Permit and Licensing Information

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What is a Restricted Materials Permit?

The use of all pesticides in California is subject to controls under state and federal rules. Misusing any pesticide violates those laws.  California also has an extra set of rules for pesticides classified as restricted materials.

What is a restricted pesticide?

Certain pesticides can be especially dangerous to human health or the environment if not used correctly. Therefore, California law allows the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to put special controls on these pesticides, limiting their use to trained individuals and then only at times and places approved by the County Agricultural Commissioners. These pesticides are called “restricted materials.” The commissioners evaluate the potential effects an application might have on people and the environment before the pesticide is used.

California is the only state with such a pesticide permitting system. In California and other states, users of restricted materials must have certain training. But only California requires users of certain pesticides to get a permit from a local regulatory official.

County Agricultural Commissioners are uniquely positioned to do this, with their extensive knowledge of both pesticides and local conditions.  Requiring a permit allows Commissioners to make sure restricted pesticides users prevent harmful effects or use alternatives to the pesticide.

The purchase or use of most restricted materials in agriculture requires a permit from the County Agricultural Commissioner. Permits are also required to use these pesticides for commodity treatment in fumigation chambers at ports and elsewhere. The major exception to the permit requirement is structural pest control (for example, to get rid of a termite infestation).

How does someone get a Restricted Materials permit?

To get a permit, the property owner or business operator applies to the County Agricultural Commissioner.  Please contact the Yolo County Agricultural Commissioner's office at (530) 666-8140, Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm to make an appointment for a Restricted Materials permit.

Among other things, the application must list the areas to be treated, their location and size, crops or commodities, pest problems, names of restricted pesticides that may be applied and application method. If a permit applicant has several locations in a county (for example, different fields or fumigation facilities), they can all be covered with a single permit as long as each is clearly identified and described.

The permit application must also include a map or description of the surrounding area showing any places that could be harmed by pesticides. These could include rivers, schools, hospitals, labor camps, residential areas, endangered species habitats, and nearby susceptible livestock or crops.

You may be required to take an exam for the Private Applicator Certificate for your permit.  Please read below for more information on who needs a Private Applicator Certificate.

Can the Commissioner deny a request for a permit?

Yes. In fact, the Commissioner must deny a permit application if he or she concludes that use of the pesticide may harm people or the environment and no restrictions are available to mitigate that harm.  Because the applicant can appeal the denial, the Commissioner’s decision must be well-substantiated and documented.

Even after granting a permit, the Commissioner can cancel it if new information justifies such an action.  For example, a housing tract may have been built or an endangered species habitat found since the permit was approved. A Commissioner can also cancel a permit if the permit holder breaks pesticide laws.

For more information regarding Restricted Materials Permits please click here for the publication What You Need to Know About The Permit Process for Restricted Pesticides 

What is an Operator Identification Number (OIN)?

An OIN is an “identification” number issued to growers and entered on their pesticide use report. This number is issued specifically for management of pesticide use data to identify a unique entity and to determine and calculate the actual percentage of crops treated. OINs are often referred to as a “Grower ID.” If the property owner or operator has been issued a restricted materials permit, the number on the permit may substitute for the OIN.

When do you need an OIN?

  • Purchase and use of pesticides for production of an agricultural commodity.
  • Purchase and use of Restricted Materials, as defined in 3CCR section 6400.
  • Industrial use post-harvest commodity treatment/fumigation.
  • Use of pesticides listed in 3CCR section 6800, Ground Water Protection.
  • Use of pesticides on cemeteries, golf courses, and rights-of-way.

Can OINs be refused or revoked?

No, 3CCR section 6622 states the operator of the property to be treated shall be issued an OIN from the County Agricultural Commissioner of each county in which the operator intends to perform pest control. The law allows anyone producing agricultural commodities to apply for and receive an OIN. However, there are no provisions in the law to revoke, deny, or suspend an OIN. For example, much like a social security number is necessary to secure employment and report wages and earnings, an OIN is strictly an identification number. The number is necessary to purchase pesticides and report pesticide use. Without an OIN, the grower cannot perform pesticide work, the grower’s use data could not be tracked, and the grower could not purchase agricultural or restricted use pesticides.

Who is exempt?

Persons operating as a pest control business with a valid pest control business license.

Who Needs a Private Applicator Certificate (PAC)?

  1. A person who uses or supervises the use of a restricted use pesticide for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity on property owned, leased, or rented by that person or the employer.
  2. A householder who uses or supervises the use of a restricted use pesticide outside the confines of a residential dwelling for the purpose of controlling ornamental, plant or turf pests on residential property owned, leased, or rented by such householder.
  3. The private applicator can be the operator of the property or the operator's authorized representative (with written authorization) or an employee of the operator of the property.

What's Required?

  • Each private applicator must take the "Private Applicator Certificate Examination" and pass with a score of 70 percent or above.
  • Renewal of the private applicator certificate involves retaking the examination or taking continuing education training.

A study guide, "Pesticide Safety - A Reference Manual for Private Applicators" is available through the UC Cooperative Extension office.  Please contact them at (530) 666-8143 for availability.

Pesticides designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) or the State of California for restricted use can be applied only by or under the supervision of a certified applicator. To become a certified applicator, a person must demonstrate competency to handle these hazardous pesticides properly and safely. The mechanism used to determine the knowledge and abilities of persons who intend to handle these pesticides is through the written examination process. These examinations test the applicants to assure that restricted use pesticides are used properly and safely by persons who understand label restrictions; transportation, storage and disposal requirements; pesticide use report requirements; environmental protection; and employer's responsibilities concerning field workers and employees who handle pesticides.

Who Needs a Qualified Applicator Certificate (QAC)?

If you are a person who uses or supervises the use of federally restricted use pesticides or State restricted materials for any purpose or on any property other than that provided by the definition of "private applicator", you must possess a valid qualified applicator certificate (QAC).

This certificate is also required by anyone who is in the business of maintenance gardening and performs pest control that is incidental to such business. In this situation, the QAC holder would have to possess the Maintenance Gardener Category (Q) or the Landscape Maintenance Pest Control Category (B) on their certificate, and obtain a Maintenance Gardener Pest Control Business License.

How do I obtain a QAC card?

A QAC is obtained by passing the Laws, Regulations and Basic Principles examination and at least one pest control category examination (3CCR section 6504). The pest control categories available under this certificate are as follows:

A. Residential, industrial, and institutional I. Animal agriculture
B. Landscape maintenance J. Demonstration and research
C. Right-of-way K. Health Related
D. Plant agriculture L. Wood preservative (subcategories of A and/or C)
E. Forest M. Antifouling tributyltin (subcategory of A)
F. Aquatic N. Sewer line root control (subcategory of A)
G. Regulatory Q. Maintenance gardener (subcategory of B)
H. Seed treatment

The scope of the categories are provided on DPR’s website at www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/cat_qac.pdf, (PDF, 36 kb) and the specific Federal Standards for Certification of Commercial Applicators are at http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/fedstds_qac-qal.pdf, (PDF, 51 kb).

You can view a suggested Study Material List at www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/studymat_qac.pdf, (PDF, 45 kb) to help you prepare for the examinations.

California Code of Regulations (Title 3) (3CCR)
California Food and Agricultural Code (Divisions 6, 7 and 13)
Laws and Regulations Study Guide at www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/L&R_Study_Guide_2001.pdf, (PDF, 3.3 mb).

For more information regarding the QAC card please click here.

Who Needs a Qualified Applicator License (QAL)?

You must possess a valid qualified applicator license (QAL) if you are a person who supervises the pesticide application (restricted use and/or general use) made by a licensed pest control business and are responsible for the safe and legal operation of the pest control business [Food and Agriculture Code (FAC) sections 11701-11709]; Or

You use or supervise the use of federally restricted use pesticides or State restricted materials for any purpose or on any property other than that provided by the definition of "private applicator" [Title 3 California Code of Regulations (3CCR), section 6000.2(a)(b)(c)].

How do I obtain a QAL card?

A QAL is obtained by passing the Laws, Regulations and Basic Principles examination and at least one pest control category examination. The pest control categories available under this certificate are as follows:

A. Residential, industrial, and institutional I. Animal agriculture
B. Landscape maintenance J. Demonstration and research
C. Right-of-way K. Health Related
D. Plant agriculture L. Wood preservative (subcategories of A and/or C)
E. Forest M. Antifouling tributyltin (subcategory of A)
F. Aquatic N. Sewer line root control (subcategory of A)
G. Regulatory Q. Maintenance gardener (subcategory of B)
H. Seed treatment

The scope of the categories are provided on DPR's website at www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/cat_qal.pdf, (PDF, 34 kb) and the specific Federal Standards for Certification of Commercial Applicators are at www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/fedstds_qac-qal.pdf,

You can view a suggested study material list at www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/studymat/qal.pdf,  to help you prepare for the examinations.

California Code of Regulations (Title 3) (3CCR)
California Food and Agricultural Code (Divisions 6, 7 and 13)
Laws and Regulations Study Guide at: www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/pubs/laws_regs_study_guide.pdf

For more information on the QAL card please click here. 

Attention All Landscape Professionals