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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anybody know if a Canada market car can be registered in California? Is it CARB compliant and will it pass SMOG?

the car in question was bought new in February of 2020 in Vancouver, BC and was properly imported and Federalized in December of 2020. It’s spent the rest of its life in Washington state and hasn’t ever been registered anywhere else in the US outside of Washington state.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I shouldn’t think so either, everything I read seems to indicate the Canadian e39 M5 is identical to the US spec in every way except for the odometer/speedometer. However, California CARB rules are extremely strict.

Are there any Canadian board members here with. 2000 M5 who can just have a look under the hood at the emissions sticker and verify if it says “50 state compliant
 

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I shouldn’t think so either, everything I read seems to indicate the Canadian e39 M5 is identical to the US spec in every way except for the odometer/speedometer. However, California CARB rules are extremely strict.

Are there any Canadian board members here with. 2000 M5 who can just have a look under the hood at the emissions sticker and verify if it says “50 state compliant

That's what the sticker looks like. If the car you're looking at doesn't have one for whatever reason, this is also your solution
 

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I imported a Canadian registered 2006 Porsche 997 into the US (California) last year. There is a few more reequirements before you can register the car in California, you will need to file an application with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) and pay them whatever import tax you owe them to bring the car into the US. In the process of doing this, the USCBP will require a letter from the manufacturer (Porsche of NA) to "certify" the vehicle complied with U.S. EPA emissions and DOT Safety Regulations in effect at the time of manufacture. The letter also needs to state there are no open recalls on the vehicle. After you paid USCBP, bring the receipt to DMV and then they will schedule your car for a smog test and an inspection. If you managed to pass these last two steps, you can then register the vehicle in California (US).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I imported a Canadian registered 2006 Porsche 997 into the US (California) last year. There is a few more reequirements before you can register the car in California, you will need to file an application with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) and pay them whatever import tax you owe them to bring the car into the US. In the process of doing this, the USCBP will require a letter from the manufacturer (Porsche of NA) to "certify" the vehicle complied with U.S. EPA emissions and DOT Safety Regulations in effect at the time of manufacture. The letter also needs to state there are no open recalls on the vehicle. After you paid USCBP, bring the receipt to DMV and then they will schedule your car for a smog test and an inspection. If you managed to pass these last two steps, you can then register the vehicle in California (US).
Thanks Garry! I suspect that some of this wouldn't apply to the vehicle I'm looking at since it was already imported and registered in Washington state. I can see on the vehicle history report that the US Dept of Transportation
said 'Vehicle declared to meet US highway safety specifications' and title status changed to 'Bond released'. So, I'm hoping that all I need is that Emissions sticker to verify the car is 50 state compliant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The emissions sticker under the hood? You can literally just buy it?
Ya, I first wanted to see it to ensure it was 50 state compliant because not all Canadian cars are, some are only 49 state compliant and I really don’t know if an e39 M5 is.

But, now I’m concerned because why is the sticker missing? Seller said car had a minor front end fender bender. But, I’m worried the hood seems to have been replaced since the sticker is missing. I’d rather not get involved with a car that’s had an accident. There are better examples available at the asking price.
 

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This is not difficult. You contact BMWNA customer service, either by phone or email. Ask for a compliance letter showing your car meets USA DOT/EPA specs including California. They will request the VIN and a ownership sale document and/or registration and send you a letter, usually within 48 hours, (though they say it can take up to two weeks). I've imported a couple Canadian market BMWs into the USA. You need this letter to bring the car into the USA, as US Customs will require it. The original importer probably threw the document away, as it is usually never asked for again, after your initial registration at the local DMV. So you show the letter to US Customs, then the DMV, and then it is (usually) never needed again. I always save everything, just the same. :)

E39 M5 should be compliant. I imported a 2001 540 M-Sport, it was easy.
 

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That's what the sticker looks like. If the car you're looking at doesn't have one for whatever reason, this is also your solution
That sticker is usually meaningless to an inspector. Especially when you have a VIN showing a Canadian market car. What is required is a letter from BMW stating the car meets USA DOT/EPA (and in this case California emissions) requirements. This letter can be obtained from BMWNA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hey 430 Scuderia, thanks for the info! Have you imported cars directly to California? I wasn’t as worried about registering non-us cars when living in other states, but CA regulations are absurdly rigid.

I actually found another M5 in Canada and am still trying to decide if it’s worth it.
 

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Hey 430 Scuderia, thanks for the info! Have you imported cars directly to California? I wasn’t as worried about registering non-us cars when living in other states, but CA regulations are absurdly rigid.

I actually found another M5 in Canada and am still trying to decide if it’s worth it.
I have not. If you have the letter from BMWNA, I don't see how CA DMV could prevent registration, because the letter states the car meets all USA specifications and lists your VIN, name and address on the letter. My last letter for a M550iX specifies "Including California" in meeting all EPA/DOT requirements. If you get a letter from BMWNA for an E39 it should have the same statement. I don't have mine handy, its in a 8 inch file in a closet now, as I only keep the last five years of records on my E39 540 M-Sport available in my desk. (330,000 miles this week :) )
 

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Note, to bring an older BMW into the USA, including an E39, will require replacing the dash cluster. I had to do that on my 2001 540 M-Sport when imported in 2003, and I had to show the paperwork for the cluster change and US Customs inspected the gauge cluster at entry. Cost me $1100 back then, at The BMW Store in Vancouver, BC. The issue is not the odometer, but being able to read your speed in MPH. The Canadian gauge cluster only reads KPH (if it had MPH in lower case you would be fine). On my 2018 M550iX I simply made the change in Idrive, no modification required.

There are "registered importers" that can handle the changes and paperwork for you, but it is expensive, and why I did both of my imports myself.
 

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That sticker is usually meaningless to an inspector. Especially when you have a VIN showing a Canadian market car. What is required is a letter from BMW stating the car meets USA DOT/EPA (and in this case California emissions) requirements. This letter can be obtained from BMWNA.
As I mentioned in my earlier reply, my experience importing a Canadian registered 2006 Porsche into California was a bit different. At the California DMV for an inspection, they didn't care about a letter from the manufacturer and never asked for it. They did require to see the receipt from U.S. Customs and Border Protection with a stamp that you have imported the car legally and paid the import tax. Once they have that, they will schedule and inspection and tell you to get a smog test. During the inspection, the inspector verified the VIN and then looked carefully for the emission sticker under the engine cover that said both US Federal and California Emission Certified plus they also checked the speedometer can displace in mph and then you are officially done registergin your car in California. The plates will arrive a month or two later.
 

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As I mentioned in my earlier reply, my experience importing a Canadian registered 2006 Porsche into California was a bit different. At the California DMV for an inspection, they didn't care about a letter from the manufacturer and never asked for it. They did require to see the receipt from U.S. Customs and Border Protection with a stamp that you have imported the car legally and paid the import tax. Once they have that, they will schedule and inspection and tell you to get a smog test. During the inspection, the inspector verified the VIN and then looked carefully for the emission sticker under the engine cover that said both US Federal and California Emission Certified plus they also checked the speedometer can displace in mph and then you are officially done registergin your car in California. The plates will arrive a month or two later.
CA DMV may not want the letter, but you will never get the car into the USA without it. US Customs requires it. A 2001 E39 will have neither a US Federal or California emission sticker anywhere (my 2001 540 M-Sport does not). It will have a Canadian Transport sticker with VIN and a maple leaf on it, in the door jam, next to the tire pressure sticker. So the letter from BMWNA will be your only evidence of compliance with Federal and State emission requirements.
 
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