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Q

I go to college in California but my car is registered in Texas. Can I get a California state inspection even though my registration is in TX?


A

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) states that generally, states honor the laws of other states, and there are even reciprocal agreements, where this state honors other states laws as their own regarding inspection stickers. For example, if a vehicle is registered in Texas and is in another state that requires vehicles to be inspected, then that other state will honor your inspection sticker.

So if your Texas inspection sticker is about to expire, the TX DPS states you should obey the inspection laws of the state in which you are in. You may obtain an inspection sticker by presenting your vehicle for inspection at a local inspection station. The DPS notes that depending on the state you are in, your vehicle may not have to be registered in that state to get inspected. If your vehicle does not have a valid inspection sticker, you are not immune to the laws of that state. If you do get an out of state inspection sticker upon returning to Texas you will need to have your vehicle inspected within 3 days, unless you have an inspection sticker from one of the states with which TX has reciprocity with.

Texas-registered vehicles may operate in Texas on a valid inspection certificate from the District of Columbia or any of the following states provided the certificate was obtained while the owner of the vehicle resided in the other jurisdiction. So Texas has inspection reciprocity with the following states: Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia plus the District of Columbia. As you can see California is not mentioned so Texas and California do not have reciprocity with regard to inspection certification and thus when you return to TX you would need to have your vehicle inspected by a Texas inspection station within 3 days.

A valid certificate of inspection issued in the District of Columbia or in another state of the United States having an inspection law similar to that of the State of Texas is acceptable on a Texas-registered vehicle provided the inspection certificate was obtained while the owner or operator of the vehicle was residing in the other jurisdiction and the vehicle was regularly assigned, garaged, or stationed outside of the State of Texas. This acceptance does not extend to owners and operators who have resided continuously in Texas. There is an exception to this Texas laws. New vehicles which are purchased in a state having an inspection law similar to that of the State of Texas which were inspected and issued an inspection certificate before registration are acceptable in Texas until the expiration date of the certificate.

The Department of Public Safety extends the time within which a certificate of inspection shall be obtained by a resident owner or operator of a Texas-registered vehicle, when the vehicle has no valid inspection certificate. The extension will be granted only on the first occasion of operation in this state during an inspection year and only until the resident owner or operator of the vehicle has arrived at his home, station, or destination in this state and for three days thereafter.

So you will need to check with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to find out if you need to have your car inspected or "smogged" in order to comply with CA state laws since your Texas inspection is going to expire. To the best of our knowledge only those cars registered in California must get their cars inspected however check with the CA DMV to find out for certain about your particular situation. Even if you do get the car inspected in California remember that because this is not a reciprocal state that when you return to Texas you will need to get a Texas inspection and valid sticker within 3 days of returning to the state of Texas.

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2 Responses to "I go to college in California but my car is registered in Texas. Can I get a California state inspection even though my registration is in TX?"
  1. Visitor

    I have a similar situation. Thanks for the clear explanation.

      Reply»  
  2. Anonymous

    This was helpful as we have an identical situation--Texas resident in school in California. Thank you.

      Reply»