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Aug 9, 2013

Direct Import Vehicles : Health and Safety Codes : California

Used direct import vehicles are cars that were never originally sold in the US. They are often called "grey market" cars. To many this is sort of a dirty term, but it just has to do with specifics on importing procedures.  Every car legally imported to the US, less than 21 years old, needs to either have a certificate of conformance (Code A), or go though a procedure called "mod and test." (Code C ) on the 3520-1. Code C is for vehicles over 6 years old. 40 CFR 1509.  

Now with the 1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R reaching 25 years old (August 2014), the car will be NHTSA, or exempt from Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. It is over 21 years old, and it gets to fill in Code E if in original configuration. 

However, if you are in California, you can import cars over 25 years old legally, but getting them registered with the California DMV is another issue. Once you get the car, get a VIN verification, pay the fees, and turn in the foreign title, they will place the car in "suspense". They place it in suspense so they can investigate everything related to the car. If you want to get anything more than a "Title Only", then you have to go though Health and Safety Code 44202 to get a certificate of conformance.  To get that, you need to find an emissions testing lab that has the capability to test to California standards. There are very few places that can test to California standards, even less that want to do it, and the procedure itself is expensive.   Shortly I am working with someone on some California testing with a federally imported R33, as the last time I was involved was back in 2006. I will keep everyone updated on the procedure and figure out some current costs. The costs in 2006, were around $8,000 per car for parts, and required testing.  

Direct Import Used Motor Vehicles

44200.  For purposes of this chapter, "used direct import vehicle" means any 1975 or later model-year direct import vehicle not required to be certified as a new direct import vehicle pursuant to this part.
For purposes of this section, the age of a motor vehicle shall be determined by the following, in descending order of preference:
(a) From the first calendar day of the model year as indicated in the vehicle identification number.
(b) From the last calendar day of the month the vehicle was delivered by the manufacturer as shown on the foreign title document.
(c) From January 1 of the same calendar year as the model year shown on the foreign title document.
(d) From the last calendar day of the month the foreign title document was issued.
(Amended Ch. 859, Stats. 1989. Effective January 1, 1990.)

44201.  The state board shall adopt, by regulation, a certification program for used direct import vehicles. The state board shall issue a certificate of conformance to each used direct import vehicle which meets the requirements of this program.
(Amended Ch. 859, Stats. 1989. Effective January 1, 1990.)

44202.  A used direct import vehicle which was not registered in this state prior to the adoption of regulations adopted pursuant to Section 44201, may not be registered in this state unless it has received a certificate of conformance from the state board, except as provided in Section 44210.

(Amended Ch. 859, Stats. 1989. Effective January 1, 1990.)

44210.  The requirements of Section 44202 do not apply to any motor vehicle having a certificate of conformity issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to the federal Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. Section 7401, et seq.) and originally registered in another state by a person who was a resident of that state for at least one year prior to the original registration, who subsequently establishes residence in this state and who, upon registration of the vehicle in California, provides evidence satisfactory to the Department of Motor Vehicles of that previous residence and registration. forum for discussion about importing vehicles over 25 years old to the US.


Anonymous said...

My question is will the feds allow skylines (R32s) to be imported that are over 25 years old at all for regular street use? Or will they be banned no matter what? I live in a non-emissions state in the midwest so it appears that it would be much easier to register a skyline in my state.

Sean Morris said...

Once the cars are over 25 years, then they are NHTSA exempt. Skyline, Silvia, Alfa Romeo, doesn't matter. Over 21 years old in original configuration is EPA exempt. Importing and registration are two different things. You are still required to meet federal emissions requirements in your state, you just may not have "in-use" testing.