Buying/Importing Out of State Vehicle
If you just moved to California with your out of state vehicle, purchased or are planning on buying an out of state car, in order to register it you will need to obtain a California smog check.
You're first step should be to visit a local California Department of Motor Vehicles field office and inquire on additional documents your vehicle's registration might require; other than current liability insurance, a valid and passing smog check certificate, and an out of state title or vehicle pink slip. You can always go directly to a smog check center first and then the DMV. If you've got all your paperwork in order getting your smog check before visiting the DMV will save you a return trip.
What type of smog station can inspect my out of state car?
Any type of smog station can inspect and certify your out of state vehicle (smog check & repair center, smog test only center, or any STAR certified smog station) so long as it's a used vehicle with at least 7,500 miles. New vehicles can not be registered in California unless they are 50-State Emissions certified.
If you've heard about California's strict smog laws there is no need to worry.
The fact is there is difference with California legal and Federal legal emission requirements, and for the most part, California is stricter. However, a used vehicle which is equipped with the necessary Federal Emission components is eligible for California registration as long as the vehicle's exhaust emissions fall within California's limits. It's true, in some cases Federal cars have different emission components but this does not ban them from being registered in California.
California Insurance - California State law requires that once you become a resident of California you obtain a State driver's license and also register and insure you car in this state within 10 days of moving here.
California state law also requires all motor vehicle owners to have insurance which provides Bodily Injury Coverage and Vehicle Damage Coverage. Auto insurance will be required prior to your vehicle's registration being completed.
Minimum Requirements - The required minimum coverage for bodily injury is $15,000 per person injured in any one accident and $30,000 for all persons injured in any one accident.
The minimum coverage required for vehicle damage is $5,000 for injury to or the destruction of property of others in any one auto or car accident.
Please note these are only minimum car insurance coverage requirements, and are in place mainly for the protection of the other driver and his or her vehicle.
In order to insure your own vehicle you must have purchased comprehensive and collision insurance. Comprehensive and collision insurance is not required by the state of California but is highly recommended.
You will need this coverage to pay for your own vehicle's repairs as opposed to the other person's vehicle in the unfortunate event of an auto accident.