There are some very well defined regulations for importing vehicles into the US. While anyone who hasn’t imported a vehicle before will find the process to be tedious and quite demanding, those who have imported before will experience a cakewalk. If you have all the documents and if you understand how each relevant agency play a role in the import, then the whole process can be very simple and quite pleasant.
Whether there is an exporter or you have purchased a vehicle yourself and are thus importing it into the US, it is not as simple as hiring an international courier service who have a specialist department for moving vehicles internationally, alongside other services such as sending a parcel to USA or a container by sea of commercial goods. In addition to the direct costs of physically moving the vehicle you must also cost in and consider these additional points:-
- Your vehicle must conform to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Emission Rules. The rules require a vehicle to be thoroughly tested in lab and when driven. The tests involve checking everything from starting to baking, idling to refueling. There are many cars of many brands manufactured or sold in many countries that would by default qualify according to the emission rules of the Environmental Protection Agency. If you have purchased one such vehicle then this process becomes a cakewalk, or a mere formality. The VIN, date of manufacture, brand and other specifications which need to be mentioned on the EPA form can be enough to get through this step.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation have rules of their own. Any vehicle being imported must meet the motor vehicle safety standards. This is again rather simple if the VIN of the car is listed as in compliance with the DoT and NHTSA rules. You can check the federal bumper standards and safety requirements to know more.
- Every car being imported to the US will be charged at the customs. This can be paid before you import a vehicle or at the time of import when it arrives at a port. Some cars are duty free, especially cars manufactured in Canada. The customs duty can be as little as 2.5% of the value of the car up to 25% which is generally applicable for trucks. If you own the car or truck already, in another country and you are just moving it, for non-sale purposes, then you need a bill of lading and you can talk to the customs authorities to know the tax that you would be charged.
There are certain states with a few additional rules for importing a car. Check such state level statutes to be sure.