If you own a vehicle in China, eventually you will need to take it to receive an inspection. If you purchase a new vehicle, most of the time you are not required to get an inspection until year six. However, different styles and sizes of vehicles have different requirements. I currently own a van that is 8 years old. Starting at year six, the van is required to be inspected yearly. This post provides a general overview of how the vehicle inspection works and what documents are needed.

Do I need an inspection?

Your first question may be, “How do I know if I need an inspection?” This is easy to check. On the front windshield of your vehicle you should have at least 2 stickers – one for insurance and one for the inspection. The inspection sticker will have these characters on it – 检查. It will also have a year. The sticker expires during the year on the sticker. If you look on back of sticker, you will see what month the sticker expires so that you know when to get the new inspection.

Where do I get the inspection?

Every city in China is different. When I lived in Xining, the locations were limited and getting the inspection was an all day affair. Yinchuan though is different. In Yinchuan each district has at least one inspection location. Some have more than one. It is possible to complete the whole process in 2 hours or less.

The best way to find a location on the map is to search for Vehicles Monitoring Station (机动车检测站). Several locations will come up one Apple Maps or Baidu Maps. Not every location shows up on the maps. One of the largest locations is called Motor Vehicle Management Office (车管所). However, there are multiple management offices. Only a few of them also inspect vehicles.

What documents are required to get the inspection?

I recommend calling before you go to confirm what is required. Requirements may change, and it is very likely that each province is slightly different. In Yinchuan, only three items are required:

  1. The vehicle license – I refer to this as the little blue book as the license is in a small blue case.
  2. Proof of Insurance – When you purchase insurance on your car, the insurance company will give you two copies of your proof of insurance. You will give one original copy to Vehicle Inspection Office.
  3. Reflective triangle – Each car in Ningxia is required to have a reflective triangle in the vehicle to be used if there is an accident.

What is the inspection process?

  1. Pull vehicle up in line by other vehicles waiting for inspection.

    China vehicle inspection bay

    Line up for inspection

  2. Prepare to give your vehicle license (blue book) to the inspector.
  3. Put your reflective triangle together and sit it on the windshield.
  4. Inspector will check blinkers, low and high beam lights, hazard lights, brake lights, driver and front passenger seat belts, open each car door, open the hood and take pictures of front and back of vehicle.
  5. Then you will pull vehicle up in front of another inspection bay. Get out and inspector will drive car into bay and test emissions.

    China Vehicle Inspection Emission Test Building

    Vehicle Inspection Emission Test Building

  6. Inspector will drive car around to you when finished and give you your vehicle, vehicle license and inspection paper.
  7. Park vehicle.
  8. Walk inside inspection office.
  9. Go to counter 1 and pay inspection fee. In 2018 for a small vehicle the fee is 285 CNY.

    China Vehicle Inspection Office

    Vehicle Inspection Office

  10. Go to counter 2 and give your vehicle license, inspection paper and proof of insurance.
  11. Sit and wait as info is entered into computer.
  12. Your license plate number will be called. Go to counter 3 and pick up vehicle license and inspection sticker.
  13. Place sticker on car windshield.

That is the full process. If there are not many people present, it is possible to complete everything in an hour.

What has been your experience with vehicle inspection and registration in China?