It is the law in the State of California that a permit is needed to possess a desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, as well as any other species of Gopherus tortoise such as a Texas tortoise (G. berlandieri) or a gopher tortoise (G. polyphemus). Anyone owning a desert tortoise should complete a California Department of Fish and Wildlife Desert Tortoise Permit Application Form, available as a PDF on this website. 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. PDF 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.

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.

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 tortoise.
2. You are required to include a photograph of the tortoise in your application package.
3. It is mandatory to complete all items on all pages of the application(s). Incomplete applications will be returned to you for completion.
4. Sign and date the application.
5. 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 envelope for processing. This application will become your permit when validated and returned to you. Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for processing.


Combined adoption and
permit application form

CTTC will have new owners complete a permit application as part of the process of adopting a desert tortoise through the CTTC Adoptions Program. If you wish to adopt a desert tortoise, please click Combined Adoption and Permit Application Form, available as a PDF on the CTTC website. This document consists of a two-page desert tortoise adoption application and the CDFW permit application. Fill out all pages completely, sign and date, and bring the whole package to the next chapter meeting or mail it to your CTTC Chapter. If you don’t know the Chapter mailing address, you will find it at the bottom of page 2 on the Adoption Application.