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How to Import a Car to the US

The following provides information concerning the importation of a passenger car, truck, trailer, motorcycle, moped, bus, or MPV built to comply with the standards of a country other than the U.S. or Canada.� Importers of motor vehicles must file form HS-7 (available at ports of entry) at the time a vehicle is imported to declare whether the vehicle complies with DOT requirements. As a general rule, a motor vehicle less than 25 years old must comply with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) to be imported permanently. Vehicles manufactured to meet the FMVSS will have a certification label affixed by the original manufacturer in the area of the driver�s door. To make importation easier, when purchasing a vehicle certified to the U.S. standards abroad, a buyer should have the sales contract verify that the label is attached and present this document at time of importation.

A vehicle without this certification label must be imported as a nonconforming vehicle. In this case, the importer must contract with a Registered Importer (RI) and post a DOT bond for one and a half times the vehicle�s dutiable value. This bond is in addition to the normal Customs entry bond. Copies of the DOT bond and the contract with an RI must be attached to the HS-7 form.
Under the contract, the RI will modify the vehicle to conform to all applicable FMVSS and so certify the vehicle. Before an RI can modify a vehicle, NHTSA must have determined that the vehicle is capable of being modified to comply with the FMVSS. If no determination has been made, the RI must petition NHTSA to determine whether the vehicle is capable of being modified to comply with the FMVSS. If the petitioned vehicle is not substantially similar to a vehicle of the same model year certified for sale in the U.S., this process becomes very complex and costly. A list of vehicles previously determined eligible for importation can be found on the NHTSA web site at
Since the cost of modifying a nonconforming vehicle, or the time required to bring it into conformance, may affect the decision to purchase a vehicle abroad, we strongly recommend discussing these aspects with an RI before buying and shipping a vehicle to the U.S.
For federal regulations concerning vehicle emissions contact the Environmental Protection Agency, Certification and Compliance Division � Imports Program, 2000 Traverwood, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, (734) 214-4100, or
For information regarding registration or operation of a properly imported vehicle in a specific State, we advise you to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or other appropriate agency in that State since the requirements vary by State.

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