The most popular cars
- Nissan Skyline
- Mitsubishi Canter
- Toyota Land Cruiser Prado
- Toyota Land Cruiser
- Toyota Supra
- Mitsubishi Pajero
- Mazda Rx-7
- Toyota Land Cruiser 70
- Nissan Gt-r
- Toyota Mark X
Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York, Kodiak, Tacoma, San Francisco, San Diego, San Antonio, Houston, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah, Georgetown, Baltimore and Newport are the ports of the country.
Left/Right Hand Drive
Both Left Hand drive and Right Hand drive vehicles are allowed to be import in the country.
Importing a Motor Vehicle
Imported motor vehicles are subject to safety standards under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, revised under the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988; to bumper standards under the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act of 1972, which became effective in 1978; and to air pollution control standards under the Clean Air Act of 1968, as amended in 1977, and 1990.
If vehicles manufactured abroad conform to U.S. safety, bumper, and emission standards, it is because these vehicles are exported for sale in the United States. Therefore, it is unlikely that a vehicle obtained abroad meets all relevant standards. Be skeptical of claims by a foreign dealer or other seller that a vehicle meets these standards or can readily be brought into compliance.
Vehicles entering the United States that do not conform with U.S. safety standards must be brought into compliance, exported, or destroyed. This pamphlet provides essential information for U.S. residents, military or civilian government employees, and foreign nationals who are importing a vehicle into the U.S. It includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requirements and those of other agencies whose regulations we enforce. Since Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements are subject to change, we recommend that you contact these agencies before buying a vehicle abroad.
The owner must make arrangements for shipping a vehicle. Have your shipper or carrier notify you of the vehicle's arrival date so that you can make arrangements to process it through CBP. Shipments are cleared at the first port of entry unless you arrange for a freight forwarder abroad to have the vehicle sent in bond to a CBP port more convenient to you. Law prohibits CBP officers from acting as agents or making entries for an importer. However, you may employ a commercial CBP broker to handle your entry.
Documents Required for importation
For CBP clearance you will need the shipper's or carrier's original bill of lading, the bill of sale, foreign registration, and any other documents covering the vehicle. You will also be required to complete EPA form 3520-1 and DOT form HS-7, declaring the emissions and safety provisions under which the vehicle is being imported. Vehicles that meet all U.S. emission requirements will bear manufacturer's label on the engine compartment in English, attesting to that fact. For vehicles that lack such a label, the CBP inspector at the port of entry may require proof of eligibility to import under the EPA exemptions or exclusions specified on form 3520-1.
Vehicles that do not meet all U.S. emission requirements, unless eligible for exemption or exclusion must be imported through an independent commercial importer (ICI). EPA will not allow the vehicles' release to the vehicle owner until ICI work is complete. The ICI will perform any EPA-required modifications and be responsible for assuring that all EPA requirements have been met. Some vehicles cannot be successfully imported or modified by an ICI, however, and in general, ICI fees are very high.
Cleaning the Undercarriage
To safeguard against importation of dangerous pests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the undercarriage of imported cars be free of foreign soil. Have your car steam-sprayed or cleaned thoroughly before shipment.
Your car is not a Shipping Container
For your own safety, security, and convenience, do not use your car as a container for personal belongings.
- Your possessions are susceptible to theft while the vehicle is on the loading and unloading docks and in transit.
- Many shippers and carriers will not accept your vehicle if it contains personal belongings.
- The entire contents of your car must be declared to CBP on entry. Failure to do so can result in a fine or seizure of the car and its contents.
- Your vehicle may be subject to seizure, and you may incur a personal penalty, if anyone uses it as a conveyance of illegal narcotics.
Importing a Vehicle
- The Clean Air Act prohibits importation into the United States of any motor vehicle, motor vehicle engine, nonroad engine and equipment that does not conform to United States EPA emission standards and requirements.
- Importation of Vehicles Over 21 Years Old - The EPA has long interpreted the equivalence requirement to mean that the engine must be identical to the engine that was originally installed. Such an engine is one that is the same model and configuration as the original engine.
Circumstances in which nonconforming vehicles can be import
- By Certification- Nonconforming vehicles can be imported, if they are modified, tested and certified by an Independent Commercial Importer (ICI).
- By Exemption- EPA regulations also allow nonconforming vehicles and engines to be temporarily imported under United States Customs bond, if they qualify for an EPA exemption.
Cars imported for other purposes
Nonresidents may import an automobile or motorcycle and its usual equipment free of duty for a temporary stay to take part in races or other specific purposes. If the contests are for other than money purposes, the vehicle may be admitted for 90 days without formal entry or bond if the CBP officer is satisfied as to the importer's identify and good faith. The vehicle becomes subject to forfeiture if it is not exported or if a bond is not given within 90 days of its importation. Prior written approval must be obtained from DOT.
Safety, Bumper, and Theft Prevention Standards
Importers of motor vehicles must file form HS-7 at the time of vehicle is imported to declare whether the vehicle complies with DOT requirements. As a general rule, motor vehicles less than 25 years old must comply with all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) in order to be imported permanently into the United States. A vehicle must be imported as a nonconforming vehicle unless it bears the manufacturer's label certifying that it meets U.S. standards. If it is a nonconforming vehicle, the importer must contract with a DOT-registered importer (RI) to modify the vehicle and certify that it conforms to all applicable FMVSS.
The following passenger cars, light-duty trucks, heavy-duty engines and motorcycles are subject to federal emission standards:
- Gasoline-fueled cars and light-duty trucks originally manufactured after December 31, 1967.
- Diesel-fueled cars originally manufactured after December 31, 1974.
- Diesel-fueled light-duty trucks originally manufactured after December 31, 1975.
- Heavy-duty engines originally manufactured after December 31, 1969.
- Motorcycles with a displacement more than 49 cubic centimeters originally manufactured after December 31, 1977.
- Vehicles must be certified to U.S. federal emission standards by their manufacturers for sale in the U.S. Vehicles that do not meet these requirements are considered nonconforming.
Taxation in U.S.A.
Foreign-made vehicles imported into the U.S., whether new or used, either for personal use or for sale, are generally dutiable at the following rates:
- Auto : 2.5%
- Trucks : 25%
- Motorcycles : either free or 2.4%
Duty rates are based on price paid or payable. Most Canadian-made vehicles are duty-free.
U.S. citizens employed abroad or government employees returning on TDY or voluntary leave may import a foreign-made car free of duty provided they enter the U.S. for a short visit, claim nonresident status, and export the vehicle when they leave.
Military and civilian employees of the U.S. government returning at the end of an assignment to extended duty outside the CBP territory of the U.S. may include a conforming vehicle among their duty-free personal and household effects. Duty must be paid at the most convenient CBP office before the sale is completed. Conforming vehicles so imported may remain in the U.S. indefinitely once a formal entry is made for EPA purposes.
Non residents may import a vehicle duty-free for personal use up to (1) one year if the vehicle is imported in conjunction with the owner's arrival.
Certain imported automobiles may be subject to the gas-guzzler tax imposed by section 4064 of the Internal Revenue Code. An individual who imports an automobile for personal use, or a commercial importer, may be considered an importer for purposes of this tax and thus liable for payment of the tax.
For up-to-date information please visit https://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export/importing-car