FAQ - 90-Day Test

The following questions and answers pertain to purchases of vehicles, vessels, and aircraft subject to the 90-day test provisions only.  The information below does not apply to the purchase of a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft that is subject to the 12-month test provisions.  To determine which test applies to your situation, please see question 1 below.

General Questions

  1. Do I use the 90-day test or the 12-month test when determining the application of use tax to out-of-state purchases of vehicles, vessels, and aircraft?
  2. What are the 90-day test provisions?

Questions for California Residents

  1. If the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft I purchase out of state enters California during the first 90 days of ownership, and is used in interstate or foreign commerce, can my purchase and use of the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft qualify for an exclusion from use tax?
  2. A California resident purchases a vehicle outside of the state from a California dealer and represents to the dealer that the vehicle has not been purchased for use in the state (by completing and signing a BOE-447 and BOE-448). May the dealer accept the form and register the vehicle with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) without collecting the use tax?

Aircraft Used as a Common Carrier

  1. The vehicle, vessel, or aircraft I purchase on or after October 1, 2008 enters California during the first 12 months of ownership. Can I still qualify for an exclusion from use tax?

Commercial Deep Sea Fishing Vessel

  1. I purchase a vessel for use in commercial deep sea fishing. Can my purchase and use qualify for exemption from tax if the vessel is purchased out of state and enters California during the first 90 days of ownership?

  1. Do I use the 90-day test or the 12-month test when determining the application of use tax to out-of-state purchases of vehicles, vessels, and aircraft?

    Revenue and Taxation Code section 6248 has been amended several times over the past several years resulting in two different applicable test periods. The test periods are used to determine if the out-of-state purchase of a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft was a purchase for the purpose of storage, use, or other consumption in California and subject to California use tax. The applicable test period is generally dependent upon the purchase date of the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft. The following table illustrates the application of each of the two test periods based on the purchase date:

    Purchase Date Test Period
    Prior to October 2, 2004 90-Day Test
    October 2, 2004 – June 30, 2007 12-Month Test
    July 1, 2007 – September 30, 2008 90-Day Test
    On or after October 1, 2008 12-Month Test

    Revenue and Taxation Code section 6248 was amended to replace the "90-day test" with a "12-month test" to determine whether the out-of-state purchase of a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft was a purchase for the purpose of storage, use, or other consumption in California and subject to California use tax.

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  2. What are the 90-day test provisions?

    Property purchased from a dealer outside California, (including property purchased from a California dealer and subsequently delivered or picked up at a location outside of California where title is transferred to the purchaser), or from a non-dealer either in or outside of California, for use in this state is generally subject to the use tax. Residency is not a factor in determining if tax is due. However, if the property is not deemed to be purchased for use in California, the purchase will not be subject to the California use tax. The 90-day test is used to determine if the property was purchased for use in California.

    If the property is purchased (delivered) and first functionally used outside of California for more than 90 days, it is presumed to have been purchased for use outside California. Storage of the property outside of California may be included in the 90-day period provided the property is first functionally used outside the state prior to the storage period. However, if the property enters California during the first 90 days of ownership, a secondary test may be conducted to determine if the property was purchased for use in this state. The secondary test is commonly referred to as the six-month test.

    The six-month test is used when the property is originally purchased outside of California, first functionally used outside of California, but the property enters California within 90 days of the purchase date. The six-month test period commences immediately upon entry of the property in California. To qualify as not purchased for use in California, the property must be documented as used or stored outside of California more than one-half of the time during the six-month period following its entry into this state.

    To qualify for these provisions, documentation, satisfactory to the BOE, must be submitted that verifies the transaction occurred outside of California and sufficiently identifies the date, location, and use of the property during the entire period required for the exclusion (90 days or six months).

    There are several other conditions under which a purchase may be excluded from the use tax. If, at the time of purchase, the purchaser did not know the property would be used in California, the transaction may not be subject to tax. For example, a person serving in the U.S. military who receives transfer orders to California right after buying a vehicle is required to pay use tax unless it can be shown that the date of the reassignment occurred after the vehicle's purchase date. The same rules may apply if a person received a promotion or job offer requiring the person to relocate to California.

    To qualify for these provisions, documentation must be provided verifying that the purchaser did not know at the time of purchase that the vehicle would enter or be used in California within the first 90 days of ownership. Signed and dated copies of military orders or change in employment status are required. Additional supporting documentation such as an apartment lease or rental agreement may be used to support the claim.

    See also publication 110, Purchases from Out-of-State Vendors, Regulation 1610, Vehicles, Vessels, and Aircraft and Regulation 1620, Interstate and Foreign Commerce.

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Questions for California Residents

  1. If the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft I purchase out of state enters California during the first 90 days of ownership, and is used in interstate or foreign commerce, can my purchase and use of the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft qualify for an exclusion from use tax?

    When a California resident purchases a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft outside of California and the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft enters the state during the first 90 days of ownership, we will presume the purchase was for use in California and subject to tax. However, use tax generally will not apply if:

    • The vehicle, vessel, or aircraft is first functionally used outside California, and
    • One-half or more of the miles traveled by the vehicle, or the nautical miles traveled by the vessel, or flight time traveled by the aircraft during the six-month period immediately following entry into California are commercial miles or flight time traveled in interstate or foreign commerce.

    The term "commercial" applies to business uses and excludes personal use (Regulation 1620(b)(5)(C)). Use tax generally will not apply to a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft that is both first functionally used outside the state of California and is continuously used in interstate or foreign commerce within and without California, and not exclusively in California (Regulation 1620(b)(2)(B)1).

  2. A California resident purchases a vehicle outside of the state from a California dealer and represents to the dealer that the vehicle has not been purchased for use in the state (by completing and signing a BOE-447 and BOE-448). May the dealer accept the form and register the vehicle with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) without collecting the use tax?

    BOE-447, Statement Pursuant to Section 6247 of the California Sales and Use Tax Law, is used by purchasers to certify that a vehicle purchased and delivered to an out-of-state location will not be brought into California during the first 12 months of ownership. BOE-448, Statement of Delivery Outside California, is used by automobile dealers to certify that a vehicle has been delivered to a purchaser at an out-of-state location.

    A dealer may complete the DMV registration of a vehicle for its California customers. However, if the dealer accepts a BOE-447 and BOE-448 from a California resident who requests that the dealer register the vehicle in California, the dealer's good faith acceptance of these certifications may be questioned and the dealer may be liable for the tax if it is subsequently determined that the vehicle was purchased for use in California.

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Aircraft Used as a Common Carrier

  1. I purchase an aircraft for use in or for lease as a common carrier. Can my purchase and use qualify for exemption from tax if the aircraft is purchased out of state and enters California during the first 90 days of ownership?

    If the requirements for the common carriage exemption are met, the aircraft's purchase and use are generally exempt from tax even if the aircraft was purchased outside this state by a California resident and was brought into this state within the first 90 days of ownership. The requirements for the common carriage exemption are explained in our response to Frequently Asked Question 3.m. Aircraft Common Carrier.

Commercial Deep Sea Fishing Vessel

  1. I purchase a vessel for use in commercial deep sea fishing. Can my purchase and use qualify for exemption from tax if the vessel is purchased out of state and enters California during the first 90 days of ownership?

    If the requirements for the commercial deep sea fishing exemption are met, the vessel's purchase and use are generally exempt from tax even if the vessel was purchased outside this state by a California resident and was brought into this state within the first 90 days of ownership. These requirements are generally explained in publication 40, Tax Tips for the Watercraft Industry, and in our response to Frequently Asked Question 3.a. Commercial Deep Sea Fishing.

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