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Registering Vehicle Brought From Mexico in California

Hi, I just moved from Mexico to CA. I have a mexican car (bought in Mexico) that I want to register in California. What are the steps that I need to take to do that? Do I have to get a smog check?


More than likely, you'll need to have the vehicle (may be referred to as a Grey Market vehicle, depending on its emissions certification) inspected by the smog check referee's office... unless, you check the vehicle's underhood emissions label and find that its emissions certification states the vehicle conforms to 49-State Federal Emissions or 50-State California Emissions. If either of these two exist, you may simply visit any California smog check station and obtain a smog inspection. For vehicle registration in California, you will also need a VIN Verification. Contact your local DMV office for an appointment. A California Highway Patrol officer will need to verify that the vehicle identification number on your documentation matches that of your vehicle.

If the vehicle does not conform to US emissions standards (CA or FED), it must to be refereed to a California Smog Check Referee Office. You may contact the referee by calling (800) 622-7733 and make an appointment for smog inspection. A local privately owned smog check center can not smog check a Grey Market vehicle. "Grey Market" is the title given to vehicles brought in from out of the U.S. After an initial inspection and passing at a Smog referee office, subsequent inspections can be obtained at regular smog center. Your vehicle will be affixed a Blue Tag indicating it conforms to California emission standards. Note: Getting a vehicle important from out of the country to pass a California emissions test may be a lengthy process if the vehicle is not equipped with emission components as required in California.

Again, the key is to check the Underhood Emissions Label. It will indicate whether the vehicle was built for use (sale) in the US or not. The process is MUCH simpler if the vehicle was originally manufactured for sales in the United States.

posted by SmogTips Support

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