Autonomous Vehicles Tests without a Driver

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The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) established the Autonomous Vehicle Tester (AVT) Driverless Program in 2018. Under this program, manufacturers are allowed to test autonomous vehicles without a human in the driver seat.

The AVT Driverless Program is administered by the DMV Autonomous Vehicles Branch. We are currently accepting applications for the program.

As of October 24, 2023, there are six Autonomous Vehicle Driverless Testing Permit holders.


How to Apply for the AVT Driverless Program

Before you apply for the AVT Driverless Program, sign up for email alerts to stay current on application requirements and changes that may impact program participation.

To apply for the AVT Driverless Program, submit the following:

Once you have completed these forms and collected all documents, mail your application and fees to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Autonomous Vehicles Branch
2415 1st Ave, MS D405
Sacramento, Ca 95818

Processing times may vary depending on the volume of applications received. However, DMV strives to respond to all applications within 30 business days. Keep a copy of all documents for your records.

Biennial Fee

  • $3,600 nonrefundable application fee

The biennial fee includes permits for 10 vehicles and 20 drivers/operators per application. An additional fee of $50 is required to add an additional 10 vehicles and 20 drivers/operators to a testing permit.

Application Checklist

Take a look at the Autonomous Vehicle Form OL 318 Driverless Testing Permit Checklist (OL 318C) to make sure you completed all the steps.

How to Renew an AVT Driverless Program Permit

A permit is valid for a period of two years from midnight of the last day of the month it is issued (unless revoked or surrendered). To renew participation, follow the application steps above.

How to Modify an AVT Driverless Program Permit

To modify a permit, complete an Autonomous Vehicle Tester (ATV) Program Application for Manufacturer’s Testing Permit Driverless Vehicles (OL 318) and mail it to the address on the form.


  • $70 fee to modify an address, authorized representative, driver/operator or vehicle(s)
  • $50 fee to add permits for drivers/operators and vehicles

Requirements For Participating in the AVT Driverless Program

Vehicle Registration Requirements

If your test vehicles are not operating under manufacturer or distributor plates (issued by Occupational Licensing or a state where a reciprocal agreement exists), they are required to have current California registration. To register autonomous test vehicles, you need to submit these additional documents:

Collision Reporting

Manufacturers need to report any collision that results in property damage, bodily injury, or death within 10 days of the incident. To report a collision, complete a Report of Traffic Accident Involving an Autonomous Vehicle (OL 316) and send it to the address on the form.

Annual Disengagement Reporting

Manufacturers must track how often their vehicles disengage from autonomous mode, whether that disengagement is the result of technology failure or situations requiring the operator to take manual control of the vehicle to operate safely. That data must be retained and reported to DMV by January 1 of each year. To report disengagement data, complete an Annual Report of Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement (OL 311R) and mail it to the address on the form.

Disposing of Test Vehicles

There are restrictions on the sale, transfer, or disposal of test vehicles. Upon completion of testing, autonomous test vehicles can only be lawfully transferred or disposed of as follows:

  • To a manufacturer holding a valid autonomous vehicle manufacturer’s testing permit or a manufacturer’s testing permit – driverless vehicles.
  • The manufacturer disposing of the vehicle has obtained a nonrepairable vehicle certificate ensuring that the vehicle is not retitled or resold. At that point:
    • Ownership of the vehicle can be transferred to an auto dismantler.
    • The manufacturer can dismantle or dispose of the vehicle and its major component parts.
  • Transfer ownership to an educational or research institution or a museum for display or study.

Licensing Authority

California Vehicle Code (CVC) Division 16.6, commencing with §38750.

California Code of Regulations Title 13.

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