If you want to import a vehicle, legally, contact: ImportAVehicle.com

Friday, July 31, 2020


How to : Register a vehicle imported from another country in California

You always need:

R32 GT-R, Honda Beat, and more R32 GT-R at the emissions lab undergoing California testing

You may also need:

  • Evidence of compliance with California emissions standards (1968 year model and newer gasoline-powered vehicles and 1980 year model and newer diesel-powered vehicles).
  • Evidence of compliance with U.S. emission standards (vehicles 20 years old and newer).
  • Evidence of compliance with United States (U.S.) safety standards (vehicles 24 years old and newer).

What Is a Direct Import Vehicle?

A direct import is a vehicle that is not manufactured to meet U.S. federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) and/or California emissions standards and not intended by the manufacturer to be used or sold in the U.S.

It may be very costly or impossible to modify vehicles not originally manufactured to meet California Air Resources Board (CARB) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions requirements, and Department of Transportation (DOT) FMVSS.

Not all direct import vehicles over two years old can be converted to California emissions standards and FMVSS. If the vehicle is a 1968 or newer year model auto or commercial vehicle, or a 1978 or newer year model motorcycle that does not comply with EPA or CARB emission requirements, contact CARB by phone at 1-800-242-4450 or by email at helpline@www.arb.ca.gov.

Motorcycles, off-highway vehicles, and diesel-powered vehicles cannot be converted to California emissions standards at this time. Therefore, they cannot be registered in California unless they were originally manufactured to meet U.S. and California emissions standards.

Can I Register a Direct Import Vehicle in California?

Anyone who brings an imported vehicle into California, or purchases an imported vehicle while in California, should be aware that some vehicles cannot be registered in California or in the U.S. (California Health & Safety Code §§39024.6, 43150–43156, 43203.5, 43600, and 44200–44210). For rules and exceptions, see the Buying a Vehicle From Out of State–Can You Register It in California? (FFVR 29) Fast Facts brochure.

Vehicles (and engines) imported from other countries must comply with requirements of the following agencies:

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for emissions requirements.
  • U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for safety requirements.
  • U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for gas-guzzler taxes.
  • California Air Resources Board (CARB) for emissions requirements.
  • California Board of Equalization (BOE) for use tax.

If the vehicle was not originally manufactured to meet California emissions standards and DOT FMVSS, the vehicle cannot be registered in California, unless the vehicle is modified and tested under CARB’s direct import program.

Where Do I Find Information?

  • For CARB’s direct import program information see the CARB website at www.arb.ca.gov.
  • For EPA information, see the EPA website at www.epa.gov and their Procedures for Importing Vehicles and Engines into the United States (EPA-420-B-10-027) publication.
  • For federal vehicle importation and certification standards, see the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website at www.nhtsa.gov.
  • For importation or clearance information, see the CBP website at www.cbp.gov or contact CBP at 1-877-227-5511.
  • For California emissions, see the CARB website at ww2.arb.ca.gov or contact CARB at 1-800-242-4450.
  • For gas-guzzler tax information, see the IRS website at www.irs.gov.
  • For California use tax information, see the BOE website at www.boe.ca.gov.

How Do I Register a Qualified Imported Vehicle?

Imported vehicle registration applications require the same documents shown in the How To: Register A Vehicle From Out-of-State (Nonresident Vehicle) (HTVR 09) brochure.

In addition, the application must include the following forms for:

  • Customs—Evidence the vehicle has cleared CBP. Evidence is CBP forms 3299, 3311, 3461, 6059, or 7501 stamped or endorsed by CBP.
  • U.S. Safety—Evidence of compliance with U.S. FMVSS vehicles 24 years old or newer. Satisfactory evidence is one of the following:
    • The federal certification label affixed to the vehicle certifies the vehicle conforms to FMVSS.
    • A copy of the letter from the manufacturer certifying the vehicle complies with FMVSS and U.S. emissions standards (usually attainable only for vehicles from Canada).
    • A copy of the DOT bond release letter issued by the NHTSA.
    • A certificate of conformity issued by a CARB-licensed laboratory.
  • Emissions—Evidence of compliance with EPA and California emission standards. Any of the following are acceptable:
    • An EPA and California emissions label affixed to the vehicle.
    • A certificate of conformity issued by a CARB-licensed laboratory. No smog certification is required if this document is submitted for original registration.
    • A letter from the manufacturer stating the vehicle complies with FMVSS and U.S. emissions requirements (usually only attainable for vehicles from Canada).

Will My Title Be Branded NON-USA?

Yes. The vehicle title will be branded with “NON-USA” if the vehicle does not have a U.S. federal certification label (safety label) and U.S. emissions label affixed by the manufacturer.

When Do I Pay Fees to Register?

The date that registration fees become due for out-of-state vehicles varies. For complete date fees due, residency, and exemption information, see the How To: Determine Residency/When Fees Are Due on Out-of-State Vehicles (HTVR 33) brochure.

Registration fees for your out-of-state vehicle must be paid to DMV within 20 days of entry into California to avoid penalties, even if you do not have all of the other requirements needed to register the vehicle in California (California Vehicle Code §516). When the fees are paid in full, DMV will issue a one time 30-day temporary operating permit to allow you time to complete the other registration requirements.

What Fees Are Due?

The amount of fees due depends on a variety of factors. For an estimate, use the fee calculator. An exact amount can only be calculated when you submit your registration application to DMV.

Final Registration Approval

DMV field offices will send the completed imported vehicle application to the Technical Compliance Section in DMV headquarters for final determination as to whether the vehicle can be registered in California.


Toprank Importers in Cypress, California can sell you direct import vehicles that have been converted to California standards, and are legal to register and drive in California. It is a time consuming, and costly process, but it is possible to do.  If you are looking for a legal JDM car that you can own in California then Toprank Importers is the only importer with 20 years experience working with California emissions testing labs. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

California Air Resources Board acts to streamline aftermarket parts exemption process

Suzuki Cappuccino at RentJDM
Suzuki Cappuccino at RentJDM in Las Vegas

CARB and industry work together to ensure performance products can get to market faster

SACRAMENTO  Today, the California Air Resources Board adopted an updated and streamlined approach to the current procedures for exemptions from California anti- tampering laws for add-on and modified “aftermarket” parts.

This approach was developed in response to rapidly evolving vehicle technology.  CARB worked cooperatively with the aftermarket parts industry to update its regulations to address today’s advanced vehicle technology while still protecting the integrity of the systems that controls harmful and toxic emissions.

”These new requirements address recent and more advanced technologies that didn’t exist when the procedures were first written,” said CARB Assistant Executive Officer Annette Hebert. “This is a positive outcome that will benefit consumers and industry and result in faster access to approved aftermarket parts.”

Aftermarket parts are modifications that were not part of the design of the vehicle or engine when originally certified for sale in California.  Any parts that have the potential to impact emissions are subject to the protections of California’s anti-tampering regulation, and require an exemption from CARB prior to being sold in the state.

Aftermarket parts are typically installed by consumers to improve performance, add functions, or for aesthetic value. Permission to install parts such as superchargers, turbos, air intakes, and exhaust systems is given only after a thorough engineering evaluation and testing demonstrates that the parts will not impact the performance of the vehicle’s emissions controls.

Over 200 applications for aftermarket parts are submitted annually and that number is expected to grow in the coming years. Since the last amendments to the aftermarket process in 1990, there have been revolutionary changes in the design of new vehicles and emission control systems. CARB staff recognized the rapid advancements in engine and drive train engineering and made updating its evaluation and review process of aftermarket parts a priority.

The improvements adopted today will clarify exemption requirements by presenting a more detailed description of CARB review criteria and providing uniform information to manufacturers regarding testing requirements. The streamlined application and review process will allow products to get to the market faster. The new process will commence in 2021.

Midnight Purple II R34 GT-R imported under Show or Display. 25 Year old R33 GT-R
Midnight Purple II R34 GT-R imported under Show or Display. 25 Year old R33 GT-R

Monday, July 6, 2020

Loading and Shipping Vehicles for Mad Max Fury Road : Container Shipping from the US to Australia

M811 6x6 trucks loaded and shipped to Australia along with many other vehicles and bodies for Mad Max Fury Road, back in 2009. It was a long time from when we shipped all these vehicles, until the movie was released.   Check out this video from Mad Max Bible.

It doesn't look like it will fit.
Wheels removed
Sliding one of the M811’s into a 40 foot high cube container

34 Chevy  body.  Some people have said that this body was a Ford, but it was a Chevrolet. Check out a few more 1934 Chevrolets.  https://barnfinds.com/all-original-barn-find-1934-chevrolet-coupe-deluxe/

Monday, June 29, 2020

Navistar settles air quality violations for $2 million

Navistar settles air quality violations for $2 million
Settlement includes $1 million to fund new air filtration systems in Southern California schools

SACRAMENTO – Truck manufacturer Navistar Inc. has paid $2 million to resolve allegations that it altered heavy-duty vehicle engines from their certified design, potentially causing excess diesel emissions and negatively impacting air quality.

The Illinois-based company modified its vehicle calibrations from their certified design through “running changes” in the engines of its heavy-duty trucks without notifying the California Air Resources Board that the changes were being made, as is required. The undocumented running changes were implemented on new vehicles in production and were also deployed to post-production vehicles in the field. An undocumented running change is an unauthorized change to a previously approved engine design, and is considered a violation because of its potential to affect engine performance leading to increases in smog-forming and toxic emissions. The violations were discovered during routine engine testing by CARB.

“Engine modifications are allowed when they are disclosed up front and fully evaluated to confirm there are no negative emissions impacts,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. “These design changes by Navistar differed significantly from what was approved for sale. The high penalty reflects how seriously we take this type of activity and underscores that efforts to circumvent the rules will be discovered and never end well for the manufacturers.”

The company was cooperative throughout CARB’s investigation and agreed to pay $1,013,400 (50%) to the Air Pollution Control Fund to support air quality research. The remaining half will be paid to the South Coast Air Quality Management District and will be used to install and maintain high-performance air filtration systems in Southern California schools, especially those located in disadvantaged communities disproportionately impacted by air pollution.

Diesel exhaust contains a variety of harmful gases and more than 40 other known cancer-causing compounds. In 1998, California identified diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant based on its potential to cause cancer, premature death and other health problems.

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