WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Mailbag: Importing a Motorcycle into California

By James - 4/12/2006

Trevor wrote in about moving to Californa and bringing his motorcycle. . .

Thought maybe you guys could help me. I live in WV and ride a 93 seca II (xj600s). It is the non-california version. Problem is, I am movin to California this october. Can I get this bike registered ther? I read that motorcycles are smog exempt but I am a little nervous because there is a Specific california model of my bike. I would greatly appriciate any help, advice or ideas on who to ask next.


First I want to say welcome to California and if you are ever in the Bay Area, I would like to ride with you.

I have been scouring the net looking for info and was astonished to find that the DMV website was a help. On the California Department of Motor Vehicles website it states:

Aren’t All Vehicles California Certified?

Not all new vehicles are manufactured to be sold to California residents or businesses. Many manufacturers make vehicles to be sold in the other 49 states. These vehicles (49-State) are made with smog equipment that meets federal emission standards, but not California standards. 50-State or California certified vehicles are made to be sold to California residents.

What Is Considered a New Vehicle?

California law considers any vehicle with less than 7,500 miles on the odometer when acquired by a California resident or business to be a new vehicle. This holds true whether or not the vehicle has been registered in another state. If you acquire a new vehicle from another state, you may not subsequently drive it to accumulate over 7,500 miles to circumvent the law. DMV cannot accept an application to register the vehicle, and you cannot register or operate the vehicle in California.

Further down the page it says:

Does This Apply to Someone Moving to California?

If you are moving to California from another state, you may register a new federally certified vehicle in California if it was first registered by you in your home state, or for military personnel, in your last state of military service. When applying for vehicle registration in California, you must provide evidence of your vehicle’s previous registration and that you were a resident of the other state when you acquired the vehicle.

On the Smog Information page it says:

Does my vehicle qualify for a smog exemption?

Smog inspections are required unless your vehicle is:

  • Hybrid
  • 1975 year model or older
  • Diesel powered
  • Electric
  • Natural gas powered and has a Gross Vehicle Weight rating of 14,001 lbs. or more.
  • Motorcycle
  • Trailer

So it looks like you are good to go for two reasons, if you registered it in West Virginia and can prove you lived there, you can bring it to California, which is good for your car but you don’t need to get smog checks for motorcycles.

See you on the roads Trevor.



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