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  • Smog Check and Car Inspection in Washington DC

    Introduction

    Motor vehicle inspections are important when registering your vehicle for the first time or renewing your registration with the Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

    • Emissions inspections are required for all vehicles within the District of Columbia.
    • Safety inspections are required only for commercial and for-hire vehicles.

    New to Washington, D.C.?

    New residents have 30 days to register their vehicles after they move to Washington, D.C. An emissions inspection (and safety inspection, if applicable) must be completed prior to registering your vehicle. You should also note:

    • You may be required to show proof of residency if the vehicle is not already registered in Washington D.C. (lease/mortgage, utility bills, etc.).
    • Vehicles may be charged a $20 late fee for every 30-day period that the inspection is not completed (see

    D.C. Vehicle Inspection Requirements & Exemptions

    The inspection you require depends on the type of vehicle you own. Be sure to complete your D.C. DMV inspection BEFORE your sticker expires; otherwise, you may be subject to late fees.

    Emissions Inspections

    All vehicle types are required to get smog and emissions inspections. Reasons for inspections include:

    • You are new to DC and want to register your car with the Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles for the first time (must be completed within 30 days).
    • You purchased a used car that has an expired D.C. inspection sticker (or no sticker).
    • Your D.C. inspection sticker is about to expire (renewal notices are sent 60 days prior to expiration):
      • Private passenger/not-for-hire vehicles must be inspected every 2 years.
      • Commercial vehicles must be inspected every year.
      • For-hire vehicles (e.g. limousines and taxicabs) must be inspected every 6 months.

    Safety Inspections

    Only commercial vehicles and for-hire vehicles are required to get safety inspections.

    • Commercial vehicles must be inspected every year.
    • For-hire vehicles (taxis, limousines, etc.) get inspected every 6 months.

    Email Reminders

    E-mail reminders are sent out 60 days before the sticker expiration. You may sign up to receive an e-mail reminder from the Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles when your inspection sticker is about to expire by providing:

    • Driver's license number.
    • Social Security number.
    • First and last name.
    • Date of birth.
    • E-mail address.

    The DMV's inspection renewal page provides a link through which to supply your e-mail address to receive your inspection reminder.

    D.C. Emissions Inspection Exemptions

    The only vehicles that are exempt from emissions inspections are privately-owned passenger vehicles that have been:

    • Manufactured before 1968.
    • Designated as a zero emissions vehicle.

    While new vehicles generally do not need smog and emissions inspections, they are not exempt, and you can be ordered to get the vehicle inspected by law enforcement or department of motor vehicle officials.

    When you purchase a new vehicle for private use only, the vehicle will receive an inspection sticker that is good for 4 years.The vehicle will not require an inspection unless otherwise ordered by law enforcement or DMV official.

    Washington, D.C. Vehicle Inspection Fees

    The DMV Inspection fees (including late fees) are calculated as part of your registration fees. The fees include up to 2 free re-inspections if your vehicle fails. Free re-inspections must be completed within 20 days after the initial test. After that, you must pay the inspection fee again.

    • New vehicle inspection sticker only: $10.
    • Private passenger inspection: $35.
    • For-hire vehicle inspection: $35.
    • Commercial vehicle inspection: $35.
    • Re-inspection fee: $35 (if done AFTER 20 days).
    • Replacement inspection sticker: $10.

    Late Fees

    Failing to complete your vehicle inspection when required will result in a $20 late fee for every 30-day period you fail to complete your inspection. Late fees will accumulate each month, but are capped at $480.

    D.C. Vehicle Inspection Stations

    All vehicle inspections are conducted at the D.C. DMV's central testing center:

    Vehicle Inspection Station
    1001 Half Street, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20024

    The station is open Tuesday to Saturday, and has designated hours for its winter and summer seasons. Inspection times are:

    • Winter hours (September-June): 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Summer hours (June-September): 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    The times when you may appear during either winter or summer hours vary depending on the type of vehicle you own:

    Private Passenger Vehicles:

    • Winter hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Summer hours: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Commercial Vehicles:

    • Winter hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m..
    • Summer hours: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    For-Hire Vehicles:

    • Winter hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Summer hours: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Inspections are done on a first come, first serve basis, unless you schedule an appointment. Senior citizens may drive straight to the inspection lane.

    Out-of-District Vehicle Inspections

    If you are at least 75 miles outside of D.C. and unable to return before your sticker expires, you must complete an out-of-district inspection. The emissions standards under which you have your vehicle tested while away must match those of D.C. law.

    Contact the D.C. DMV if you have any questions.

    To complete your out-of-district inspection:

    • Take your vehicle to an automobile dealership or certified repair service center and ask for an emissions test.
      • If the jurisdiction does not offer emissions testing, get an On Board Diagnostic (OBD) test.
    • Have the results of your test printed on a work order with the letterhead of the dealer or service center you took your vehicle, which includes the following information about your vehicle:
      • Vehicle identification number (VIN).
      • Tag number.
      • Year.
      • Model.
      • Make.
      • Current mileage.
    • Send the work order with a return address to the D.C. DMV either by:
      • Fax: (202) 729-7186 (include

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