It is the law in the State of California that a permit is needed to possess a desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii. Anyone owning a desert tortoise should complete a California Department of Fish and Wildlife Desert Tortoise Permit Application form. There is no fee for this permit. When a permit is granted, an adhesive tag with a unique identification number is provided that should be affixed to the tortoise. This article explains how the permit system works, and answers some of the commonly asked questions.

Obtaining a permit

Getting a permit is quite simple. The first step is to obtain a permit application form. Permit application forms are available from the California Turtle & Tortoise Club website.  Click Desert Tortoise Permit Application to download the three-page permit application required by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife.

CTTC will have new owners complete a permit application as part of the process of adopting a desert tortoise through the CTTC Adoptions Program. To download a desert tortoise adoption application along with the permit application, please click Adoption and Permit Application Forms.

Bring the completed application form(s) to your next CTTC Chapter meeting or send the form(s) by postal mail to your local Chapter. You will find the Chapter mailing addresses on the CTTC Contact page.

Completing the Desert Tortoise Permit Application Form

The information requested on the form is straightforward. You write in your name, address, date of acquisition of the tortoise and a description of how you obtained it. A simple explanation is sufficient such as "long-term captive,"  "found wandering in city,"  "bred in captivity,"  or "obtained through the CTTC adoption program." You complete the form by signing the declaration that the tortoise was obtained legally. No fee is required to obtain the permit. The form also requests basic statistics on the tortoise itself.

Read the "Important Information" section under the application forms for more details.

Instructions for Completing the Desert Tortoise Permit Application

Contact the License and Revenue Branch at if you have questions regarding the Desert Tortoise Permit Application.

The Desert Tortoise Permit Application is available online on the CTTC website. Click Desert Tortoise Permit Application to download a permit application form. To request an application by postal mail, send a request to the following address:
California Turtle & Tortoise Club Chino Chapter
P. O. Box 1753, Chino, CA 91708-1753

1. Complete an application for each animal.
2. It is mandatory to complete all items on all three pages of the application. Incomplete applications will be returned.
3. Sign and date the application.
4. Mail all copies of the application to this address:
California Turtle and Tortoise Club (CTTC)
P.O. Box 1753
Chino, CA 91708-1753.

Include a self-addressed, stamped, legal size envelope for processing. This application will become your permit when validated and returned to you. Please allow 2 weeks for processing.