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Q: Importing a car into California with Northeast emissions ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Importing a car into California with Northeast emissions
Category: Sports and Recreation > Automotive
Asked by: grammatoncleric-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 14 Mar 2006 02:24 PST
Expires: 13 Apr 2006 03:24 PDT
Question ID: 707080
Now that the Northeastern states are adopting California emissions
standards for motor vehicles (and providing for the fact that states,
according to the Federal Clean Air Act of 1991, can either comply with
the federal standards or the prior more-stringent California
standards), if a car I want to buy is "Northeast emissions certified,"
will I be able to import it into California?

My dilemma is that a specific vehicle I want is specified as NE
emissions certified (being sold in New England), but I'm unsure as to
whether it will be legal in California even if the car's emissions
stanards live up to California's standards de facto - I'm basically
worried that the sticker inside the engine which specifies compliance
with Northeast standards will not satisfy the DMV bureaucrat who
reviews my car upon its importation into California.  Does the car
have to have a 'California' sticker or will a 'Northeast' sticker
suffice?  Are the stickers even different?  Etc. Etc.

Note, this car has fewer than 7500 miles, so it is considered a new
car (which is why I'm facing this dilemma - if it had more than 7500
miles, I could import it without question).

Authoritative research to back up your answer is required, for
instance, by calling various state agencies in California, etc.
Subject: Re: Importing a car into California with Northeast emissions
Answered By: hummer-ga on 14 Mar 2006 07:25 PST
Hi grammatoncleric,

There are only two types of stickers that certify that a car is good
to go in California and both of them will have the word "California"
in the text of the sticker. One is "50 State/California Certified" and
the other is "California Certified". "Federally Certified" means for
49 states only and "Northeast emissions certified" doesn't mean much
and it sounds as though someone may be trying to put something over on

Check the Underhood Label For Certification Information:
"To find out whether a car or truck is California certified, check the
emission control label under the hood in the engine compartment. If
the vehicle is "California certified," this label will state that the
vehicle conforms to California regulations or that it is legal for
sale in California. If a vehicle is "federally certified," the label
will state that the vehicle conforms to U.S. EPA regulations, no
mention will be made of meeting California requirements."

You can see samples of the labels here:

Check the Label
"To find out whether a car or truck is California Certified, check the
emission label under the hood. For a motorcycle check the headset or
frame. The label should read that the vehicle conforms to California
regulations, or that it is legal for sale in California."

How To Register A Nonresident Vehicle
NOTE: California law prohibits importing and/or registering a new
vehicle (one with less than 7,500 miles at the time of purchase)
unless it meets or is exempt from California Emission standards. If
you acquire a 49 state vehicle (vehicle manufactured for all states
except California) from another state or country and do not qualify
for one of the exemptions, you cannot register your vehicle and must
immediately remove it from this state."

NY, VT, ME and MA are currently the only four states which meet
California Rules Section 177 emissions requirements.

Section 177 States Vehicle Emissions Control Requirements  
Status on California Rules Adoption
New York, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts

Additional Link of Interest:

Department of Consumer Affairs
Bureau of Automotive Repair
Smog Check Program

I was glad to find this for you. If you have any questions, please
post a clarification request and wait for me to respond before
closing/rating my answer.

Thank you,

Google Search Terms Used:  50 state vehicles california
"California-certified" sticker glossary vehicle cross border out of
Subject: Re: Importing a car into California with Northeast emissions
From: joe916-ga on 14 Mar 2006 08:13 PST
I think this will help you a lot.

from the year 2005 Handbook of Registration Procedures Chapter 21
in part it states

21.010 Prohibited Transactions (H&SC 43150 through 43156)
Only new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines certified by the California
Air Resources Board (ARB) to meet California?s stringent emission standards and
test procedures can to be used and/or registered in California.
By law, no person who is a resident of, or who operates an established place of
business within this state shall import, deliver, purchase, rent,
lease, acquire, or
receive a new motor vehicle, new motor vehicle engine, or motor vehicle with a new
motor vehicle engine, for use and registration, or resale within this
state unless such
motor vehicle engine or motor vehicle has been certified to comply with existing
California emission standards. No person shall attempt to assist in
any such action.

21.015 Emission Control Standards
Used Vehicles-Used vehicles are defined as vehicles with 7,500 or more odometer
miles. A smog certification is acceptable as evidence of compliance.

New Vehicles-For emission control purposes, California law defines a new vehicle,
other than a direct import, as a vehicle having less than 7,500
odometer miles. This
applies to all motorcycles, including a direct import. These vehicles must be
factory-equipped with an emission system approved by the California Air Resources
Board (ARB) and have a California Emission Control Label affixed by the
The compliance certification on the Application for Registration of New Vehicle
(REG 397) indicates the vehicle meets this requirement. A smog certification is
required on original applications that are not reported on a REG 397.


Vehicles That Meet U.S. EPA and California Emission Standards (50-state
vehicles) and Are So Labeled-These vehicles meet federal and California
emission and safety standards and may be registered regardless of odometer mileage.

49-State Vehicle-
These vehicles meet U.S. EPA emission requirements and are so
labeled. These vehicles cannot be registered to a California resident
who acquired or
purchased the vehicle with less than 7500 odometer miles unless the owner qualifies
for an exemption, as explained in the Exemptions portion of this section.
factory-equipped with an emission system"

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