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Vehicle Emissions Testing in California

In California, an emission check is required for many original registrations, as well as for every alternate registration renewal. Renewal notices are sent to vehicle owners, and indicate whether and by what date an emissions test must be completed and if your vehicle needs a smog-check at a test-only station.


Vehicles that are not listed in the exempt list below, and registered in all counties except six require a smog inspection. In the six counties (El Dorado, Placer, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Sonoma) tests are required only within certain zip codes.


Emissions tests are valid for 90 days. A valid test is required to reinstate your suspended registration and to complete an original vehicle registration or registration renewal. Used car dealers are required to issue a valid emissions test for any vehicle they sell. Getting an emissions test is the buyer's responsibility when the vehicle is purchased from a private owner.


A vehicle is exempt from smog testing when:

  1. It is a diesel vehicle.
  2. It is an electric powered vehicle.
  3. It is a gas powered vehicle which weighs more than 14,000 pounds.
  4. A hybrid vehicle.
  5. A motorcycle.
  6. A trailer.
  7. It is made in 1975 or before.
If your vehicle is less than six years old, you will not need to have an emissions test carried out. However, you will have to pay an annual smog abatement fee of $24. This does not apply to a custom built car made after 1976.


For an emissions test station that is nearest to you click here.


The fees for emissions tests are different at each testing station. This is because the California government does not regulate the fees.


If your vehicle fails the check, you will need to call the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) at 800-952-5210 for further information. You may be eligible to participate in the Voluntary Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Program. The government has also set up the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) to help finance the repair of vehicles that fail the emissions test biennially. Under this program, you could collect $500 from the state to help with the repairs. For more information, check here.


  • If you purchase a vehicle from another state, you will need to check with the DMV as to whether it has to undergo an emissions test before you can get it registered.
  • If you are out of state, or if your vehicle is otherwise unavailable for inspection, you can register your vehicle or renew your registration by submitting your registration fees. Once you return to California, you will have to get the emissions test done.
  • If you transfer a vehicle that is less than four years old, you do not need to get an emissions test done. The new owner will have to pay a smog transfer fee.
  • See also Vehicle History Reports.

Reviews of Vehicle Emissions Testing in California

If I payed my fees in full and then got my smog done . Will my tags be sent to me automatically or do I have to go back to my D.M.V. office to get them ?

I am visiting here for 6 months from Washington and need to get my Wa tabs for my car but need an emission test. Can I get an emission here in Ca for Wa tabs?

I need to extend the temporary operating permit. The smog check has not been done due to the vehicle needing more repairs and parts. How do I extend the permit? It was unable to be fixed in the amount of time allowed. thank you

I am an out of state student and I want to keep my car registered in the state that I am from(Illinois), but I need to get an emissions test on my car here in CA. How do I go about doing this?

my truck is in Seattle Washington can i pay registration fees get my tag and smog trk when trk returns to calif. ??

Emission test site still not working. Last told in March, 2011

I am temporarily moving to CA from TX. If my vehicle needs to be inspected before I move back, what are my requirements?

I am bringing my car (2001 Mitsubishi Mirage) from Connecticut to California. Is there is any recommended test/service center in Connecticut which can do the emission and smog testing, so that I can confirm my car is emission and smog compliant demanded by the state of California

Your link to emission test locations is not working. Please fix. Thanks.

I am purchasing a 2008 truck in Alabama and driving it home to California. What do I need to do as far as smog certificate or do I do anything? Please advise.