COVID-19 UPDATE | The City is coordinating closely with our public health officials at the Santa Cruz County Health Department to prevent the further spread COVID-19. In an effort to protect you and our community, changes and measures have been adopted in daily operations and activities. For further details please click here for the City’s Response to COVID-19

Transient Occupancy Tax

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The City levies an 11% Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) for the privilege of occupying any space where accommodations are offered for hire for periods of thirty (30) days or less. The tax is paid by the occupant and collected by the operator. The operator then remits the tax to the City.

If your property is subject to the TOT, you are required to register with the City within thirty (30) days of commencing business, and to file monthly TOT returns.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City is not accepting in-person TOT payments; however, there are four other ways to submit TOT:

  1. Pay on-line at
  2. Mail to City of Santa Cruz at 333 Front Street, Suite 200, Santa Cruz, CA  95060.
  3. Check only payments may be placed in the drop-box located outside of the City’s Planning Department at 809 Center Street, Room 101.
  4. Credit card payments may be made by phone Monday – Friday from 8:00 AM – Noon and from 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM by calling the City’s Planning Department at 831-420-5110.  Credit card payments will be assessed a 3% convenience fee.

If you have any questions, please email

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by these changes, and thank you for your understanding.


The new TOT online system will allow you to register your rental property, file your monthly return, and remit TOT collected from your guests.

To apply, go to the City’s Online Payments Web Page, click on Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT), then select Apply for TOT Certification.  [Please see below for printable forms if you are unable to use the online system.]

The City of Santa Cruz Finance Department had to move its office during the month of June and will no longer be able to accept in-person transient occupancy tax (TOT) payments at 877 Cedar Street, Suite 100.

Residential Short-Term Rental (STR) Permit and Valid TOT Registration Certificate Required

The City’s Residential Short-Term Rental Ordinance (Municipal Code Section 24.12.1700 et seq.) was adopted by the City Council in October, 2017, and became effective with Coastal Commission approval in April, 2018.  These regulations provide a set of standards governing the renting or leasing of residential property on a short-term basis.  All residential short-term rental properties are required to obtain a Short-Term Rental Permit. 

A listing of active short-term rental properties with STR Permits is available here.

If you did not submit a new application for a TOT Registration Certificate and STR Permit by September, 2018, your old TOT Registration Certificate is no longer valid.  If you have subsequently submitted an application, your new TOT Registration Certificate will be valid when issued. 

You may not engage in any short-term rentals until you have been issued a valid TOT Registration Certificate and STR Permit.

You are required to remit TOT for any short-term rentals that have occurred, even if they occurred when you did not have a valid TOT Registration Certificate or if you are not eligible to continue short-term rental of your property.

For more information regarding your eligibility to apply for a STR Permit, please visit the City’s Short-Term Rentals web page, or call Alex Khoury, Assistant Director of Planning and Community Development, at (831) 420-5116. 


If you are unable to use the online TOT system, following is a link to a fillable PDF application to print and submit (original document only, no faxes or E-mails):

TOT Return Forms
TOT Operators are required to file a TOT return every month.  If you are unable to do so using the City’s online system, please use the following fillable PDF form:


TOT Exemptions
Room occupancy is exempt from taxation for any federal officer or employee when on official business, and for certain officers or employees of foreign governments. For more information please refer to Santa Cruz Municipal Code Section 3.28.040.  To claim an exemption from the TOT, the guest and hotel operator must complete the TOT Certificate of Tax Exemption form at the time the rent is collected. Note: The TOT Certificate of Tax Exemption must be kept on file for at least four years, in case of audit.

Santa Cruz County Tourism Marketing District (SCCTMD)

Operating since July 1, 2010, the Santa Cruz County Tourism Marketing District (SCCTMD) is a benefit assessment district developed to help fund marketing and sales promotion efforts for the Santa Cruz County lodging businesses.  The SCCTMD includes all lodging businesses located within Santa Cruz County, in all of the incorporated cities as well as the unincorporated area.

To report TMD fees collected on behalf of the SCCTMD, the operators can use the form provided here:


If you have questions regarding the TOT or SCCTMD, please contact the Revenue Division of the Finance Department:
   Phone:  (831) 420-5070