Permits & Licenses
The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration administers many tax and fee programs. Depending on your type of business, you may be required to hold one or more permits, licenses or accounts.
How do I register for a permit, license, or account?
The CDTFA has a secure, convenient, fast, and free way to register online for a permit, license, or account. The system guides you through the process and will assist you with the types of permits you may need for your business.
- New Permit Holders – There are many things you need to know during your first year in business. To review, please see our Guide for New Permit and License Holders.
- Sub-locations – Businesses that have a seller's permit, license, or an account and are expanding their operations to a new area may need to add a new location to their account.
- Temporary Seller's Permits – If you plan to make sales in one location for 90 days or less, you must register your business activity by applying for a temporary seller's permit. For more information, please see Temporary Sellers.
How do I renew my license?
Certain special tax and fee programs require a license that needs to be renewed each year. To renew your license, you must complete a Renewal Application for these programs:
Use our online registration system to renew your license for Cigarette and Tobacco Products, International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) and/or request additional decals.
Online License Renewal Frequently Asked Questions
What are some common permits, licenses, or accounts I might need?
California Seller's Permit: If you are doing business in California and intend to sell or lease tangible personal property subject to sales tax sold at retail, you are required to have a seller's permit and prominently display it at your place of business. Read our Seller's Permit FAQ for more information.
Cannabis Tax Permit: If you are a distributor of cannabis and cannabis products, you must obtain a cannabis tax permit. You must obtain this permit in addition to your seller’s permit.
Cigarette and Tobacco Products: If you sell cigarettes and tobacco products at retail, you must have a California Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retailer's License before purchasing or selling cigarettes or tobacco products. You must obtain this license in addition to your seller's permit.
Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Fee (eWaste): You must have an eWaste account if you sell or lease covered electronic devices (CEDs) such as computer monitors, laptop computers, or portable DVD players with LCD screens. You must obtain this account in addition to your seller's permit.
International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). You must have an IFTA license if you are an interstate motor carrier reporting fuel taxes. An IFTA license allows a taxpayer to file one tax report that covers all member jurisdictions.
Lead Acid Battery Fees: You must register as a battery dealer and pay the California battery fee if you sell replacement lead-acid batteries at retail in California. Dealers may also be liable for the manufacturer battery fee. You must separately register as a manufacturer and pay the manufacturer battery fee if you are a manufacturer of lead-acid-batteries and sell, offer for sale, or distribute the lead-acid batteries in California. If the manufacturer is not subject to the jurisdiction of this state, a dealer or other person who imports the lead-acid battery into California for sale or distribution is responsible to register and pay the manufacturer battery fee.
Lumber Products Assessment: Beginning January 1, 2013, a new law requires a one percent (1%) assessment on purchases of lumber products and engineered wood products for use in California, based on the selling price of the products.
Tire Fee: If you sell new tires, lease/rent motor vehicles, construction equipment, farm equipment, and motorized equipment with new tires you must have a tire fee account. You must obtain this account in addition to your seller's permit.
Underground Storage Tank: If you own an underground storage tank, you must register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. You will be required to file underground storage tank fee returns and pay any fee amounts due for the reporting period.
There are also a number of other tax and fee programs administered by the CDTFA. Please see our complete list of Special Tax and Fee Programs.
How do I verify a permit, license, or account?
Our verification webpage will help you verify a seller's permit, cigarette and tobacco product retailer's license, and eWaste account.
My business information or address has changed. What do I do?
Seller's permit or prepaid MTS account holders should fill out the Notice of Business Change form (CDTFA-345) and follow the instructions.
Special taxes and fees department account holders should fill out the Notice of Business Change form (CDTFA-345-SP) and follow the instructions.
How do I close a permit, license, or account?
It is important that you close your permit, license, or account when one of the following happens:
- You are no longer engaged in business;
- You sell your business or stock of goods to someone else;
- You change the type of ownership for your business (for example, from a sole proprietorship to a corporation or partnership);
- When your partnership agreement calls for dissolution of the partnership and the formation of a new partnership when a change in partners occurs; or
- You change your type of business to expand or discontinue what you sell.
Seller's Permit or Prepaid MTS Account Holders
When you are ready to close your seller's permit or prepaid MTS account, fill out and mail to us CDTFA-65. You can also read Publication 74 for more information.
Other Permit, License, or Account Holders
Please call our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 to start the process to close your special tax or fee permit, license, or account.
Where can I find more information?
Visit this webpage to learn more about registering for our permits, licenses, and accounts.
The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) offers extensive information on state, local, and federal permit requirements:
- CalGold – Provides information about other federal, state, or local government permits that may be required for your business.
- California Business Portal – Provides personalized business assistance including quick start guides for starting and growing your business and the California Business Navigator that provides custom information for your business including permits, licenses, and incentives.
Buying, Selling, or Discontinuing a Business
Whenever you buy, sell, or discontinue a business, you will need to contact the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). If you are buying a business, you may need to obtain a seller's permit, as permits are not transferable. If you are selling or discontinuing a business, you will need to close out your account. (If the business in question is a corporation or limited liability company, please read items 8 and 9 in addition to the other items below.)
1. Do I need to contact the CDTFA if I am buying a business?
Yes. To protect yourself from having to pay any sales and use tax owed by the business you are buying, you should write to the CDTFA and request a certificate of tax clearance. If you do not obtain a clearance before you buy the business, and if taxes are owed and the previous owner has failed to pay those taxes, you could be required to pay any taxes, interest, and penalties that are due.
After receiving your written request for a clearance, the CDTFA will determine whether the business you are buying owes any sales and use taxes, interest, or penalties. If any money is owed, the current owner will be notified and advised to pay the amount due or you will be advised of an amount to withhold from the purchase price to cover the potential liability. This amount must be paid to the CDTFA before a certificate of tax clearance is issued.
If the business you are buying has more than one location and you are buying one or more locations (but not all), you should request a clearance for each location. If the business you are buying has more than one location and you are buying all the locations, only one clearance is needed.
If you are buying a business through an escrow company, you should ensure that the company requests the certificate of clearance on your behalf. It is important to remember that if taxes are owed by the current owner and escrow closes without a certificate of tax clearance, you may be held liable for unpaid taxes (for the amount up to the purchase price for the business, which includes any assumption of indebtedness).
2. What information do I need to include in my written request for a tax clearance?
- The name, address, and phone number of the purchaser.
- The name, address, and phone number of the seller.
- The business address.
- A copy of the Bill of Sale or purchase agreement with the amount of purchase price.
- The name of the escrow company and escrow number, if applicable.
- The date the business was purchased
3. Am I required to set money aside to cover unpaid taxes owed by the previous owner?
Yes. If the CDTFA does not issue the certificate of tax clearance described in #1, you are required to withhold enough of the purchase price of the business to cover any amount owed to the CDTFA until the former owner produces:
- A receipt from the CDTFA showing all the liability has been paid, or
- A certificate from the CDTFA stating that no amount is due
If the CDTFA has provided you with a certificate of tax clearance for the business, you are no longer legally required to set aside funds to cover unpaid sales and use taxes.
4. Do I need to apply for a new seller's permit if I buy another business?
Yes. A new permit would be required to show you as the correct owner. You will need to provide the same information required of all seller's permit applicants. See Obtaining a Seller's Permit.
5. Do I need to tell the CDTFA I am closing or selling my business?
Yes. You must let us know in writing of your intention to close or sell your business. You may satisfy this requirement by providing the information requested on Form CDTFA-65, Notice of Close-Out, and returning the completed form, your permit and other required documentation to the office that handles your account. The CDTFA will close out your account and cancel your seller's permit.
If you made a cash or interest-bearing security deposit to the CDTFA when you obtained your seller's permit, the entire deposit or any unused portion will be returned to you depending on whether any taxes remain to be paid.
If you do not notify the CDTFA when you sell your business or stock of goods, you may be liable for taxes, interest, and penalties incurred by the purchaser or successor.
REMINDER: It is a misdemeanor to use your seller's permit if you are no longer actively engaged in business. For more information, please see Publication 74, Closing Out Your Seller's Permit.
6. If I withdraw from a partnership, do I need to notify the CDTFA?
Yes. You should notify the CDTFA whenever a partner is added or dropped. Timely notification to the CDTFA could help limit the personal liability of partners for taxes, penalties, and interest charges that are incurred after the partnership change. You should let us know of the change in writing. Publishing this information in a newspaper or notifying another state agency is not sufficient notice to the CDTFA.
7. If I withdraw from a business, leaving my spouse as sole owner, should I notify the CDTFA?
If your name is on the seller's permit with your spouse and you withdraw from ownership of the business, you should let us know of the change in writing. A legal separation or divorce decree awarding the business to one spouse, without written notification to the CDTFA, is not sufficient notice.
The following information applies to corporations and limited liability companies:
8. Will I personally be required to pay taxes owed by a corporation or limited liability company?
Yes. If a corporation or limited company is dissolved, terminated, or abandoned, you may be held liable for any unpaid taxes, interest and penalties if:
- You controlled or supervised the filing of returns or payment of tax or were responsible for filing returns or paying tax; or
- You were under a duty to act for the corporation or limited liability company in complying with the Sales and Use Tax Law and
- You willfully failed to pay any tax due from the corporation or limited liability company or caused the tax not to be paid.
9. Am I liable for the entire amount of the unpaid tax owed by the corporation or limited liability company?
Not necessarily. You are liable only for taxes, interest, and penalties owed for the period of time for which you were responsible for the filing of returns or for compliance with the Sales and Use Tax Law.