Publication 77, Out-of-State Sellers: Do You Need to Register with California?
Engaged in Business
Engaged in Business in California
If you are a retailer located outside California, you are required to register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) and collect California use tax on your taxable sales and report and pay the tax to CDTFA if you are "engaged in business in this state." You are engaged in business in this state if any of the following situations apply to your business:
1. Business location in California
You maintain, occupy, or use, directly or indirectly, or through a subsidiary or agent, a permanent or temporary office, place of distribution, sales or sample room, warehouse or storage place, or other physical place of business in California.
2. Representative in California
You have a representative, agent, or independent contractor operating in the state on your behalf or under your authority, or under the authority of your subsidiary, for the purpose of making sales, taking orders, assembling or installing merchandise, training customers, making deliveries, or otherwise establishing or maintaining a market for your products.
3. Lease property in California
You receive rental payments from the lease of personal property that is located in California, such as lease of machinery, equipment, and furniture. For more information on leases of personal property, see our publication 46, Leasing Tangible Personal Property.
4. Real or Personal Property
You own or lease real property or personal property located in California such as machinery, equipment, furniture, or a computer server.
5. Sales for Delivery in California
Beginning April 1, 2019, you are engaged in business in this state if, during the preceding or current calendar year, the total combined sales of tangible personal property for delivery in California by you and all persons related to you exceed $500,000. A person is related to you if they have a relationship with you as described in Internal Revenue Code section 267(b) and related regulations. Prior to April 1, 2019, you would not be engaged in business in this state based upon your sales for delivery in California.
For more information about California state, local, and district use tax collection requirements, please see Use Tax Collection Requirements Based on Sales into California Due to the Wayfair Decision.
Courtesy Collection of Use Tax
California consumers are responsible for paying the state, local, and district use tax on purchases from retailers that do not collect the tax. If you are not required to register with CDTFA, you may choose to voluntarily register with CDTFA for a Certificate of Registration–Use Tax to collect and pay use tax as a convenience to your California customers. If you hold such a certificate, you will be required to collect and pay tax from purchasers in the same manner as retailers engaged in business in this state. Your obligation to collect and pay tax will continue until you close out your Certificate of Registration–Use Tax.
If you are not currently registered with CDTFA, you may register with us online.
From our Taxpayer Online Services Portal, scroll down to Registration, select Register a New Business Activity or Location, and follow the prompts.
In addition to holding a seller's permit or Certificate of Registration–Use Tax, you may also need to register for another license or permit with CDTFA. For more information about the permits or licenses CDTFA administers and the registration requirements please see the Additional Accounts, Licenses, Permits tab.
If you are an online retailer, additional registration information is available on the Online Retailers: Registration and Local Tax tab of our Local and District Tax Guide for Retailers that you may find helpful.
Please note: This publication summarizes the law and applicable regulations in effect when the publication was written, as noted on the cover. However, changes in the law or in regulations may have occurred since that time. If there is a conflict between the text in this publication and the law or regulations decisions will be based on the law or regulations and not on this publication.
Examples — Required to Register
Below are some common examples of situations that would require a retailer to register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) for sales and use tax purposes.
Retailer with Stocks of Merchandise (Inventory)
If you maintain stocks of merchandise in this state, then you must hold at least one seller's permit.
Please note: You are not required to hold a seller's permit if all of your sales are made exclusively in interstate or foreign commerce.
Retailer Using Fulfillment Center in California
If you use a California fulfillment center to store your inventory, you are required to register with CDTFA and file sales and use tax returns. For more information, see our online guide, Fulfillment Centers.
Retailer with Sales Representative in California
If you have a sales representative soliciting sales in California, you are required to register with CDTFA.
Retailer Installing Property in California
If you install tangible personal property in California using your own employees or independent contractors, you are required to register with CDTFA.
For example: You maintain a single facility in Arizona where you design and sell computer systems. All of your sales are made by mail order or over the Internet. However, on request, you send employees to California to install the equipment for your customers.
Retailer Providing Training in California
You provide training services in California related to goods or merchandise you sell.
For example: Your Virginia-based business does not have sales representatives or inventory in California. However, one of your customer service representatives routinely comes to California to provide training on the computer equipment you sell.
Retailer Leasing Property to Customers for Use in California
You receive payments from the lease of equipment or merchandise located in California and you have not already paid California sales or use tax on the purchase of that equipment or merchandise.
For example: Your Nevada car dealership leases cars to California residents who drive them in this state. You have no other business connection to California.
Retailer Selling Goods for Delivery in California
Beginning April 1, 2019, the total combined sales of tangible personal property for delivery in California by you and all persons related to you exceed $500,000 during the preceding or current calendar year. See our online guide Use Tax Collection Requirements Based on Sales into California Due to the Wayfair Decision.
Not Required To Register
You are not engaged in business in California and generally are not required to register to report and pay California sales and/or use tax solely based on one or more transactions illustrated in the following examples:
1. Convention and Trade Show Activities
- To participate in convention and trade show activities for not more than 15 days during any 12-month period, and
- During the prior calendar year, you did not earn more than $100,000 of net income from those activities in this state.
However, if you sell merchandise at the trade show, or take orders for merchandise delivered later to California customers, you must pay tax on those sales.
If you qualify for this trade show exception, you may register to obtain a temporary permit to sell products at the qualifying trade shows and you are responsible for the tax due with respect to sales you make or orders you take at the trade shows.
2. Warranty and Repair Services
Your only connection is the use of an independent representative or independent contractor in California to perform warranty or repair services for the products you sell provided that the ownership of the representative or independent contractor and your business is not substantially similar.
Please note: if the products you sell or supply in performance of the repair exceed $500,000, you will be required to register for a Certificate of Registration – Use Tax. For more information on services, please see publication 108, Labor Charges.
Additional Accounts, Licenses, and Permits
If you are required to register in California for a seller's permit or a Certificate of Registration – Use Tax, you may have other registration and fee collection requirements.
California Tire Fee
If you sell new tires or vehicles and equipment that include new tires, then you are required to collect a California Tire Fee from the retail purchaser. The California Tire Fee is imposed on the retail purchase of new tires. A retailer is required to collect from the retail purchaser the amount of the fee on each tire when the retailer sells or leases new or used motor vehicles, trailers, farm equipment, or construction equipment that include new tires (including the spare), or sells new tires for use with, but sold separately from, on-road or off-road motor vehicles, trailers, motorized equipment, construction equipment, or farm equipment.
For more information on the California Tire Fee, the current rate, and registration requirements, see publication 91, California Tire Fee.
Covered Electronic Waste Recycling (eWaste) Fee
If you sell covered electronic devices, then you are required to collect a Covered Electronic Waste Recycling (eWaste) Fee from the retail purchaser/leasee. The eWaste Fee is imposed on the retail purchase or lease of "covered electronic devices," which are video display products the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has determined to be hazardous when discarded. These devices include computer monitors, laptop computers, portable DVD players with LCD screens, "bare" cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and devices containing CRTs, televisions with LCD screens, plasma screens, or CRTs. The fee varies depending on the screen size. Please see the eWaste Fee rates posted on our website.
For more information on the eWaste Fee and registration requirements, see publication 95, Electronic Waste Recycling Fee.
Lead-Acid Battery Fee
If you sell or manufacture lead-acid batteries that are sold into California, then you are required to register for the California Lead-Acid Battery Fee and/or the Manufacturer Battery Fee. The Lead-Acid Battery Fee is imposed on the retail purchaser of a replacement lead-acid battery in California. It is a fee that is collected by the retailer or a manufacturer making retail sales. A replacement lead-acid battery includes a new battery sold at retail to replace the battery that originally came with the vehicle, equipment, watercraft, or aircraft.
In addition to the Lead-Acid Battery Fee, there is a Manufacturer Battery Fee. This fee is imposed on the manufacturer for each lead-acid battery sold at retail in California, or sold to a dealer, wholesaler, distributor, or other person for retail sale in California. A person who imports lead-acid batteries into California from an out-of-state manufacturer, without jurisdiction in California, is considered the manufacturer.
For more information on the Lead-Acid Battery Fee, the current rate, and registration requirements, see our online Tax Guide for Lead-Acid Battery Fees.
Lumber Products Assessment
An assessment is imposed on persons who purchase lumber products or engineered wood products for storage, use, or other consumption in California, at the rate of one percent (1 percent) of the sales price. Retailers of lumber products or engineered wood products are required to collect the one percent assessment from the purchaser on their sales of these items to consumers in California.
In general, lumber products and engineered wood products subject to the one percent lumber products assessment are building products, usually used in construction, which are comprised of at least 10 percent wood.
Retailers responsible for collecting the one percent lumber products assessment on sales of lumber products or engineered wood products are required to register for a Lumber Assessment account in addition to registering for a seller's permit or Certificate of Registration–Use Tax.
For more information, please see our online Tax Guide for California Lumber Products Assessment.
Visit our website at www.cdtfa.ca.gov
Customer Service Center: 1-800-400-7115 (CRS:711)
Customer service representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific time), except state holidays.
Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate
Call toll-free for help with problems you have not been able to resolve through normal channels: 1-888-324-2798.
91 California Tire Fee
95 Electronic Waste Recycling Fee
100 Shipping and Delivery Charges
105 District Taxes and Sales Delivered in California
108 Labor Charges
109 Internet Sales
110 California Use Tax Basics
116 Sales and Use Tax Records
178 Voluntary Disclosure Program
Other Helpful Resources
- Sign Up for CDTFA Updates — Subscribe to our email lists and receive the latest news, newsletters, tax and fee updates, public meeting agendas, and other announcements.
- Videos and How-To Guides — These resources will help you avoid common mistakes, file your tax returns online, and more.
- Use Tax – What You Should Know — Helpful information and videos about use tax.
- City and County Tax Rates — A listing of current and historical tax rates.
- Special Notices — CDTFA special notices are issued whenever there is a change in law, tax rates, or CDTFA procedures.
- CDTFA Online Services — Learn about the online services CDTFA offers.
- Verify a Permit or License — You can use this application to verify a seller's permit, Cigarette and Tobacco Product Retailer License, eWaste account, or Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee account.
- CDTFA Field Offices— A comprehensive listing of all CDTFA field offices and contact information.
- Get It In Writing — The Sales and Use Tax Law can be complex, and you are encouraged to put your tax questions in writing.
- Contact Us — A listing of CDTFA contacts for your questions and concerns.
- Local and District Tax Guide for Retailers – A tax guide for retailers to learn more about how to properly collect, report, and pay local and district taxes.
Please note: The tab, Online Retailers: Registration and Local Tax, located on this guide, provides additional registration and local tax information for online retailers.