Clean Car emission requirements: Vehicle and vessel dealers

Required emission standards

Starting with 2009 models, new and used passenger cars, light duty trucks, and medium duty passenger vehicles must be certified to California emission standards. Vehicles must be certified to at least one of the following emission standards to be registered, leased, rented, licensed, or sold for use in Washington:

  • California emission standards (CARB certified).
  • Sale in all 50 states (50 state certified).
  • For sale in the northeast.

Vehicles that are “federally certified” or “certified to meet EPA standards” aren’t certified to California emission standards and don’t meet Washington State requirements.

Types of vehicles that must meet Clean Car standards

  • All new passenger cars, SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks with a model year of 2009 or newer must be certified to California emission standards. New vehicles that don’t meet California emission standards cannot be registered, leased, rented, licensed, or sold for use in Washington.
  • Used vehicles must be certified to California emission standards if:
    • The vehicle is a 2009 or newer model.
    • The vehicle has less than 7,500 miles on the odometer.
    • The new owner is a Washington resident.
    • The vehicle isn’t exempt (see below).

Exempt vehicles

The following types of vehicles aren’t required to be certified to California emission standards:

  • 2008 or earlier vehicle models.
  • Passenger vans and buses with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)greater than 10,000.
  • Heavy-duty cargo vans and trucks with a GVWR greater than 8,500.
  • Previously-registered vehicles with more than 7,500 miles on them at the time of sale.
  • Vehicles purchased by a nonresident before establishing residency in the state of Washington, regardless of the mileage on the vehicle.
  • Vehicles transferred by inheritance or as a result of divorce, dissolution, or legal separation.
  • Vehicles acquired and used by Washington residents while they were members of the armed services stationed outside of Washington on military orders.
  • Vehicles to be registered and used only outside the state of Washington.
  • Vehicles only available for rent to a final destination outside of Washington.
  • Military tactical vehicles.
  • Emergency vehicles, if the public safety agency has demonstrated to the Department of Ecology’s satisfaction that there isn’t a California emissions-certified vehicle available to meet the agency’s needs.

How to get certified vehicles for your inventory

Ordering from suppliers

Inventory ordering differs depending on the source. Your supplier (most likely the automaker) should be able to tell you how to properly order new vehicles that meet Clean Car emission standards when you place orders for 2009 model year or later inventory.

Vehicles from auctions and third parties

When you acquire used vehicles that will be registered, leased, rented, licensed, or sold in Washington, make sure the vehicle has the required certification:

If the model year is… And the vehicle has… California certification required?
2009 or later Less than 7,500 miles on the odometer. Yes, whether the car has been previously registered or not.
Never been previously registered. Yes, no matter what the mileage is on the odometer.
7,500 miles or more on the odometer and has been previously registered. No
2008 or before Any mileage amount, regardless of whether or not it has been previously registered. No

How to check if a vehicle is certified

When you receive a delivery, there are 2 ways to check if a vehicle is certified to California emission standards:

  • Look at the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) or Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO). The document should contain language near the top or bottom left corner stating the vehicle is certified to California emission standards or meets emissions standards for all 50 states. If the MCO/MSO states the vehicle is “federally certified” or certified to “49-State,” “federal” or “Tier II” standards alone, the vehicle isn’t certified to California emission standards. If there is no emission certification language on the MCO/MSO, you will need to confirm certification another way.
  • Look at the Vehicle Emissions Control Information (VECI) label on the vehicle’s engine compartment. If the label states the vehicle’s emissions systems comply with California emissions requirements or requirements for all 50 states, the vehicle is certified to California emission standards. If the label states the vehicle is “49-State,” “federally certified,” or certified to “federal” or “Tier II” standards alone, the vehicle isn’t certified to California emission standards. VECI label formats can vary, but must indicate to what emissions standard the vehicle is certified.

Related rules

See also:

Washington Healthcare Finder
Access Washington