Grey Market Vehicle Inspections

Imported vehicles originally intended by their manufacturers for sale outside the United States are identified as “grey market” vehicles. Grey market vehicles rarely meet California or United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) emissions standards when initially imported into the country. In addition, these vehicles have different vehicle inspection number (VIN) configurations and foreign or missing emission and/or safety manufacturer labels.

The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the USEPA set requirements for grey market vehicles. To be registered in California, grey market vehicles generally must meet the emission standards for the same model year vehicles sold in the United States. Requirements vary by model year and may include major modifications, a certificate of conformance from a California Air Resources Board (CARB) authorized laboratory, a BAR Referee label, and a Smog Check certificate.

Before inspecting a grey market vehicle, the Smog Check inspector must verify during the visual inspection the vehicle has an emissions label from the BAR Referee. The BAR Referee label identifies the vehicle’s certification type and emission control requirements. It is typically affixed to the driver’s side door post or may be located under the hood. When prompted by the inspection system, the inspector must enter “R” for the vehicle’s certification type and inspect the vehicle using the emission control requirements listed on the BAR Referee label. For complete inspection procedures and requirements, refer to the Smog Check Manual.

Consumers requesting an inspection of a grey market vehicle without a BAR Referee label should be referred to the BAR Referee at (800) 622-7733 to schedule an appointment. Additional information concerning registration requirements for grey market vehicles is available by contacting CARB at or visiting

Printable Version