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How often must I get my car checked in China?


Photo by Softeis

China’s roads might not be the safest in the world, but drivers still need to get their vehicles checked regularly to ensure that they are road-worthy. This article will focus on smaller, personal-use vehicles; if you’re going to be driving trucks around Beijing, talk to your bosses to make sure they’re all above board! 


Frequency of inspections 

Vehicles are usually supposed to be checked on an annual basis, but brand new personal cars and small passenger vehicles (including minibuses with six seats or fewer) are exempt from full technical inspections for the first six years after their initial registration. For such cars, owners need only take the vehicle in to the vehicle administration office with the following documents: 

  • Driver’s license.
  • Car’s license.
  • Valid compulsory insurance certificate.
  • Proof of paid Vehicle and Vessel Tax, or proof of exemption from the tax.

The office’s staff will then perform a brief ‘car inspection’, checking the car’s appearance and the written materials before giving the owner a patch to place in the upper-right corner of the windshield, indicating that the vehicle has passed inspection. If there is no queue the whole procedure should be over relatively quickly. 

Before inspection, owners should also make sure that all traffic safety violations and accidents have been properly handled, with fines paid, license points deducted, and so on. 

The car will then not need a full technical examination until towards the end of its sixth year; however, it must go through the above inspection every two years to get another inspection patch. After its sixth year on the roads, the car must begin a regime of annual technical inspections, and after its 15th year it must be inspected every six months. 

Note that pick-up trucks do not count as passenger cars – they must be registered as freight transport vehicles.


Place of inspection 

If the vehicle is subject to inspection exemption and is still within its first six years, the owner can have it inspected at the vehicle administrative office, the traffic management service office or a traffic safety violation office above county level.

Outside of the initial six year exemption, vehicles must be inspected at specific technical inspection locations – see the links at the bottom of the article for a list of addresses.


Booking inspections

The various inspection locations accept applications up to three months prior to the inspection deadline – though ideally you should aim to get it checked one-to-two months before the date. 

If vehicle does not undergo inspection, the traffic police can issue warnings to the owner, or fine them up to 200 yuan. Additionally, it is an illegal act to drive an uninspected vehicle on roads, and in the event of an accident you will not be able to claim insurance. 


The normal inspection process

  1. Initial check: Staff will check the engine number of the vehicle and the number on the car’s license, and take in the appearance and condition of the vehicle. 
  2. Emission test: The vehicle will be driven to an inspection place to get an emission test. If the vehicle passes the test, you will pay an inspection fee and get a paper saying that it is up to standard. If it fails, it must be taken to a repair shop, then inspected again. 
  3. Check traffic safety violations: The vehicle’s owner must ensure that all traffic safety violations are settled (fines paid, points deducted) before the inspection will continue. 
  4. Deposit: The owner must pay a deposit and fill in an appearance inspection form. 
  5. Appearance inspection: The compulsory insurance policy will be checked first, followed by the appearance of the vehicle, including lights, suspension, windows, tires and any alterations that have been made. 
  6. Technical inspection: A string of tests will be carried out here, including brake, headlight and horn. 
  7. Stamp: The owner must hand in a photocopy of your ID and get a stamp from inspection office
  8. Pay and get the patch: Finally, they pay fees, get their deposit back and with it the inspection patch. The patch has a series of numbers around its edge; a hole will be punched out of one of the numbers indicating when your next inspection will be.



The car inspection fee is charged according to which items are inspected. A normal inspection, including emission test, appearance inspection and technical inspection, will cost around 200 yuan. The deposit is 200 yuan. Thankfully, getting the driving patch during the initial six year period is free.


Car inspection locations (Chinese-language only)

Check here.

Check here.

Check here.

Check here.


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