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Frequently Asked Questions

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Replica motorcycles are new vehicles that duplicate the look or technology of vintage motorcycles. They are legal for registration as long as their manufacturer has certified them to meet the requirements of their model year of sale. This means that a motorcycle that resembles a 1955 model, but is sold in 2019 must meet 2019 or newer new motorcycle emission standards. You can determine compliance with emission standards by checking its "Vehicle Emission Control Information" label located on a clearly visible portion of its frame. You can also verify the accuracy of this information by comparing it to certification documentation on ARBs website.

Please note that all new motorcycles must also comply with all applicable US Department of Transportation regulations in order to be legal for registration. In addition, compliance by the manufacturers of these vehicles with California emission standards does not eliminate any design, intellectual property, or trademark rights of the original manufacturer, or prevent them from taking actions to enforce or protect these rights.

All manufactured vehicles, even partially assembled ones must meet emission standards for their model year.
California and USEPA emissions labeling is required on all motorcycles starting in the 2006 model year.
California and USEPA emissions labeling is required on all motorcycles greater than 50cc since 1980.
Safety labeling is required on all on-road motorcycles for California.

California law allows the limited use of used engines from vehicles first sold in Japan when the engine is used strictly as a "replacement part". In order to qualify as a replacement part, an engine from a vehicle first sold in Japan must:

  • Be functionally identical to the original vehicle engine
  • Be clearly identified as identical to the specific application* it is sold for. Listing must be in a public accessible website or printed catalog published by the importer or distributor
  • Allow the installation of any California-specific emission control equipment
  • Not included any components or modifications that are not part of the original California Certified vehicle
  • Not cause any OBD system failure, cause the Check Engine indicator to light, or prevent the system from operating (OBD readiness check)

* Application is specific vehicle year, make, model, engine size and Engine Family Number or Test Group

Important Notes

Non-USA engines, including engines originally sold in Japan CANNOT be used perform any engine change.

Use of Non-USA engines not meeting the requirements for "Replacement Parts" are subject to laboratory testing requirements for direct import vehicles. This process typically exceeds the value of most vehicles.

Distributors or importers of non-USA specification engines must verify any questions of legality prior to retail sale in California. Distributors are fully responsible for any engines sold that are later determined not to be Identical replacement parts.

California law generally requires all new vehicles to have labeling indicating compliance with required emission standards. Fully electric-drive motorcycles are not subject to California emissions standards and will often not have labeling indicating compliance with California requirements, however most fully electric-driven motorcycles do require Federal emission labeling in order to be registered. Please refer to the following information before purchasing any fully electric motorcycle:

Electric motorcycle registration information

Vehicles sold new by California licensed new motor vehicle dealers will be properly registered and reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as "fully electric drive motorcycles". No further action to register the vehicle is required.

New electric-drive motorcycles sold online, out-of-state, or by businesses not licensed as new motor vehicle dealers, will require a "verification" inspection by the DMV prior to registration. At this inspection, the DMV Verifyier will ensure that the vehicle meets all requirements to be considered a motorcycle and that it is fully electric powered.No fuel or fuel fired accessories are permitted.

If it is a motorcycle design or specification that requires Federal emissions labeling, the DMV will also verify compliance with this regulation.  If the vehicle is missing required labeling, please contact the vehicle manufacturer for assistance.

In all cases, do not purchase any electric powered motorcycle without first checking its compliance status with the vehicle manufacturer.

More Information

Neighborhood electric vehicles are smaller, lighter, and far less featured four-wheeled vehicles. Since they are powered by 100% battery supplied electricity, they are classified as zero-emissions vehicles. These neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) are certified to a special US DOT low-speed vehicle safety standard. This standard allows significantly reduced safety features, crash testing, and equipment. Because of this, these vehicles are only allowed to be used on roads with posted speed limits of 35 MPH or less. Use of these vehicles on any road or freeway with posted speed limits above 35 MPH can result in a citation, regardless of the speed at which traffic may actually be operating.

Please note that due to the restrictions of the safety standards, NEV's cannot be issued any California HOV lane access decals.

The California Smog Check program is administered by the Bureau of Automotive Repairs (BAR).

BAR Consumer Information Center

General questions, complaint information, station and repair facility license verification
(800) 952-5210


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