You may have heard the buzz about changes to the Massachusetts state vehicle inspection process. However, if you’re like many car owners in the Commonwealth, you may not completely understand these changes, how they may impact you, or the reasons why they are being implemented. The team at HIG is here to help. Below, we provide you with details about the three main updates to the state vehicle inspection process, including why the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) believes they are important to make now.

Change #1: Effective November 1, 2022, your new vehicle inspection sticker will expire one year from the month your old car inspection sticker expired.

Previously, if your car passed its annual emissions and safety inspection, you would be given a new vehicle inspection sticker with an expiration date that was a year from the month you were getting your vehicle inspected. This system applied whether you brought your car in on time or a month or more past your actual inspection due date.

But beginning November 1, 2022, when you get your car inspected and if it passes, the new sticker you receive will have an expiration date based on the month that you were supposed to bring your car in for inspection, rather than the month you actually brought it in.

A bit confused? We hear you. These changes are a little complicated to follow. So, we put together the following chart to illustrate how these new sticker procedures might impact a car owner who delays getting their vehicle inspected.

Your Inspection Due Date Is… You Get Your Car Inspected In… Your New Sticker Expires In… Months Until Your Next Inspection…
June 2023 June 2023 June 2024 12 months
June 2023 August 2023 June 2024 10 months
June 2023 October 2023 June 2024 8 months
June 2023 December 2023 June 2024 6 months

If you’re a car owner who is timely with their vehicle inspections, you may think this change won’t really affect you. The RMV begs to differ.

According to its database, you are probably sharing the road with hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts drivers whose vehicles are overdue for a state inspection. Because these cars have not been inspected regularly, the owners may not be aware of issues or defects that could be making their car unsafe to operate or causing excess emissions of harmful air pollutants.

The RMV believes the changes it has made to the state’s vehicle inspection process will encourage more people to get their cars inspected on time and help keep our roadways and environment safer for everyone.

Change #2: Also effective November 1, 2022, if you put off your car inspection so long that it is now a new calendar year, your new inspection sticker will expire the following January.

You’re probably asking, “Why January? Why not just give me a sticker that is a year from when my old inspection sticker expired?” Much of this has to do with administrative reasons.

Every time we enter a new calendar year, the RMV changes the color of the inspection stickers. When Massachusetts inspection stations receive these new stickers, they remove the past year’s stickers from their computer system and put the new ones in. Once that changeover happens, no old stickers can be printed. This means that a driver whose car inspection is due November 2022, but who does not bring their vehicle in until May 2023, cannot get a November 2023 sticker any longer because all those stickers are in the recycling bin. The inspection station only has 2024 stickers to give out now.

Change #3: Effective as of October 1, 2022, vehicle inspection reports for cars that pass the test are only available online.

If we all looked in our glove compartments right now, it’s likely we’d find a stack of old vehicle inspection reports we’ve collected over the years. As long as our car passes inspection, most of us vehicle owners aren’t very concerned with the details of the inspection report and probably never look at it again after the technician hands it to us.

This excessive paper waste is exactly the reason why the RMV has decided to do away with printed reports for cars that pass inspection. However, drivers will still be able to get a copy of their vehicle inspection report online by going to Massachusetts Vehicle Check. To access your report, you’ll need just two pieces of information—your vehicle’s registration number, which is the same as your license plate number, and your car’s vehicle identification number, which can be found on your vehicle registration document.

If your car fails inspection, that’s a different story. In that case, you will get a printed report because it is critical that you, and whoever you get to repair your car, have specific information about what needs to be done to get your vehicle roadworthy again.

Getting your vehicle repaired and retested is not something you want to put off. If you don’t comply within 60 days of your initial inspection, the RMV may suspend your registration. This brochure, which you will get along with the inspection report, provides additional information on what you will need to do if your vehicle has failed.

The experienced team at HIG answers your questions about vehicle inspections and more

You may be wondering if there is anything else you need to know before you take your car in for its next inspection. Aside from the three changes we’ve discussed above, everything else about the state’s vehicle inspection process will remain the same. For example, it will still cost most drivers $35 to get their personal cars inspected; there are still 1,800 inspection stations across Massachusetts where you can get your car tested; and the penalty for getting caught with an expired inspection sticker, or no inspection sticker at all, is a $40 ticket.

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