Registration for Out-of-State Retailers

Although you are not located in California, you may be required to register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) to collect and report tax on your sales to California customers.

Do You Need to Register with California?

You are required to register with CDTFA if you are considered “engaged in business“ in California.

Even if you are not required to register, you may voluntarily register for a Certificate of Registration — Use Tax to collect and pay use tax as a convenience to your California customers. Visit our Register/Renewals page and follow the steps to register your business with CDTFA.

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.

How Do You Know if You Are Engaged in Business in California?

There are five common ways in which you can be considered engaged in business in California. If any of the following situations apply to you, you are required to collect and pay sales and/or use tax.

  • 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.
  • You have representatives, agents, or independent contractors operating in California on your behalf or under your authority, or under the authority of your subsidiary, for purposes of making sales, taking orders, assembling or installing merchandise, training customers, making deliveries, or otherwise establishing or maintaining a market for your products.
  • You receive rental payments from the leases of tangible personal property located in California, such as leases of machinery, equipment, and furniture.
  • You own or lease real property or personal property such as, machinery or equipment, furniture, or computer servers located in California.
  • Beginning April 1, 2019, you have total combined sales of tangible personal property for delivery in California exceeding $500,000 during the preceding or current calendar year.

Did you receive a CDTFA 790, California Nexus Questionnaire?

Your business activities in this state may require you to register under the State of California Sales and Use Tax Law.

  • Complete and return this questionnaire to the address provided.
  • If you have any questions regarding the questionnaire or registration, a contact person, phone number, and email address are provided at the bottom of the form you received.

For more information see Regulation 1684, Collection of Use Tax by Retailers, Revenue and Taxation Code 6203, Collection by Retailer, and our online Tax Guide Use Tax Collection Requirements Based on Sales into California Due to the Wayfair Decision.

Convention Shows

There is an exception to being “engaged in business” when you are only involved in convention and trade shows in California.

If your presence in California for conventions or trade shows is not more than fifteen days, in whole or in part, during any 12 month period and you do not derive more than $100,000 of net income during the prior calendar year from these shows, you are not considered “engaged in business” in California and you are not required to register for an ongoing permit. You must still collect and remit the use tax on the sales made during the event even though you are not required to hold an ongoing permit. You should obtain a temporary permit for reporting tax on sales made during the event.

Sales Made on State-Designated Fairgrounds

Effective July 1, 2018, if you are a retailer who makes sales of tangible personal property that take place on the real property of a California state-designated fair (“state-designated fairground”), you must separately state the amount of those sales on your Sales and Use Tax return. Sales that take place on state-designated fairgrounds include over-the-counter sales on the fairgrounds and also may include sales in which the property is shipped or delivered to or from the fairground.

The separately reported amount will be used for funding allocation purposes only. There is no additional tax or fee due on these sales. For more information on the new reporting requirement, please see Tax Guide for Reporting Requirements on State-Designated Fairgrounds.

Voluntary Disclosure

If you are an out-of-state business that sells to consumers in California but are not registered, you are encouraged to apply for participation in the voluntary disclosure program.

Voluntary disclosure provides taxpayers with the following benefits:

  • Limits the statutory period for assessments against unpaid tax to three years instead of eight.
  • Allows us to waive late filing and late payment penalties.
  • Allows taxpayers to anonymously obtain a written opinion regarding whether you will be approved for a voluntary disclosure request.

To qualify for this program, you must meet the following five conditions:

  • Be located outside California and cannot have been previously registered with CDTFA;
  • Be engaged in business in California.
  • Register voluntarily with CDTFA;
  • Have not been previously contacted by CDTFA or its agents regarding its activities in California; and
  • Failure to pay the tax or file a return was due to reasonable cause and not as a result of negligence or intentional disregard of the law.

The voluntary disclosure program is not applicable to cases involving:

  • Any purchases subject to the California use tax.
  • Sales by persons, registered or unregistered, which are subject to California sales tax.
  • Any person holding or who held a seller's permit.

How to Request a Written Opinion

To request an opinion as to whether or not we would be inclined to approve a voluntary disclosure request or to discuss your eligibility for consideration under these programs, please contact the Voluntary Disclosure Specialist at the following address:

California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
Voluntary Disclosure Program
PO Box 942879 (MIC: 44)
Sacramento, CA 94279-0044
1-916-322-0187 (fax)

To receive the most accurate response possible to your request, please include the following:

  • A description of how you meet all of the qualifications listed above.
  • A description of your business activities, including how products are marketed and sold to California customers.
  • A detailed description of the flow of goods to the customer from the time an order is placed.

How Do You Apply for Voluntary Disclosure?

  • California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
    Main Out-of-State Office
    3321 Power Inn Road, Suite 130
    Sacramento, CA 95826-3893

We will provide you with a Client ID Login Code to file your tax returns. Payment may be made online at the time of filing or mailed with a printable voucher.

You will be notified in writing whether or not you have been accepted into the Voluntary Disclosure Program.

For more information, please see Publication 178, Voluntary Disclosure Program, and Revenue and Taxation Code 6487.05, Deficiency determination; unregistered out-of-state retailers.

Prepaid Mobile Telephony Services (MTS)

Sellers of prepaid mobile telephony services (MTS), such as prepaid minutes and airtime, have certain surcharge and local charge collection requirements.

Beginning January 1, 2020, sellers of prepaid mobile telephony services (MTS) will be required to collect, report, and pay the Emergency Telephone Users (911) Surcharge as a flat fee on each purchase of prepaid MTS made by a prepaid MTS consumer. The 911 Surcharge will be due on each retail transaction that involves a sale of prepaid MTS to a California consumer, unless otherwise exempt.

Sellers of prepaid MTS must continue to collect local charges as a percentage of total prepaid MTS retail sales (if local charges apply).

The 911 Surcharge and local charges (if local charges apply) generally applies to amounts charged for:

  • Prepaid wireless airtime cards
  • Prepaid wireless cards compatible with pay-as-you-go cell phones
  • Prepaid wireless minutes
  • Prepaid wireless plans
  • Prepaid wireless refill or top-off cards
  • Prepaid wireless ‘e-Cards’
  • Prepaid mobile data or any other services when sold with any of the above
  • Any product or service (except a cell phone), when sold with prepaid MTS for a single non-itemized price
  • A cell phone sold with prepaid MTS for a single non-itemized price, unless only a minimal amount of prepaid MTS is transferred. (A minimal amount of prepaid MTS is $5 or less, or 10 minutes or less)

The current 911 Surcharge rate and local charge rates may be found on our 911 Surcharge and Local Charge Rates webpage.

If you sell prepaid wireless products and services to California consumers, you must register with the CDTFA as a prepaid MTS seller. The prepaid MTS account is a separate account from your seller's permit. For more information about your collection requirements as a sellers of prepaid MTS, please see our Tax Guide for Sellers of Prepaid Mobile Telephony Services (MTS) and Telecommunication Service Suppliers.

California Tire Fee

The California Tire Fee is a fee imposed upon the purchase of a new tire. CDTFA administers the program on behalf of the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) and the California Air Resources Board (ARB).

If you are required to have a California seller's permit or Certificate of Registration — Use Tax, you must register for a California Tire Fee account and collect the fee when you sell tires to California retail customers. If you are not sure whether you need to register and collect sales or use tax, see our Tire Fee Program page for more information, or call our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (TTY:711).

If you are not required to register for a tire fee account, you may voluntarily register to collect and pay the tire fee as a courtesy to your California customers. Upon collecting the tire fee, you must provide the customer with an invoice or similar document that lists the tire fee as a separate charge. A copy of the invoice or similar document should be retained by both the seller and purchaser.

If you do not have a California tire fee account, the California purchaser must pay the fee directly to CDTFA.

Cigarette Tax Program

Under federal law (the Jenkins Act), if you ship cigarettes to California customers you must inform CDTFA.

You must provide the buyer's name and address, the brand, and quantity of cigarettes sold or transferred.

Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Fee

If you sell a covered electronic device (CED) to a California customer and you are required to hold a California seller's permit or are registered, or should be registered, to collect California use tax, you owe the fee. If you are not required to collect the fee, your customer owes it.

If the sale is subject to California sales tax, and the item is a CED, the eWaste fee is due. For more information visit Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Fee.

Alcoholic Beverage Tax

Commercial winegrowers who sell and ship wine directly to California customers must have a wine direct shipper permit.

The permit allows winegrowers to ship up to two cases of wine per month directly to a California resident for personal use. The buyer must be at least 21 years old and may not resell the wine.

Permits must be obtained from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.


Online Registration — Register with us for your seller's permit or other necessary permits, or add a business location to an existing account.

Note: You may be contacted for verifying documentation (copies of your driver's license, Articles of Incorporation, etc.) before your registration can be finalized and an account issued.

Filing and Payments

After you have registered you may find these links helpful.

Notice of Business Change — Keep your information current by using the links below and notifying us of any business changes.