how to check if dmv received smog certificate

Learning how to check if DMV received smog certificate can save you a lot of hassle.

Getting a smog certificate is important.

Yet, depending on where you reside and your vehicle type, you may be excused from getting your smog certificate.

But if it is a requirement, it makes a lot of sense to learn how to check smog certificate.

In most cases, you can check if DMB received a smog certificate online, by phone, or even by mail.

Fact: A smog certificate is also known as a smog check or emissions test certificate.  

Understanding More about a Smog Certificate

Smog certificates are provided by the DMV and serve as proof that a vehicle meets the emissions requirements of the state in which it is registered.

understanding more about a smog certificate

An annual or biannual smog check is typically required to guarantee compliance with pollution regulations in many states.

The smog check examines the vehicle’s tailpipe for signs of excessive pollution. You receive a certificate if your vehicle passes the smog test.

For most vehicles, you cannot register or transfer ownership without this certificate. 

Importance of Receiving Smog Certificate

There are a number of reasons why getting a smog certificate is essential.

To begin with, it aids in public health protection by limiting the quantity of air pollution caused by automobiles on the road.

importance of receiving smog certificate

Not keeping the pollution in check can aggravate existing conditions, such as:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Breathing problems
  • Respiratory diseases

Moreover, air pollution is a major cause of global warming and climate change, which can be greatly reduced by keeping smog in check.

Similarly, the smog certificate is useful for car owners since it can uncover issues, like exhaust system leaks that would otherwise go unnoticed.

These issues can lead to increased maintenance expenses and decreased gas mileage.  

How to Check if DMV Received Smog Certificate or Not?

You need to bear in mind that not having an up-to-date smog certificate will result in a fine.

Here is more about how you can check if the DMV have received your smog certificate and you’re good to drive:

Check Online

checking online of dmv website

You can visit a DMV website and check everything online. Every state has a DMV portal and a local search will show which is closest to you.

However, the advantage of visiting online is that you won’t have to physically go.

All you have to do is log onto My DMV or register with an email and password. Then you can access your own DMV area anytime.

DMV websites vary slightly from state to state but are designed to be user-friendly, so it is just a matter of finding the correct page and filling in the details. 

What to Look For on the Website? 

what to look for on the website

You will need your vehicle information and the smog certificate number which is on the test center copy.

Once the certificate number is entered and if it was received, there will be PDF with the option to download a copy to your device.

This is a good opportunity to set up a yearly smog test reminder and refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), if you are unsure of the smog test requirements.

Fact: It is possible to study the details through My DMV and refer to it again in the future if you need to.   

Check By Phone

If you feel you need to talk to someone, there are DMV websites with virtual assistants for talking by text as well as traditional telephone lines.

The numbers are simple to look up online.

But along the way, expect to be offered the option to visit the DMV website and consult the FAQs where telephone numbers are listed under Contact Us anyway. 

What to Bear in Mind When Calling?

what to bear in mind when calling

The high volume of calls each DMV receives means calls are sorted electronically, so prepare for the ‘if…then press…’ prompts.

Do not panic if you do not catch the options the first time around because the list will repeat.

You may have to get sorted by going through a couple of menus but it means you connect to the best agent to help you.

At some point you will be asked for your vehicle registration number.

This might be once you have reached an agent or by AI just before so the agent has your details in front of them as they take your call.

Fact: When calling, the agent will always ask for your name, address, and perhaps one or two details about the car only to confirm your identity.   

Check By Mail

Although you can check if your smog certificate has arrived by mail, it takes time.

Still, the advantages are a real paper trail and receiving a hard copy.

You will find your state DMV’s postal address on their website’s Contact Us page.

check by mail

Perhaps using traditional mail is your option, but whatever the reason for writing, the DMV offices receive mountains of mail.

The DMV does not need the history of the car.

They do need your request to include your name and address, the vehicle’s registration information and the certificate number. 

An Important Consideration

There are faster ways to find out if your certificate was passed on by the smog test center than by writing the DMV a letter.

It could use almost all the ninety days the certificate is valid for, but you will get a response, depending on how busy the DMV office you sent it to is.

It could be in days or weeks.

Recorded mail is often the surest way to be sure a request is received and you have independent evidence of the fact particularly if you are expecting issues. 

Fact: If you want to check by mail and enjoy some peace of mind, send your request as a recorded letter so that someone at the DMV has to sign for it. 

Check In Person

During office hours, you can always visit a DMV office personally. You can find the address of a nearby office using the DMV website.

Local offices tend to close on the holidays, although there are some that have special holiday opening hours.

Some DMV offices use an online appointment system for the public to access their in-person services.

visiting a dmv offices personally

If they have, it will be on their website and it will be easy to use.

Once you meet the agent, you will be asked to provide details so they can pull your information from the DMV database.

This includes:

  • Your vehicle registration
  • Your name and address
  • The smog certificate number

The agent will be able to see straight away whether or not the certificate has arrived. 

An Important Consideration

If you are unfamiliar with them, ask the office to provide a printout to take away and study later.

In a smog test, all the emission control and exhaust systems are inspected, tested and checked.

The certificate is a report with technical information that is not always straightforward to take in.

Experienced drivers get to know the terminology and can cope with a brief verbal report, especially if the inspection is positive.

They use My DMV to download the certificate at home. 

What Should You Know about Follow-Up Actions?

what should you know about follow-up actions

Again, keep in mind that not having a valid smog inspection certificate can result in a fine.

Therefore, if your new certificate has not made it to the database within a couple of days of the test, there could be a problem.

And the most common is related to payment issues. 

Payment Issues

Computer issues are not unheard of but first check when your payment was processed.

With only ninety days to play with, the old certificate might have expired before your renewal payment was recorded by the DMV.

Issuing a fine could be progress.

Renewal payments need at least two weeks before the end valid date to clear.  

What Should You Do?

The safest thing is to reschedule a smog test. If you want to keep driving without the risk of a fine you don’t have a lot of time.

It’s an expense and hassle, but you can cancel if the certificate turns up and whatever happens you’ll have time to address any issues before the last one expires. 

scheduling smog test at dmv offices

Whenever you deal with the DMV you will need your vehicle’s registration.

However, you may also be asked for other documents if your vehicle is classed as exempt.

These include:

  • Emergency vehicles.
  • Vehicles involved in national security.
  • An off-road vehicle under transport.
  • Vehicles with a titled owner living out of state.
  • Those recently inherited.


Learning how to check if DMV received smog certificate or not is crucial because it saves you from dealing with any fine.

Remember, not all states require a smog certificate, so you need to confirm it first.

And if it is truly needed, be sure to check online and, if possible, visit DMV in person to see if they have received your certificate or not.