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My Car is Temporarily Out-of-State But Needs a CA Smog Check

Can I complete my DMV registration renewal without getting a California smog check?

Unless your vehicle is in Nevada or Mexico, you DO NOT need to bring it back to California in order to complete your registration. Do not obtain a smog inspection in another state, it will not be valid in California. The California DMV does not recognize out of state smog inspections for the purposes of initial vehicle registration in this state or vehicle registration renewal.

Simply fill out and sign DMV's "Statement of Facts" form (Section G), OR complete Reg 5103, explaining your vehicle is out of state and the registration tags will be mailed to the current address on DMV records. You may then have the new registration card and sticker forwarded to your out of state address.

You can obtain a Statement of Facts form (Reg 256) or Temporary Smog Exemption (Reg 5103) by downloading it from this page.

If you choose not to use Reg 5103 you must use Reg 256 and indicate at Section G on the form where specifically your vehicle is located, including full address, the reason the vehicle is out of state, when the vehicle will return to California, who is currently operating the vehicle, and the current registered owners name, address, and signature. We recommend using Reg 5103. Specific blank lines for this information is provided and it will help you keep your information neat and organized; allowing for faster processing of your out-of-state smog check exemption request.

Allow at least 30 days from the time you mail the DMV your REG 5103 (or REG 256) and renewal payment for them to authorize and process your renewal without a smog check.

If you do not have someone to forward your new registration to your out-of-state address and you simply want to receive your new registration where you're currently at, or it's close to your vehicle's registration expiration date and you don't have the 30 days needed to go through the state, consider using NeedTags. They can process your smog check exemption immediately and mail your new registration card and sticker to any address in the U.S.

If your vehicle is in Nevada or Mexico, you will be required to drive to California in order to obtain a smog inspection.

You may download the Statement of Facts Form (Reg 256) here, and Temporary Smog Exemption Form (Reg 5103) here.

Which Type Should I Choose?


Complete either form, and mail it in with your registration renewal to the address provided on either document.

California Insurance - 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 Coverage - The required minimum insurance 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.

Process by Mail or In Person - You may submit Statement of Facts Form or Temporary Smog Exemption Form in person by making an appointment at your local DMV branch office, or by mailing in to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 942869
Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

For questions or concerns you may contact the DMV at (800) 777-0133.

California Smog Check Program applies to the following vehicles - A smog certificate will be required to operate these vehicles on public roadways: Acura, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Bentley, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Lamborghini, Daihatsu, Dodge, Eagle, Ferrari, Ford, GMC, Geo, Honda, Hummer, Hyundai, Infiniti, International, Isuzu, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Daewoo, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Lotus, Maserati, Maybach, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Mercury, Mini, Mitsubishi, Morgan, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Peugeot, Plymouth, Pontiac, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Saab, Saturn, Scion, Smart, Sterling, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen, VW, Volvo.