Sometimes, the choices available at the local dealership just don’t make the cut. We are forced to look overseas for the perfect vehicle. This happens more often than one might think, so there’s no reason not to consider bringing home that special car from abroad.
Before making that decision, you must be prepared to observe a few rules and regulations in the US for bringing in a motor vehicle from outside the county.
Check safety and emissions standards
Importing a car without checking this could result in the vehicle being exported or destroyed. If you have your eye on a particular vehicle that doesn’t meet those standards in its current condition, modifications will have to be made to bring it up to code.
If the vehicle is more than 25 years old, it is exempt from the requirements of the EPA and DOT, but paperwork will still need to be obtained from those departments in order to clear the vehicle through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
File with U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Vehicles brought into the US must be filed it with CBP at their point of entry. At this point, the vehicle must be declared and certain forms filled out. The person bringing the car into the country must have valid proof of ownership and the necessary paperwork from the DOT and EPA on hand.
If the vehicle has not been in the owner’s household for at least a year before import, duty must be paid on it. The Department of Motor Vehicles will not register a car until it has been filed with CBP, so it is important to double-check that all the necessary paperwork is in order.
Bring your car to the United States
When it’s time to bring a car through the border, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the undercarriage of imported cars be free of foreign soil. Vehicles must be steam-sprayed or cleaned thoroughly before shipment to prevent the accidental import of dangerous pests.
Different rules for different countries
There will be additional rules, depending on where the vehicle is coming from. Once a buyer has selected a car, it is up to him or her to ensure that all the regionally specific requirements are met. For example:
When bringing a car from Canada, the buyer is required to obtain a temporary license plate and insurance card from whichever Canadian Province the vehicle is purchased from. This rule applies even if the buyer’s U.S. insurance is extended to cover it.
If you find a car in South Africa, you may need to register as an importer with South African Customs.
If the car is registered in the U.K. and is going to be in the U.S. for more than 12 months, U.K. Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will need to be informed that the vehicle is being permanently exported.
Wherever you find that dream vehicle, there are certain requirements you must keep in mind when bringing it to the US from overseas. Be sure you know what paperwork is required and file it on time.
Make any modifications necessary to meet safety and emissions standards. Ensure that the vehicle is free of foreign soil before attempting to bring it across the border. And finally, research the requirements of the individual country it is being brought in from.