Cooling Off Periods: Can I Cancel My Contract in California?

Guide to Contract Cancellation periods aka “Cooling off” periods in California

picture of man hands tearing contract paper
As a consumer in California, you have the right to cancel (for any reason) certain types of transactions within a specified time period. These are often referred to as cooling off periods, or sometimes time-period cancellations, grace periods or buyers remorse periods.

Note that there is NO general cooling off period for contracts. Only certain types of transactions have cooling off periods. This page lists cancellation periods for select types of transactions.

But there may be other ways to get out of a contract.

Also see our Guide to Laws for Consumers in California

Do I get a full refund if I cancel within the cooling off period?

With cooling off periods you do NOT need to pay a cancellation fee, but you may have to pay a prorated amount for any time or services you used before cancelling.

What exactly is a contract anyway?

See our Guide to Contracts and Agreements.

If I am within the cooling off period, how do I cancel?

To properly cancel a contract within the cooling off period, take the following steps:

  • Make the cancellation in writing. You can use the cancellation form provided, or send a letter or email (physical mail is generally best).
  • Keep a copy of your cancellation notice or letter.
  • If you use the mail, send your cancellation notice by certified mail, with return receipt.

1. Car related

Do I have a right to return a car that I just bought or leased?

You do NOT have an automatic right to any cancellation period or cooling off period for automobile sales or leases.1California Vehicle Code Sec 1109.2 However, for USED cars, you do have the right to be offered the option to purchase a 2-day contract “cooling off period” on vehicles with a purchase price of less than $40,000.2CA Vehicle Code Sec 11713.21 This does NOT apply to motorcycles, RVs, or vehicles purchased for business purposes. See more details on this at our Guide to Used Car Contract Cancellation Option.

Do I have the right to cancel a car warranty that I just bought?

For new cars you have 60 days to cancel.3Civ. Code § 1794.41(a)(4)(A) For used cars you 30 days to cancel.4Civ. Code § 1794.41(a)(4)(A)

2. Financial and insurance

Do I have the right to cancel a contract for credit repair services that I just signed?

Yes you have 5 days to cancel.5Civ. Code § 1789.16

Do I have the right to cancel a life insurance policy that I recently signed up for?

If the value of the life insurance policy is LESS THAN $10,000, you have between 10-30 days to cancel, as determined by the insurer.6Ins. Code § 10127.7 Also if it is a “group” life insurance policy AND you are 65 or older, you have 30 days to cancel.7Insurance Code 786

Do I have the right to cancel a disability insurance policy that I recently signed up for? 

Yes, you have 30 days to cancel.8Insurance Code 786

Do I have the right to cancel a property insurance policy?

Yes you may cancel at any time9Ins. Code § 6010(a)

3. Home related

Do I have the right to cancel a home equity sale during foreclosure?

Yes you have 5 business days10Civ. Code § 1695.4(a)

Do I have the right to cancel a home loan?

Yes, within 3 business days1112 CFR 226.23

Do I have the right to cancel a home improvement, repair, or renovation contract?

Yes, within 3 business days if the contract allows for the house to be used as “collateral” (aka a “mechanic’s lien”) in case you can’t pay for the work.12Civ Code 1689.6; 12 CFR 226.23 Most home improvement contracts include this provision, but check your contract to be sure.

Do I have the right to cancel a home repair or restoration contracts after a disaster?

Yes you have 7 business days.13unless contract is automatically void. Civ. Code § 1689.6(c)

Do I have the right to cancel a home-secured transactions?

This is any transaction in which you use your house as collateral in case you can’t later pay for the transaction. There is a cooling off period of 3 business days.1412 CFR 226.23

Can I cancel an electric service contract?

Yes within 3 business days15PUC 395See more about contracts with contractors.

4. Repair Services

Do I have the right to cancel a contract for repair services (warranty) of home appliances or electronics?

Yes you have 30 days16Civ. Code § 1794.41(a)(4)(A)

Do I have the right to cancel a contract for repair services (warranty) for other goods?

You may cancel at any time, but the seller may also charge cancellation fee unless contract is expired17Civ. Code § 1794.41(a)(4)(B)

For car warranty/repair services, see above.

5. Miscellaneous

Do I have the right to cancel a cell phone plan that I just signed up for?

There is NO legally required cooling off period for cell phone purchases or service contracts.18see DCA checklist

Can I cancel a gym or health studio services contract?

Yes, within 5 business days19Civ. Code § 1812.85(b)

Can I cancel a dance studio services contract?

You may cancel at any time20Civ. Code § 1812.54(b)

Can I cancel a dental services contract?

Yes within 3 business days21Civ. Code § 1689.3

Can I cancel a discount buying services plan?

Yes within 3 days22Civ. Code § 1812.118

Can I cancel a funeral contract?

If it is before you need it, you may cancel at any time23B&P 7737

Can I cancel an immigration consultant services contract?

Yes within 3 days24B&P 22442(f)

Can I cancel a job listing services contract?

Yes, within 3 business days25Civ. Code § 1812.516(a)(6)

Can I cancel services of a legal document assistant?

Yes within 24 hours26B&P 6410(e)

Can I cancel a real estate transfer?

If there is a delayed or materially amended Transfer Disclosure Statement, you have 3 days (if statement delivered personally) or 5 days (if statement delivered by mail)27Civ. Code § 1102.3(b)

Can I cancel a contract for a water treatment device?

Yes within 3 business days28B&P 17577.3

Can I cancel weight-loss services?

Yes within 3 business days29Civ. Code § 1694.6(a)

Can I cancel a contract for a vocational school course?

Yes, within 5 days.30DCBA

Can I cancel a contract for dating services?

Yes, within 3 business days.31DCBA

Can I cancel a contract for a vacation timeshare?

Yes, within 7 days.32Business & Professions Code Sec 11225

6. Contracts signed in certain locations

The law provides for cooling-off periods for contracts or sales made outside a seller’s normal place of business. Where California law does not apply, the FTC rule also applies.

Do I have a right to cancel a contract I signed in my home?

For door-to-door sales aka “home solicitation contracts,” almost any consumer contract entered into in your home (or somewhere other than the seller’s place of business) for goods or services of $25 or more can be canceled within 3 business days after you signed the contract.33Civ. Code §§ 1689-1689.12 See more here.

Do I have the right to cancel a contract I signed during a seminar sales pitch?

Yes you have 3 business days34Civ. Code § 1689.20

Do I have the right to cancel a purchase made online or by phone or mail?

Yes, for any purchases made on the internet, or by telephone or mail, when the order has not been filled or product has not shipped within the time frame seller gives you, you may cancel the order. If the seller does not give you a time frame, seller must ship within 30 days, otherwise you may cancel35B&P 17538(a); 16 CFR Part 435

Can a company require a buyer to waive their cooling off rights?

Specifically for home solicitation contracts, it is not waivable, except in certain emergencies.36Civil Code 1689.13 Other than an emergency, if a waiver of the home solicitation contract cooling off period is found in a contract, it is unenforceable and can be ignored.37Civil Code 1689.12

Further Resources

See our Guide to Contracts and Agreements

See our Guide to Laws for Consumers in California

If you need help exercising your rights, talk to a consumer lawyer.

Author

  • Tristan Blaine

    Tristan Blaine is the founder of Law Soup Media, and has been a licensed attorney since 2013.

    About Tristan

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