return, every quarter even if:

  • no taxable miles were traveled
  • all miles traveled were in California

A penalty of ten percent of the tax owed will be assessed on late-filed returns. To avoid penalty for late filing, the tax returns must be postmarked no later than midnight on the date indicated. If the last day of the month falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the next business day will be considered as filed timely.

Interest is assessed on all delinquent taxes due. Interest will be calculated from the date the tax was due for each month or fraction of a month until paid. The online filing system will calculate the interest due on the return.

If the due date falls on a weekend or state holiday, the due date is extended to the next business day.

We have developed an Excel file template to help you file your “Jurisdiction Details” via our online system. You will be able to upload this file when filing your return online. You may download the Jurisdiction Schedule template here.

To file your IFTA Quarterly Fuel Use Tax Return, you will need to have the following information available:

  • “Non-IFTA Miles” – miles traveled in a Non-IFTA jurisdiction.
  • “Non-IFTA Gallons” – fuel purchased in Non-IFTA jurisdictions and placed into the fuel tank to operate your qualified motor vehicles.
  • “Ex-tax gallons” – fuel purchased without paying tax at the time of purchase; Indian Reservation, Dyed Fuel, Farm Fuel; or missing receipts on tax paid fuel.
  • “Jurisdiction Miles” – miles traveled by your qualified motor vehicles during the quarter in each member jurisdiction.
  • “Tax Paid Gallons” – total tax paid gallons of fuel purchased and placed into the fuel tank, used to operate your qualified motor vehicles in each member jurisdiction.
  • “Tax-Exempt Miles” – miles traveled in an exempt manner, such as fuel trip permit miles. To calculate “taxable miles,” you will need to know the number of tax-exempt miles traveled in each IFTA jurisdiction.

Please refer to publication 50, California IFTA, Guide to the International Fuel Tax Agreement for more information regarding filing online.

To file your Interstate User Diesel Fuel Tax Return, you will need to have the following information available:

  • “Total Miles” – all miles traveled in all states and Mexico.
  • “Total Gallons” – Total gallons of diesel fuel used
  • “California Miles” – all miles traveled in California
  • “Tax-Paid Gallons” – total tax-paid gallons purchased in California

You must maintain records that will adequately document all of the information you provide on your fuel tax returns. Records must be maintained for a period of four years from the due date of your tax return or the date the return was filed, whichever is later.

Generally, you must maintain records to document all miles you travel – including the date of your trip, route of travel, total trip miles, and miles traveled in California or each jurisdiction. You must also keep all receipts for fuel you purchase and place into your vehicles. If you maintain a bulk fuel storage facility, you must maintain additional records.

If you have questions about specific record retention requirements of an IFTA jurisdiction, please contact the jurisdiction for more information.

When filing online, you are able to file and pay your tax due in one transaction. You may also visit our website to conveniently make a payment or learn about our various payment options.

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Related Websites

Contact Us

Contact the CDTFA's Motor Carrier Office if you have questions regarding this program or need to register with the CDTFA at:

California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
Motor Carrier Office
1030 Riverside Parkway, Suite 125
West Sacramento, CA 95605

Telephone: 1-916-373-3030
Fax: 1-916-373-3070

The Motor Carrier Office is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except state holidays.

Customer Service Center

1-800-400-7115 (CRS: 711); from the main menu, select the options for Special Taxes and Fees and then Motor Carrier Office Programs.

Customer Service representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific time), except state holidays.

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