7 Steps Needed to Import Cars to USA

January 27, 2012

It is possible to import cars to USA, but to do so legally requires following these seven essential steps. Any vehicle that is to be imported into the US must comply with safety regulations, bumper standards, as well as pass air pollution controls. As long as a vehicle manufactured outside the US conforms to these standards and regulations, it is possible to import them. In case a vehicle that has been manufactured abroad does not conform to required standards, these must, after entering the US, be made to comply with the required regulations and standards.

Make Arrangements Before Importing the Vehicle

It is the owner’s responsibility to make prior arrangements regarding shipping of the vehicle to the US. In addition, it is important to get the carrier/shipper to notify the importer regarding expected date of arrival of the vehicle as this will make it easy to get the vehicle cleared through Customs.

Complete Necessary Documentation

In order to get the vehicle cleared through Customs, the importer must have on hand the carrier/shipper’s original bill of lading and the bill of sale as well as foreign registration. Furthermore, any other document pertaining to the vehicle must also be provided. It is also necessary to complete documents such as EPA form 3520 – 1 as well as DOT form HS-7.

Clean the Vehicle’s Undercarriage

The US Department of Agriculture requires that cars being imported into the US be free of all hazardous pests and so the US Department of Agriculture requires that each imported vehicle has its undercarriage thoroughly cleaned (before being shipped to the US) through steam spraying or other appropriate method.

The Vehicle Is Not a Container for Shipping Items

It is risky treating the imported vehicle as a shipping container. So, it does not make sense to load it with personal belongings. There is a high risk of items being stolen during transit and some shippers also do not accept vehicles which contain personal belongings. In addition, it is necessary to declare these items to the Customs when the vehicle enters the US. Failure to declare personal belongings can lead to fine and seizure.

Pay Duty

A vehicle that has been made abroad, when being imported into the US, whether in new or used condition, and whether for personal use or for sale, will be levied a duty. The rates vary with duty for autos being 2.5% and for trucks it is 25% while for motorcycles, it is fee or 2.4%.

Duty Free Import

Only non-residents are allowed to import vehicles into the US without having to pay any duty. Of course, this is subject to the fact that the vehicle will be used for personal use for a period of one year after its (and its owner’s) arrival in the US. US Citizens working abroad or government employees that are coming back to the US on TDY or on voluntary leave can import foreign vehicles into the US without paying any duty.

Pay Gas-Guzzler Tax

Some imported vehicles can be charged a tax called the gas-guzzler tax which is based on a combination of urban and highway fuel economy ratings for the vehicle.

Following these simple tips is the best way to import vehicles into the US with minimum fuss or bother. In order to make the import process even more streamlined, it pays to understand US import regulations as well as US import auto laws. In addition, importing conforming (instead of non-conforming) vehicles will also make the entire import process smooth and trouble-free.

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