Car Inspection in Washington

SUMMARY: Washington Vehicle Emissions

The Washington Vehicle Emissions Check Program requires vehicle emissions testing for most vehicles within specified testing areas. Both current and new residents must meet these requirements for vehicle registration and registration renewal processes. Certain vehicles are exempt from testing, and you can obtain a temporary permit to get your vehicle tested if your current tabs are expired. Requirements for failed emission tests are based on your location.

Keep reading for information about required emissions tests, state-approved testing locations, emissions testing fees, and more.

New Washington Residents

You have 30 days to register your vehicle upon moving to Washington, and your vehicle must pass an emissions inspection before you can register it.

See Inspection Requirements and Exemptions and Completing a Vehicle Inspection below for information about vehicles that require testing, how often you must have your vehicle tested, and applicable fees.

Car Inspection Requirements in WA

California Emissions Standards in WA

According to Washington's Clean Car Law, vehicles with a 2009 model year or newer being bought, sold, registered, titled and operated in the state must be certified to California emissions standards.

Vehicles that fall under this requirement include:

  • All new passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs with a model year of 2009 or newer.
  • Used cars that:
    • Are model year 2009 or newer.
    • Have less than 7,500 miles.
    • Are newly owned by a Washington resident.

If your vehicle meets this model year, it was manufactured to meet CA emissions standards, and therefore should already be compliant under Washington law (see "Exemptions" below). Otherwise, you'll need to have your vehicle tested (see "Requirements" below).

Confirm that your car meets California emissions status by checking the Vehicle Emissions Control Information located in your car's engine compartment. If the label says that your car is certified under any of the following, your car is compliant with Washington law:

  • CARB certified (California Emissions Standard)
  • 50-state certified (sale in all 50 states).
  • Sale in northeast.

Inspection Requirements

You must complete a Washington emissions inspection on your vehicle prior to registering it for the first time, or renewing your registration).

Emissions tests are required every 2 years. Your renewal notice will indicate whether your vehicle is up for inspection.

All vehicles registered in the following counties* that aren't exempt (see “Inspection Exemptions" below) must undergo vehicle emissions testing:

  • Clark
  • King
  • Pierce
  • Snohomish
  • Spokane

* Some ZIP codes are exempt from emissions checks. Refer to the state's Emission Check Area ZIP Codes list for clarification.

Military Personnel

If you meet any of the qualifications below, your vehicle must undergo emissions testing per federal law:

  • You operate the vehicle on your military base.
  • You live or are stationed within an emissions testing area (see above).
  • You live and/or drive in Washington 60 days or more annually.

Please direct further questions to your military base.

Inspection Exemptions

The following vehicles are exempt from emissions testing in Washington state:

  • Various eco-friendly vehicles*, including:
    • Hybrid vehicles (i.e. Honda Insight, Toyota Prius).
    • Vehicles powered only by:
      • Electricity.
      • Propane.
      • Compressed natural gas.
      • Liquid petroleum.
    • Diesel vehicles:
      • Weighing under 6,001 lbs.
      • Model year 2007 or newer.
  • Vehicles model year 2009 and newer.
  • Vehicles over 25 years old.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Motor-driven cycles.
  • Street rods.
  • Farm vehicles.
  • Washington dealer-sold vehicles.
  • Collectible vehicles.

* See “Washington Incentives for Eco-Friendly Driving" below for more details.

Vehicles Out of State or Area


If you're currently out of an emissions testing area, you can apply for a temporary exemption. Complete and submit the Out-of-Area Emission Test Application (Form ECY 020-09) and mail it to the address listed on your registration renewal notice.


If you know you're going out of state for an extended period of time, it's your responsibility to bring your vehicle in for an emissions test beforehand. You can bring your vehicle for testing up to 1 year before your registration renewal.

Completing a WA Vehicle Inspection

You can choose from among several Washington emissions testing centers. Visit either an Applus Testing Station or other Authorized Test Facility with the applicable fee*:

  • Applus Testing Station: $15.
  • Authorized Test Facilities: Call ahead.

* If you're paying by check, you must bring your photo identification and the information must match the printed name and address on your check.

In addition to providing you with documentation stating your vehicle passed or failed, these Washington emissions testing stations send your results electronically. Generally, records show up within 2 hours and you can renew your registration.

Temporary Permits for Expired Tabs

Temporary permits allow you to drive from your home to a test station and then to a vehicle licensing office if your tabs expire before your vehicle undergoes an emissions test.

You can apply for a transit permit that allows you to drive for 3 days (consecutive only).

Permits are available at any Washington vehicle licensing office.

Failed Vehicle Inspections

Handling failed emissions testing in Washington depends on where the initial test took place:

  • Applus Testing Station:
    • Your vehicle gets 1 retest for free within 1 year of the initial test, as long as the original test took place at an Applus Testing Station.
      • If your vehicle was originally tested at a different testing facility, the fee will be $15.
    • You can apply for a waiver* if:
      • Your vehicle was repaired by an Ecology Authorized Emission Specialist (AES) and failed again.
      • You can provide itemized proof that you spent at least $150 on repairs and the vehicle still failed.
      • There's no evidence the emissions control equipment is missing or has been tampered with.
  • Authorized Test Facility:
    • Each Authorized Test Facility sets its own retesting timeframes and fees. Ask the technician for information after your test fails.

* When your vehicle fails, you'll receive a brochure with retesting and waiver information.


ECY 020-09
Application for Out of Area Temporary Exemption From Emission Testing
Submit to the DOL to request an extension for your vehicle emissions test if your car isn't currently in an emissions test area.
Collectible Vehicle Certification for Emission Test Exemption
Certify that your car is a collectible vehicle AND is therefore exempt from the Washington DOL’s emission testing requirements.