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How Do You Register a Japanese Import Car in California

Sean Morris Posted on June 27, 2020

Nissan Skyline GT-R in California

How do you register a JDM, or Japanese domestic car in California?  At Toprank Importers, we have been working in the car business, and the vehicle import and export business for more than thirty years. We understand what all it takes to legally import JDM cars to the US, and title/register them in California.  Since California has the unique opportunity to set its own emissions controls and regulations, California compliance for Japanese domestic market, or grey market cars is much more difficult than the rest of the 49 states. 

While there are other Japanese vehicle importers that say they can get you a California title, very few have actually done the entire process.  We can sell you a classic vehicle that is over 25 years old, then do full California compliance work, and registration. All you have to do is pay, sign, and pick up the your dream car when it is complete.  

California legal Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

California actually calls some grey market cars, direct import vehicles.  A direct import car is a vehicle that is 1975 or newer, that has to be brought into compliance, prior to it being registered in California.  This is not smog testing, this is emissions compliance done at a California certified emissions testing lab.  Currently there is only one California certified, direct import licensed, emissions testing lab in the world.   After the direct import car is tested at the lab, it then goes to a California smog referee, where they inspect and test the vehicle.  Once the referee is satisified, they affix a California BAR label to the vehicle, and it can then be titled and registered in California. 

Smog Check Report Nissan Skyline GT-R California

Then once a vehicle is brought into California compliance at the emissions lab, it is smogged like a normal car in California every two years.   Any questions about California compliance, vehicle importation, purchasing Japanese vehicles at auction, buying and storing vehicles in Japan, please give us a call or email. 

sales@importavehicle.com or 844-523-2233






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