Marine Invasive Species Fee Guide
The Marine Invasive Species Fee is jointly administered by the State Lands Commission and the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA).
The Marine Invasive Species Fee you pay to the state provides funding to combat the introduction and spread of non-indigenous aquatic species into California waters.
We developed this guide to provide you with easily accessible information to assist you in understanding the Marine Invasive Species Fee Program and the obligations of vessel owners and operators, and marine agents.
Marine Invasive Species Fee
The marine invasive species fee was established in 1999 to address the introduction and spread of foreign aquatic species into California waters. (Public Resource Code 71200 et seq.)
The fee rate is set by the State Lands Commission. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) is responsible for the collection of the fee. The CDTFA works with the California Marine Exchanges (CME) to identify daily arrivals of vessels into California ports.
How the Revenue is Used
The funds are used to support the marine invasive species program established to prevent the introduction and spread of foreign non-indigenous aquatic species into the state waters of California. (PRC 71200 et seq.)
How to Use This Guide
Each section of this guide contains important information relevant to the Marine Invasive Species Fee.
The Getting Started section includes a summary of general application of the fee and lists resources related to registration, applicable fee rates, return filing and payments.
The Industry Topics section contains specific topics important to the Marine Invasive Species Fee, including information about exemptions and refunds.
The Resources section provides links to helpful information, including special notices, publications, and applicable statutes/regulations.
Please note that the general information provided in this Tax Guide does not supersede any law or regulation. This guide summarizes the law and applicable regulations in effect when it was published. However, changes in the law or regulations may have occurred. If there is a conflict between this document and current law, the current law governs.
If you Need Help
If at any time you need assistance with topics included in this guide – or with topics not included – feel free to contact us by telephone or email. For contact information and hours of operation please visit our How to Contact Us webpage.
If you have suggestions for improving this guide, please contact us by email.
The marine invasive species fee is collected from either the owner, operator, or the marine agent acting on behalf of the owner or operator of each vessel that arrives at a California port, place from a port, or place outside of California.
We work with the California Marine Exchanges (CMEs) to:
- Identify daily arrivals of vessels into California ports, and
- Determine which vessel voyages are subject to the fee;
- Establish account numbers for the owner or operator of these vessels,
- Mail a notice of the amount due to the vessel's owner or operator, and
- Mail a copy of the notice to the marine agent of record for the arrival.
There is no online registration process for the Marine Invasive Species Fee program.
We work with the CMEs to identify daily arrivals of vessels into California ports from a port or place outside of California. Any vessel owners or operators identified by the CMEs as being subject to the fee, are registered and issued account numbers with us.
The Marine Invasive Species Fee is imposed on each vessel per qualifying voyage that arrives at any California port from a port or place outside of California. The fee is set by State Lands Commission regulation, and may not exceed $1,000 per voyage, plus adjustments for inflation every two years.
Visit the Tax Rates – Special Taxes and Fees page to view current and historical fee rates. Rates for the Marine Invasive Species Fee program are set by regulation by the State Lands Commission (2 CCR Section 2271).
The marine invasive species fee is due within 30 days from the date the Notice of Determination (billing) was mailed to be considered timely. The billings for the marine invasive species fee are mailed to the vessel owner or operator of record, as it is their responsibility to make the payment for the amount due. We will send a copy of the billing to the marine agent of record. This will allow the marine agent to make the payment for the amount(s) due on behalf of the vessel owner or operator.
Make a Payment – You may submit your payments through our online services system. Log in using your username and password and select the account for which you want to make a payment. Under the I Want To section, select the Make a Payment link and follow the prompts.
Additional Payment Options – Visit our website for additional convenient payment methods.
If you do not have a username and password, select the Sign Up Now link under the Create a Username heading from the online services homepage.
Payments must be received or postmarked by the due date to be considered timely. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or state holiday, payments postmarked or received by the next business day will be considered timely.
The Marine Agents section provides guidance for agents who make payments on behalf of a vessel owner or operator.
The penalty for filing a late return and/or late fee payment is ten percent (10%) of the fee amount due for the period.
Interest also applies to late fee payments.
Update Business Information Online – Update your business information through our online services homepage. Log in using your username and password and select the account for which you want to update. Select the More link under the I Want To section. Then select the option you are requesting to update under Account Maintenance.
Additional Business Update Options – You may also notify us of any changes by:
- Using form CDTFA-345-SP, Notice of Business Change, Special Taxes and Fees Accounts, or
- Contacting our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS: 711) and selecting the option for “Special Taxes and Fees,” or
- Sending a message through our website at Email Your Tax Questions.
Records must be retained for at least four years from the time the fee is due unless we authorize you in writing to destroy them sooner.
For additional information regarding record retention, please view Regulation 4901.
A marine agent, also referred to as agent, vessel agent, ship or shipping agent is a person under contract with a ship owner or operator to act on behalf of the vessel owner or operator for all the transactions of a ship in a California port that the ship visits or docks.
Effective January 1, 2022, we can share the marine invasive species fee billings with you as the marine agent acting on behalf of a vessel owner or operator without requiring a Power of Attorney or Agent Agreement. We will send you a copy of the billing for each arrival for which you are acting on behalf of a vessel owner or operator, based on the information we receive from the California Marine Exchanges (CMEs).
The original marine invasive species fee billing is sent to the vessel owner or operator as legal notification, with a note indicating a copy has also been mailed to the marine agent of record for the arrival for which the billing applies.
Register for an Online Services Profile
Marine agents can register for an online services customer profile. After you have registered for a profile, you can request access to your clients' accounts by selecting the Request Access to an Account link under the I Want To heading. This will allow you to:
- Access your marine agent account,
- Pay marine invasive species bills,
- Submit Power of Attorney and agent agreements,
- View and print bills,
- See all client billing history, and
- Receive information bulletins on your Online Services account.
Power of Attorney/Agent Agreement
Submission Options – You may return your signed POA or agent agreement form to us by:
Effective January 1, 2022
The Power of Attorney or Agent Agreement are no longer required for marine agents to act on behalf of a vessel owner or operator due to the enactment of Senate Bill 824 (Stats. 2021, Ch. 432). We will send you a copy of a billing for each arrival, for which you are the marine agent of record based on the information we receive from the CMEs.
Prior to January 1, 2022
If, as the vessel owner or operator, you use a marine agent for your vessel arrivals and would like the Notices of Determination (billings) mailed to a designated marine agent for processing and payment, you must submit a CDTFA-392, Power of Attorney (POA) form or a CDTFA-5226, Marine Invasive Species Fee – Agent Agreement (Agent Agreement) that contains authorizing language for an agent to act on behalf of the owner or operator with respect to all marine invasive species fee matters.
You need to submit a POA or agent agreement for each marine agent with whom you have an established relationship. However, you only need one POA or agent agreement per marine agent as it will cover all vessels the marine agent handles for you.
Submission Options – You may return your signed POA or agent agreement form to us by:
File an Appeal – If you wish to contest a billing, you may file a petition for redetermination (appeal) through our online services system. Log in using your username and password and select the account for which you want to file an appeal. Select the More link under the I Want To section, select File a Petition for Redetermination, and follow the prompts.
A petition for redetermination must be submitted within 30 days from the date the billing was mailed to you to be considered timely.
Additional Appeal Filing Options – You may also file an appeal using form CDTFA-416, Petition for Redetermination, or write a letter specifying the grounds for your petition.
You may email your appeal to the Appeals Team or mail it to:California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
Appeals and Data Analysis Branch (MIC 33)
P.O. Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-0033
Additional information about appeals can be found in publication 17, Appeals Procedures.
Visit the sites below for more information about other state, federal, and local taxing and licensing information:
- The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) offers extensive information on state, local, and federal permit requirements. For a listing of their assistance centers, visit GO-Biz.
- CalGold for information regarding permit and licensing requirements for other state, federal, and local authorities (for example, you may need to be registered with the Franchise Tax Board or the Employment Development Department).
- California Tax Service Center for additional tax information.
You may also want to consult with a tax professional for assistance on other agency requirements.
The Marine Invasive Species Fee does not apply to the following:
- A vessel of the armed forces, as defined in paragraph (14) of subsection (a) of Section 1322 of Title 33 of the United States Code that is subject to the “Uniform National Discharge Standards for Vessels of the Armed Forces” pursuant to subsection (n) of Section 1322 of Title 33 of the United States Code.
- A vessel in innocent passage, which is a foreign vessel merely traversing the territorial sea of the United States and not entering or departing a United States port, or not navigating the internal waters of the United States, and that does not discharge ballast water into the waters of the state, or into waters that may impact waters of the state.
(Ballast water is defined as water and suspended matter taken on board a vessel to control or maintain trim, draft, stability, or stresses of the vessel, without regard to the manner in which it is carried. PRC 71200 et seq.)
Submit a Claim for Refund – File your claim for refund through our online services homepage. Log in using your username and password and select the account for which you want to claim a refund. Select the More link under the I Want To section. Then select the Submit a Claim for Refund link and follow the prompts.
Note: You do not need to file a claim to obtain a refund of payments made in excess of the amounts you owe. CDTFA will process the refund and contact you if additional information is required.
Additional Refund Filing Options – You may also file your claim for refund using form CDTFA-101, Claim for Refund or Credit. Additional details can be found on our Filing Claims for Refund – Special Taxes and Fees webpage.
You may email the claim form to the Refund Team or mail it to:California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
Appeals and Data Analysis Branch (MIC 33)
PO Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-0033
Deadline to File a Claim for Refund
Be sure to file your claim for refund by the applicable deadline. If you do not file on time, we cannot consider your claim. You must file a claim for refund by whichever of the following dates occurs last:
- Six months after you overpaid the fee.
- Six months after the date a determination (billing) became final.
- Three years after the CDTFA collected an involuntary payment, such as from a levy or lien.
If you have questions about your deadline to file a refund claim, contact our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS: 711) weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Pacific Time (except state holidays).
Laws and Regulations
- Marine Invasive Species Fee Matters No Longer Require a Power of Attorney for Marine Agents to Act on Behalf of Owners and Operators
- CDTFA Requires a Power of Attorney for Marine Agents to Act on Behalf of Owner/Operators on Marine Invasive Species Fee Law Matters
- Your Marine Invasive Species Fee (Ballast Water) Account Will Move to Our New Online Services System Effective November 9, 2020
Other Helpful Resources
- Contact Us – A listing of CDTFA contacts for your questions and concerns.
- Sign Up for CDTFA Updates – Sign up to receive a monthly email detailing important business information, including Special Notices, Tax Information Bulletins, and updates for local services.
- Online Services – Learn about the online services CDTFA offers, including online registration seller's permits and other accounts.
- Videos and How-To Guides – These resources will help you avoid common mistakes, file your tax returns online, and more.
- Verify a Permit or License – You can use this application to verify a seller's permit, cigarette and tobacco products license, eWaste account, underground storage tank maintenance fee accounts, diesel fuel and motor vehicle fuel supplier licenses, aircraft jet fuel dealer permit.
- CDTFA Field Offices – A comprehensive listing of all CDTFA offices and contact information.
- Get It In Writing! – Tax and Fee Laws can be complex, and you are encouraged to put your tax questions in writing.
- Taxpayers' Rights Advocate (TRA) – The TRA Office helps taxpayers when they are unable to resolve a matter through normal channels, when they want information regarding procedures, or when there are apparent rights violations.
- GO-Biz – The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development offers extensive information on state, local, and federal permit requirements. For a listing of their assistance centers, visit their website.
- CalGold – Provides information regarding permit and licensing requirements on other state, federal, and local authorities. For example, you may need to register with the Franchise Tax Board or the Employment Development Department. You may also want to consult with a tax professional or your local city and county authorities for assistance regarding other agencies' requirements or restrictions.
- California's Tax Service Center – A one-stop tax help and resource website that guides taxpayers to forms and services they need.