How to Import Cars to The U.S. ?

tendata blogImport News

ten data blog25-06-2023

What to know before importing a car to the United States

Importing a car requires more legwork than purchasing a vehicle from your neighborhood dealership. Before buying a car overseas, there are several things you should know.

  • Federal regulations

If you want to import cars that's less than 25 years old, it must meet the Department of Transportation's (DOT) safety and theft prevention standards. It must also meet the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) emissions standards. Some overseas vehicles are manufactured for sale in the U.S., and meet U.S. safety and environmental requirements. If the car you buy doesn't, you need to have it modified to meet the agencies' standards before you can drive it.

Cars over 25 years old that haven't been modified are typically exempt from EPA and DOT restrictions. If you're buying a classic car, it may not need to adhere to the current regulations. Find out if your imported car is exempt from emissions testing and restrictions.

  • Import restrictions

The U.S. government prohibits the importation of vehicles from certain countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Cuba.

  • Shipping containers

There are two types of shipping containers you can choose from when transporting your car overseas — shared and individual. Shared containers house multiple vehicles, and individual containers hold only one. It costs less to ship a car using a shared container.

  • Insurance

Shipping companies typically have liability insurance. However, they often maintain low limits for the cars they transport. So, you could be on the hook for a significant amount if your car sustains any damage during its trek to the U.S. Having an auto insurance policy on your car could provide additional coverage should something go wrong during the import process.


How much does it cost to import cars to the USA?

Importing a car to the United States can be overwhelming. Here are things to know that can help you prepare.

Choose a shipping company: Not all transport companies ship overseas, so you'll need to find one that does. Shipping a car to the United States can be done through ocean freight or air freight. The cost depends on factors such as the distance, shipping method, size of the vehicle, and the shipping company you choose. Obtaining quotes from different shipping companies is recommended for accurate pricing.

Have the car cleaned: The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the undercarriage of vehicles coming to the U.S. be cleaned before entering the country.

Contact customs: Let them know when your car will be arriving so you can arrange to pick it up.

Prepare the necessary documents: Before taking possession of your vehicle, you must show the bill of lading from the shipping company, the car's foreign registration, and the bill of sale. You'll also need to submit EPA form 3250-1, for U.S. emissions requirements, and DOT form HS-7, indicating it meets U.S. safety standards.

Complete customs entry form: When you arrive at customs to pick up your vehicle, you must complete form 7501 to show the car was processed at the port of entry.

Pay duty fees: When importing vehicles to the United States, you'll be subject to import duties. The duty rate can vary depending on the vehicle's type (passenger car, truck, etc.) and country of origin. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, current rates are 2.5% of the purchase price for automobiles, free or 2.4% for motorcycles, and 25% for trucks.

Take possession of your car: You must be present or hire a customs broker to sign for your car when it arrives. A customs broker assists with the import process, handling documentation, customs clearance, and compliance with U.S. regulations. Their fees can vary depending on the services provided. Customs fees cover the processing and clearance of the imported vehicle. The MPF is a fee based on the value of the merchandise being imported, including the vehicle.

Transport and handling fees: Once the vehicle arrives in the United States, you'll need to transport it from the port of entry to your desired location. There will be transportation and handling fees involved, which can vary based on distance, location, and the specific logistics company you choose.

Vehicle compliance and modifications: Imported vehicles need to comply with U.S. safety and environmental standards. Depending on the vehicle's specifications, you may need to make modifications to meet requirements such as emissions, lighting, and bumper standards. These modifications can incur additional costs.

Vehicle registration and licensing: After the vehicle clears customs, you'll need to register and license it in the state where you plan to sell it. Costs for registration, title fees, and licensing vary from state to state. If your car doesn't qualify for an exemption and doesn't meet U.S. emissions requirements, you must import it through an independent commercial importer (ICI). The ICI must modify it to comply with EPA regulations before releasing it.

Insurance: It's essential to obtain insurance coverage for the vehicles you import to protect them during transportation and while they are in your possession.

Marketing and sales expenses: Once the vehicles are in the United States, you'll need to consider expenses related to marketing, advertising, and sales efforts to promote and sell the vehicles.

Other expenses: Miscellaneous expenses may include storage fees, professional services (such as legal or accounting), inspection fees, and any necessary repairs or maintenance.

It's important to note that regulations and costs can vary depending on the country of origin and specific circumstances. Consulting with a customs broker or Tendata international trade professional is highly recommended to get the most accurate and up-to-date information based on your specific situation and the type of vehicles you plan to import.

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