Vehicle Registration Questions and Answers

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What if DMV has not received the electronic certificate when I attempt to register my vehicle?
If you are going to register your vehicle in person at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) field office, be sure to bring your Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) and any notices sent by DMV with you. The VIR indicates whether your car passed or failed the Smog Check and includes an identification number to help DMV track your electronic certificate, if necessary.

Do I need a Smog Check if I’m planning to register my vehicle as non-operational?
No. A Smog Check is only required every other year upon registration renewal for a vehicle that the owner intends to operate in California. However, if you register a vehicle as non-operational, but then at a later time wish to bring the vehicle back to operational status, a smog inspection may be required.

What do I do if I received a “Notice of Incomplete Registration” from DMV?
DMV sends motorists this notice when it cannot locate a Smog Check certificate for a vehicle. If you receive one of these notices, you may do one of two things: (1) If you have not yet completed a Smog Check, do so. Once DMV receives an electronic certificate of compliance, the DMV database will be updated and your registration and license plate sticker will be issued. No further action is required on your part. (2) If you have already successfully completed a Smog Check, please allow 30 days to receive your registration and sticker. If, after 30 days, you still have not received your registration and license plate sticker, contact DMV for further assistance.

My renewal notice says my vehicle needs a Smog Check but the vehicle is located out of state and will not be back for many months. It’s too far to bring back to California for a smog inspection. Can I get my vehicle tested in another state and send the results to DMV?
No. There is no need to get a smog inspection in another state, as it will not be valid in California. In order to complete your registration, simply fill out and sign DMV’s Statement of Facts form stating the reason why the vehicle cannot be tested. DMV will mail the registration and license plate sticker to wherever the car is currently located.

Do I need a Smog Check if I’m selling my vehicle and recently had it tested to renew its registration in California?
California Vehicle Code section 4000.1(d)(1) specifies that a Smog Check certificate is not needed upon changing ownership if the application for transfer is submitted to DMV within 90 days of the vehicle receiving a Smog Check certificate. Therefore, if your vehicle received certification of a passing Smog Check within 90 days of the sale, another Smog Check certificate is not required to transfer ownership.

Who is responsible for getting a Smog Check performed when a vehicle is being sold?
California Vehicle Code section 24007(b)(2) states that it is the responsibility of the seller to provide a valid smog certificate at the time of delivery of the vehicle to the buyer.

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