Chapter 9. California Residency

For tuition purposes, U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are not residents of California may be able to establish California residency to be effective in one year.  Please note that International students cannot become residents unless they become Permanent Residents or U.S.  Citizens.


To become a California resident for tuition purposes you must show that you have lived in California and established the intent to make California your permanent home for more than one (1) year before the first day of classes in the semester for which you seek resident status.  You must begin to document your presence in the state as soon as you arrive.  Be sure to:


  • - Obtain a driver's license or a California Identification Card (if you have never had an out-of-state driver's license) within ten (10) days of settling in California.  You must have a valid California operator's license to drive a car, motorcycle or moped in the state.  You can obtain a license at any of the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in nearby Oakland (5300 Claremont Ave.), (800)-777-0133, El Cerrito (6400 Manila Ave., (510) 235-9171.  If you have a driver's license from another state you will be required to pass a written test of California vehicle laws, pass an eye exam and provide a certified copy of your birth certificate.  A driving test is required if you do not have a valid license from another state or if you plan to operate a motorcycle.  The DMV handbook is located at the following web site:
  • - Register your vehicle in the state of California within 20 days of settling in California.  Vehicles are registered at the local DMV office.
  • - Open a local bank account as soon as possible and close all non-California bank accounts.  Retain official documents showing the opening and closing of your accounts.
  • - Register to vote and vote in California elections.  Voter registration forms are available from the Graduate Division and at voter registration tables on Sproul Plaza or any fire station, public library or DMV office.  The form is postage-paid - just fill it out and mail.  You should receive verification from the County Registrar within four weeks of submitting your application.  If you do not receive confirmation of your voter's registration you should immediately contact your County's Registrar of Voters.
  • - Use your California address as your permanent address.  Do not list your parents or any other out-of-state address as a permanent address on any University form or other legal documents.
  • - Remain in California when school is not in session.  Some travel allotted for purposes of research, fieldwork or a fellowship may not necessarily jeopardize your resident classification if the absence is part of a regular requirement for your degree program or fellowship.  Contact the Residence Affairs Unit for more information regarding any absences outside California.
  • - Financial independence is another factor considered when determining your eligibility for classification as a California resident for tuition purposes.  For fall classification, you are presumed by law to be financial independent if you are at least 24 years of age by December 31.  If you will not be 24 years of age by this date, then you must show that you are not claimed as an income tax deduction by your parents or any other individual for the next tax year.
  • - Financial independence is not a factor in determining residence for graduate students who are employed as Graduate Student Instructors or Graduate Student Researchers for a minimum of 49% time or awarded the equivalent in University-administered funds for the term in which resident classification is sought.
  • - Your physical presence in California must be demonstrated during nonacademic periods.  You should keep all dated material that proves your presence in the state, including airline tickets; paycheck stubs from work; credit card receipts; and bank and credit card statements showing ATM, credit card and debit card activity.  Students with joint accounts should consult with the Residence Affairs Unit.  The credit card receipts need not be signature copies.  The foregoing items are primary indicators of physical presence and will be weighted heavily in determining your status.  Items such as copies of lease agreements, rent or utility checks etc., are much lesser indicators of physical presence and are not acceptable alone.
  • - Your intent will be questioned if you are absent from California for more than 21 total days during the period in which you are establishing resident status for tuition purposes.  Graduate students who are planning to travel outside California for more than 21 total days during nonacademic periods should visit the Residency Affairs Unit at 120 Sproul Hall to seek advising prior to filing for classification and leaving the state.


Please Note: This summary is not a complete explanation of the law regarding California residence.  Changes may be made in the residence requirements between this publication date and the relevant residence determination date.


For more details regarding Residency, please click here.