What Cars Have “50 State Emissions”? (Rules and Requirements)

Not all cars were built to meet California’s so-called “50 state emissions” standards.

It’s actually quite easy to know if your car is 50 state emissions or not – all you have to do is read the emissions label, sometimes known as the catalyst sticker.

This will tell you if your car or truck is “49 state emissions” or “50 state emissions”. 

Read on to find out what cars are 50 state emissions..

How to Check your Emissions Label / Catalyst Sticker

Every car or truck has an emissions label which declares the vehicle either both California and Federal compliant, or just Federal compliant.

So all you need to do is to find the label, which is usually located on the underside of the hood, on the airbox, or on the radiator support.

Once you have found your label, you will see very quickly whether your car is 49 state, or 50 state compliant.

The image below is an example of a 50 state compliant emissions label for a vehicle built to 50 state requirements:

catalyst sticker federal and california regulations
Catalyst sticker, California compliant

Please refer to my article about passing California smog with an out-of-state car which has further information and examples of stickers, so as to understand your emissions label catalyst sticker better.

What Does 50 State Emissions Mean?

The meaning of 50 state emissions is that one of the 50 U.S. states (California) has stricter vehicle emissions standards than the remaining 49 states, which have the federal emissions standards.

Because California’s standards are stricter, by default, their standards are acceptable in all fifty states, thereby creating the term “50 state”.

So the question “What cars are 50 state emissions?” refers to vehicles that comply with emissions standards in California, and therefore across all 50 states in the United States.

States that have adopted 50 State emissions.

A number of states have chosen to adopt California’s stricter emissions standards so as to meet their air pollution targets.

These states have exercised their right to adopt the California standards over the federal ones, under Section 177 of the Clean Air Act.

Therefore, in these states, new cars have to comply with 50 state emissions standards, starting from a specified year.

The vehicle you want to check may have been sold in a state that has adopted 50 state emissions standards at some point already, in which case your car or truck is likely to be 50 state emissions compliant, but it would depend on the year of fabrication.

The map and table below shows the states that are “50 state emissions”, along with the “model year” which is the first year that the regulations were applied in that state.

Please note that based on current legislation in the year 2035, sales of new gas-powered cars will be banned, and only new electric or other zero emissions cars will be accepted as 50 state compliant. .

50 State adoption map2

Do all Cars Meet California Emissions?

As already stated, some cars and trucks will be California emissions standards compliant, and some will not.

This is dependent on how they were manufactured in the first place and where and when they were sold.

In any of the states that adopted California’s standards (the “177 states”), all new cars since the first year of implementation would be 50 state.

The states of Nevada, New Mexico and Minnesota have established adoption of the 50 state standards, although it will be three or four years before they come into effect.

In any of the states that comply to the federal standards (49-State), any new car may not be California compliant.

However, it is possible for a new car sold in federal-compliant states to be California compliant, so always check the vehicle’s catalyst sticker.


Not all cars are 50 state emissions compliant.

Consult your vehicle’s emissions label or catalyst sticker to know for sure whether it is 49 state emissions or 50 state emissions.

For further reading about what is 50 state emissions and the 50 state emissions meaning, refer to my article comparing 49 state emissions to 50 state emissions.

States that have adopted CARB emissions

Jonathan Rice

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