Question: Can I get an inspection sticker for my car without going through an inspection?
Answer: Well, off the cuff, I’d say “No way José!” However, I thought that might be a poorly thought out response, so I thought I’d go to some US State websites and see what they had to say. I reviewed 10 states in various parts of the country, and here’s the surprising results of what I found…
New York – “All vehicles registered in New York State must get a safety inspection and an emissions inspection every 12 months. Both inspections are also required when the ownership of a vehicle is transferred. (Some vehicles are exempt from emissions inspections.) Both inspections are done at the same time by a DMV-certified inspector at privately-owned inspection stations licensed by DMV.” So, “NO” in NY.
New Jersey – “You can make an appointment online for State inspection facilities in Salem, Cape May or Washington (Warren county).” So, “NO” in NJ.
Massachusetts – Massachusetts introduced its “next generation” vehicle emissions testing and safety inspection program on, October 1, 2008. Vehicles 1996 and newer will be tested for emissions (On Board Diagnostic test) every year along with the annual safety inspection. Motorists will be able to choose which inspection station they use as long as the station is licensed. The cost of the test is among the lowest in the nation for this type of program. The Mass Vehicle Check will continue to cost $29 annually. So, “NO” in MA also.
Let’s move south a bit to Virginia – “Generally, all new car dealerships perform inspections. Many garages that repair vehicles are licensed to perform inspections. They will display a large white sign with blue lettering designating them as an official inspection station. Many businesses advertise inspection services in your local phone directory.” So, “NO” in VA.
Going west to the great (big) state of Texas – “If your vehicle is not registered in one of the emissions counties, then you will have to get the vehicle re-inspected at one of the local inspection stations in your area. Currently, there are no replacement procedures for non-emissions county motorists. Hmmmm… looks like a big “NO” in TX also!
Maybe things are looser in the Pacific Northwest. Washington State’s regs read “If you live in the following counties, your vehicle may need to get an emissions test every 2 years:
- Clark County
- King County
- Pierce County
- Snohomish County
- Spokane County”
So it looks like a good chance that if you live out of the 5 most populated areas in WA (unlikely as 90% of the population lives in these 5 counties), you can get by without an inspection. I also know that the State of Washington does not use stickers for the inspection, but they do keep track via the central computers in the state capital and they will come and get you. This is the state of my residence, so I know this to be the case.
What about the laid back Midwest. I decided to check Kansas, and a ray of hope if you can stand living among the corn stalks! “Kansas does not have emissions enforcement for motor vehicles. You are not required to have your vehicle tested, and, consequently, no related paperwork is required in order to register your vehicle.” So, a big “YES” for KS!.
Many moons ago, I lived in Mississippi. The folks down there seem pretty laid back, so I thought I’d see what I could find there. Good news! At least for the time being as you’ll see by the wording here. “Mississippi meets all federal guidelines for air quality, so it has not yet made smog and emission checks mandatory for the vehicles of its residents. So, for the time being, “YES” if you want to live in the alligator swamps! Well, at least in the south of the state.
Let’s catch one more state… that’ll give us a smorgasbord from around the country. How about Minnesota? When I checked in to Minnesota, I had a pleasant surprise! “Minnesota’s vehicle emissions testing ended in 1999, when the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requested reclassification of the area’s air quality status from the federal government and got it.” I didn’t even know you could reverse something like this. Usually, once a bureaucracy is in place, they’re kind of like a cancer – very hard to remove. Kudos to Minnesota for a big fat “YES!”
So, as usual, the heavy regulatory states tend to be the most highly populated states in the Northeastern United States, and the socialistic leaning Western states, OR, WA, and of course, CA. But the good news is that the Midwest and the West (excepting the aforementioned triage) have clean air and no testing is required, at least of the three we reviewed.
So, if you live in those states, yeah, you better get those stickers. But if not, then you’re in luck. But I’m guessing by the way you framed your question, you’re going to have to move to the Midwest or the South or Alaska to avoid those stickers.
Here’s all the states in alphabetical order –
Alabama – Alabama does not require emissions testing of vehicles, although by state law any city can pass laws to begin testing. Currently none have done so.
Alaska – As of March 1, 2012 emission inspections are no longer required in Alaska. Another reversal. This may also speak to the fact that the US has so many emissions controls on vehicles.
Arizona – The Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP) applies to vehicles in the metro Phoenix and Tucson areas whose model year falls after 1967, mandating that the cars’ emissions levels be inspected 90 days before their registration renewal date.
Arkansas – Arkansas does not require annual vehicle inspections. However, the state still expects you to pay careful attention to your vehicle emissions. Yeah, I’ll bet every redneck in Arkansas is getting’ that emission checked out annually (smirk).
California – Whether you need it or not, the California DMV will mail you a registration renewal notice telling you whether you are required to get your vehicle smogged; it will also tell you if your vehicle requires a smog check at a test-only station. However, if your vehicle is six or less model years old, you are not required to obtain smog certification as long as you pay the annual $20 smog abatement fee. California will get you coming or going!
Colorado – An “enhanced test” is required in Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson as well as parts of Adams and Arapahoe counties. Even if you happen to live in a county that does not test, or only has the basic test (see below), yet you commute into these areas, then you also need to pass the enhanced test. A basic test is required in parts of Larimer, Weld, and El Paso counties. The area boundaries can get confusing, so if you are unclear as to your county’s requirements just give the local title and registration office a call. Or just scream.
Connecticut – If you have a vehicle registered in Connecticut that is more than four or less than 25 years old, you are required to submit it for a state emissions inspection every other year.
Delaware – You must pass the emission test to register or renew registration on your vehicle. The test you are given depends on the age of your car.
Florida – On July 1, 2000, the State of Florida abolished the auto emissions test requirement for all vehicles throughout the state after 9 years of testing.
Georgia – All gas-powered passenger cars and light trucks between 3 and 25 years old in 13 Georgia counties must pass an emission inspection before being issued license plates.
Hawaii – At this time there are no set emissions standards for vehicles in Hawaii. The state is on the frontlines of the electric vehicle movement and has many hybrids on the streets.
Idaho – Northern Ada County (home of Boise, the largest city in Idaho) is the only county in Idaho that requires the vehicles of its residents to go through an annual emissions test.
Illinois – Many vehicles registered in Illinois are required by the state to have their emissions checked every two years. A notice is sent to car owners when it is time to be checked.
Indiana – If you’re a resident of Clark, Floyd, Lake, or Porter counties, and your passenger vehicle is at least four years old, you will need to complete an emissions inspection every two years. If your vehicle was made before 1976, it doesn’t need tested.
Iowa – Iowa lacks the heavy population that creates smog problems, so there are no guidelines in place for vehicle emission checks.
Kansas – Kansas does not have emissions enforcement for motor vehicles.
Kentucky – While Kentucky did adopt a vehicle emissions testing program for three northern counties in 1999, the requirement ended in late 2005.
Louisiana – Louisiana vehicle inspections focus more on the mechanical parts of your vehicle; however, certain vehicle emission parts will be checked, too. The exception is for cars that are registered in Baton Rouge. These are required to be given On-Board Diagnostics as well.
Maine – If you drive a car/truck in Maine, your vehicle needs to pass a safety inspection annually. Vehicles registered in Cumberland County also need to pass an emissions inspection.
Maryland – The year of your vehicle determines what sort of testing it will undergo. Vehicles from the current two model years are exempt from the first round of testing.
Massachusetts – In Massachusetts, you have to get your motor vehicle inspected every year. And since 1999, Massachusetts vehicle owners have also been required to submit their vehicles to an enhanced emissions check.
Michigan – Michigan currently does not require automobile or truck emissions testing.
Minnesota – Minnesota’s vehicle emissions testing ended in 1999.
Mississippi – Mississippi does not require smog or emission checks on any vehicle registered within the state.
Missouri – According to Missouri law, emissions inspections are required for drivers who live in St. Louis City or one of the following counties: Jefferson, Franklin, St. Charles, and St. Louis.
Montana – Montana does not require smog or emission checks on any vehicle.
Nebraska – Nebraska does not have any official policy for vehicle testing.
Nevada – The urban areas located in Clark and Washoe counties are subject to strict emission testing requirements for most vehicles.
New Hampshire – To control emissions, the official licensed inspection stations are responsible for evaluating your vehicle’s engine emissions in accordance with your vehicle registration.
New Jersey – Motorists in New Jersey are required by the Motor Vehicle Commission to take their vehicles for an emissions inspection every two years.
New Mexico – Anyone who lives in the greater Albuquerque metropolitan area shall have their vehicle checked – or get an exemption – before registering it.
New York – New York requires all registered vehicles to have two kinds of inspections each year: a safety inspection and an emissions inspection. These are performed simultaneously at privately owned inspection stations licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
North Carolina – When you register your newer gasoline-powered vehicles in an emissions county, your vehicle will have to pass an On Board Diagnostics emissions test. This is in addition to the safety inspection that your vehicle must also pass.
North Dakota – North Dakota does not require emission checks.
Ohio – Currently, E-Check only affects residents of seven of the state’s 88 counties: Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, or Summit countiesâï¿½ï¿½and if you own a vehicleâï¿½ï¿½you will need to have its emission system checked before you renew your registration.
Oklahoma – Oklahoma is one of the few remaining states that does not require emissions checks for any motor vehicles.
Oregon – The Dept. of Environmental Quality operates seven Clean Air Stations in the Portland and Medford, or Rogue Valley areas. These areas only are subject to emissions testing.
Pennsylvania – This state requires a vehicle emission test once a year. So as to alert you when it’s your turn, the state will stamp on your vehicle’s renewal notice the words “Emissions Inspection Required/Diesel Vehicles Exempt.”
Rhode Island – Emission checks must done every two years at any state-certified inspection station. Emission tests are done jointly with the annual safety inspection.
South Carolina – South Carolina does not require any smog or emission inspections on vehicles. The state meets all federal clean air standards.
South Dakota – South Dakota is one of the few states that don’t require vehicle emissions testing of any kind.
Tennessee – Only gas or diesel-fueled vehicles weighing up to 10,500 pounds, registered in Davidson, Hamilton, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson counties, as well as those registered in Memphis, will be required to submit to emissions testing before they can be registered or have their registrations renewed.
Texas – All cars in Texas undergo an annual safety inspection. Where mandated, an emissions inspection is added to this process (major urban centers like Dallas and Houston).
Utah – Utahans in the densely populated Salt Lake, Davis, Utah, and Weber counties are required to take their cars in for mandatory emissions testing every two years.
Vermont – Vermont does not require drivers to submit to annual or semiannual emission tests.
Virginia – As with many states, Virginia requires most vehicles to be up-to-date on two separate types of tests: one for safety, and one for emissions.
Washington – Emissions testing is required for all other gasoline and diesel vehicles between five and 25 years old that are registered in the five most populated Washington counties.
Washington D.C. – In the District of Columbia, motorists are required to have their vehicles inspected before registration, and the inspection must be renewed every two years.
West Virginia – West Virginia does not currently require emission checks as a requirement for vehicle registration.
Wisconsin – Vehicles newer than 1968 registered in the most populated Southern Wisconsin counties must undergo emissions testing when it’s time for registration renewal.
Wyoming – Wyoming does not require smog or emission checks for any vehicles registered and titled in the state.