Understanding the Different Window Tinting Laws in San Francisco

Window tinting offers numerous benefits, from enhancing privacy and security to reducing heat and glare. However, it’s essential to be aware of the regulations and laws surrounding window tinting to ensure compliance and avoid any legal issues. If you’re a resident or business owner in San Francisco considering window tinting, it’s crucial to understand the different window tinting laws in the city. In this article, we will provide an overview of the window tinting laws in San Francisco, including permissible tint levels, restrictions, and other relevant regulations.


Visible Light Transmission (VLT) Requirements:

One of the key regulations governing window tinting is the Visible Light Transmission (VLT) requirement. VLT refers to the percentage of visible light that can pass through both the window and the tint film. The higher the VLT percentage, the more light is allowed to transmit through the window. In San Francisco, the regulations specify that the front side windows must have a minimum VLT of 70%, meaning that at least 70% of visible light must pass through the window.


Windshield Regulations:

The windshield is subject to specific regulations regarding window tinting. In San Francisco, the top 4 inches of the windshield may be tinted, but it must not extend below the AS-1 line. The AS-1 line is a reference point marked on the windshield and indicates the maximum height of any tinting or aftermarket film.


Tint Darkness Limitations:

In addition to the VLT requirements, there are restrictions on the darkness or opacity of window tinting in San Francisco. The regulations state that the front side windows, excluding the windshield, must allow at least 88% of light to pass through. This means that the tint darkness should not exceed 12% opacity. However, rear side windows and the rear window can have any darkness level, allowing for more flexibility in tinting options.


Medical Exemptions:

San Francisco, like many other locations, allows for medical exemptions from the standard window tinting regulations. Individuals with medical conditions that require additional protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays may be eligible for an exemption. However, obtaining a medical exemption typically requires proper documentation from a licensed physician or optometrist.


Law Enforcement Considerations:

It’s important to note that law enforcement officers need to be able to see inside the vehicle for safety purposes. Therefore, overly dark or reflective window tinting can raise concerns and may result in a citation. It’s advisable to ensure that your window tinting complies with the regulations and does not obstruct visibility.


Non-Reflective Tinting:

San Francisco regulations specify that window tinting must be non-reflective. Reflective tints, commonly known as mirrored tints, are not allowed as they can cause distractions and reflections that may impair the visibility of other drivers.


Commercial Vehicle Regulations:

If you own a commercial vehicle in San Francisco, there may be additional regulations to consider. Commercial vehicles are subject to different tinting laws, which may vary depending on the type and purpose of the vehicle. It’s essential to consult the specific regulations applicable to commercial vehicles to ensure compliance.



Understanding the window tinting laws in San Francisco is crucial when considering tinting your vehicle or property’s windows. Compliance with these regulations ensures that you avoid any legal issues and potential fines. Remember to adhere to the Visible Light Transmission (VLT) requirements, maintain appropriate tint darkness levels, and consider any medical exemptions if applicable. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the benefits of window tinting while staying within the bounds of the law. Contact or call us for more information!