CALIFORNIA RULES

Why can’t I register an Import in California

12.050 Direct Import Vehicles

Direct imports are vehicles which have been imported and originally manufactured for use in other countries. These vehicles may have foreign emission and/or safety labels, or no labels. A Vehicle Identification Number Analysis (VINA) validation determines when a vehicle is a direct import (grey market) vehicle.

Registration and/or Titling Requirements—The following must be submitted:

  • The basic nonresident registration documentation outlined in the Basic Registration Requirements section in this chapter.
  • Evidence or documentation to prove that the vehicle was imported legally and cleared U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP forms 7501, 3461, 6059, 3299, or 3311, stamped or endorsed by CBP are acceptable. This does not apply to U.S. territories.
  • Evidence that the vehicle was modified to meet Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). This may be FMVSS labels affixed to the vehicle or a letter from the manufacturer certifying the vehicle meets FMVSS requirements.
  • Evidence that the vehicle was modified to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards and requirements. This may be a label affixed to the vehicle or letter from the manufacturer stating the vehicle meets U.S. EPA requirements.

Manufacturers may certify to FMVSS and EPA requirements on the same letter.

  • If the vehicle is less than two years old, a certificate of conformance from a California Air Resources Board (CARB) authorized laboratory.
  • A smog certificate, if required.

When an application for direct import vehicles is submitted:

  • Do not accept a REG 256F, REV. 8/2016 or prior revisions.
  • Inform the applicant the exemptions are not applicable to direct import vehicles.

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