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 California Department of Fish and Wildlife or from California Turtle & Tortoise Club Adoption Chairs.  To request a Desert Tortoise Permit Application from CTTC Adoption Chairs,contact the CTTC Chapter closest to you.

CDFG permit

CTTC will have new owners complete a permit application as part of the process of adopting a desert tortoise through the CTTC Adoptions Program.

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 street", "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.

The back of the Desert Tortoise Permit Application form has the following instructions:

Instructions for Completing the Desert Tortoise Permit Application

Contact the License and Revenue Branch at LRB@wildlife.ca.gov if you have questions regarding the Desert Tortoise Permit Application.

1. Complete an application for each animal.
2. It is mandatory to complete all items on 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.
DO NOT MAIL YOUR APPLICATION TO THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE OR IT MAY FACE CONSIDERABLE DELAYS IN PROCESSING.