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The Requirements of Importing a Vehicle to the United States

While it's not as common of a practice, importing a vehicle to the United States is something that you may want to consider. The problem with doing so is that it can be a very complicated process, as there are numerous rules and regulations that have to be followed. All vehicles that are imported to the United States have to follow strict requirements in regards to emission standards, safety standards, and even with bumper standards.


Imported cars that auto dealers sell in the country are manufactured abroad specifically for the US market. Vehicles made abroad not specifically for the U.S. market should be examined quite closely to see if they adhere to the same standards that the United States requires. Here are the main things that you should know about the requirements:


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States creates and regulates the vehicle emissions standards in terms of air pollution.


Under certain conditions, the following vehicles do not have to adhere to emissions requirements:


  • Racing cars
  • Non-chassis mounted engines
  • Vehicles built before 1968
  • Unregulated fuel vehicles


You can visit the EPA's website here for more information:


The emissions requirements themselves are based on strict measurements of Carbon Monoxide, Hydrocarbons, Nitrous Oxides, Evaporative emissions, and Particulate Emissions.


A declaration form has to be included to the U.S. Customs, which is Form 3520-1, located here:


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) / The Department of Transportation (DOT)

If a vehicle is less than 25 years old, it has to adhere to certain motor vehicle safety standards as dictated by the Department of Transportation, in addition to certain bumper standards.


You will need to fill out and file the DOT HS-7 form at the time of entry of the vehicle to make sure that it follows these regulations. You can find it at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website here:


A certification label has to be placed on the vehicle by its original manufacturer if it follows all of the safety standards. If it doesn't, the person importing the vehicle has to reach an agreement with a DOT Registered Importer in order to ensure that the vehicle is modified to meet U.S. requirements. This contract has to be placed on the DOT HS-7 form and given to the U.S. Customs officials during its arrival.


S. Customs and Border Protection

All vehicles that are imported have to be approved by the U.S. Customers and Border Proection agency. The required documents are:


  • The original bill of lading
  • The bill of sale
  • The foreign registration
  • EPA Form 3520-1
  • DOT HS-7 Form


An ICI, known as an Independent Commercial Importer, is an option to chose, as they will make sure that your vehicle is modified to fit any of the EPA's requirements.


Visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's guide to importing vehicles at


A-1 Auto Transport will be able to help you out with this process! Contact us today.


The 5 Trends Shaping the Auto Industry in 2015

2014 proved to be the best year in auto sales since 2006. And in 2015, this momentum is expected to continue, as some estimates peg sales as being as high as 17 million vehicles. Some of the reasons for the increase in sales are an improvement in consumer confidence, more access to credit, and an economy that is much healthier than it has been during the past few years. With that being said, here are the 5 trends that are shaping the auto industry in 2015.



Better In-Car Technology

This isn't referring to such things as heated seats, but instead, to digital elements that consumers are demanding more and more of. In-car technology is one of the top selling points of new vehicles, which auto manufacturers certainly realize. Infotainment systems are being designed to be more intuitive and user-friendly, with systems that are designed to do even more, whether its in regards to GPS, Bluetooth connectivity, or playing music directly from your smartphone.



Subcompact SUVs

Subcompact SUVs are poised to be the hottest new car sector in the United States. Similar to sport utilities, they are designed for people that want an SUV but are put off by the cost. Some of the prominent names to look out for include the Honda HR-V and Mazda MX-3. They are being marketed at young people, particularly urban explorers. Already having proved to be extremely popular in many parts of world, such as Australia, 2015 will determine their future in the United States.



Pickup Trucks

Yes, you read that right. In 2015, pickup trucks are hotter than ever, with all of the three main auto manufacturers in the United States engaged in heavy competition with each other. The fact that both Nissan and Toyota are also planning on introducing new pickup trucks in 2015 is just another sign of the consumer demand for them. Competition breeds innovation, so look for the considerable improvements in the new batch of pickup trucks that are being released.


Speed, Speed, Speed

Gas prices are lower than they have been in years. As a result, consumers aren't as concerned about spending money on gas like they used to be. High-performance sports cars are now in greater demand than before, including such successful vehicles as the Cadillac CTS-V.



Green Vehicles

Green is in. More and more consumers have become environmentally conscious, meaning that auto makers are producing vehicles that are increasingly green. Not that many of them have a choice. Government regulations that have been put in place have dictated strict terms that they have to follow, such as in fuel economy. New vehicles are thus trying to be extremely fuel efficient, including utilizing fuel-cell concepts. Toyota, for example, will be selling its Mirai fuel cell vehicle later this year in certain states.



Look out for these trends in 2015. While many of them may not last, you can be confident that you'll notice them, especially if you're in the market for a new vehicle. Innovation is certainly the name of the game this year!

Cargo Shipping History: Intermodal Containers

Almost any product you buy has been shipped at one point or another, and often, inside of an intermodal container (also commonly referred to simply as a shipping container). From everyday purchases you make at the drug store to the car you drive to get there, every type of good that’s bought and sold has to be transported from one point to another. In this blog post, we take a look at the history of one of the most popular methods of moving goods around the world: intermodal containers.



The widespread use of standardized containers meant that cargo could be handled in larger quantities and tracking could be automated. Freight could me moved more quickly and warehousing was less of an issue since the process of getting in and out of ports was sped up. Container shipping really took off during World War II and was a major factor in the U.S. economic boom that followed it.


To learn more about the history of shipping and intermodal containers, visit this resource from Hofstra University.


Overview - The implementation of shipping containers (also called intermodal containers) revolutionized the global transport industry between World War II and the 1970s. Not only did it make domestic and international trade more efficient and cost-effective, but it also helped pushed national and worldwide standards within the transport industry. This set the stage for the development of cargo transport by train and ship and helped ensure that common standards were used for the shipment of any type of goods.


What Is an Intermodal Container? - An intermodal or shipping container is a 20-foot lockable metal container used to move goods from one place to another. Since the containers are locked during shipping and assigned a tracking number, it simplifies the logistics of shipping and receiving goods. The intermodal aspect comes from the fact these containers can easily be moved between different modes of transport. For example, cargo inside a container may be moved by truck, rail or ship, as well as easily moved from one mode of transport to another. 


Little Eaton Gangway (Derby Canal Railway) - The Little Eaton Gangway  in England was one of the earliest examples of what would later become modern containerized shipping. The delivery route, also known as the Derby Canal Railway, was a wagon trail used to move coal from the mines in Denby to Little Eaton. The shipments had previously been made by pack horses before the construction of the canal. The 5-mile track opened in 1795 and you can view pictures and learn more about it here.


Growth of the Rail - By 1850s, trains were moving containers on a regular basis, though there was no standard size and containers were not yet covered. Standardization of container sizes, which is essential to the intermodal aspect of transport, was not introduced until 1933 and was not fully integrated until the 1970s.


Modern Intermodal Containers - The modern cargo shipping industry had a watershed moment in 1955 when Malcolm McLean teamed up with Keith Tantlinger to develop metal containers that used a locking mechanism. The containers would eventually become stackable and uniform in size. 1969 saw the introduction of the twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU), which is still the standard used worldwide in the cargo transport industry. By 1970, the International Organization for Standardization had introduced global standards for shipping cargo, which built on those established with the twenty-foot equivalent unit.

The Changing Nigeria Auto Market

The Nigerian auto market should be undergoing some big changes this year and beyond, as the government in Nigeria is trying to initiate an overhaul.


As a country that boasts the largest economy in Africa, it also has the largest population. Recently, Nigeria surpassed South Africa in becoming the 21st biggest economy, with it being valued at over $500 billion. The problem that their government is currently dealing with though is in trying to get automakers to start manufacturing automobiles in Nigeria itself, rather than relying on imports as they have been doing for the past few decades. The steps that they're taking to do so are quite simple, as it's a two-step process:


Stop the Importing of Vehicles

This is the first step of their process and is an obvious one. Starting in 2014, the Nigerian government has been steadily increasing the import tax rates on car imports, with the goal being to eventually increase these import tax rates by 70%. The first increase was introduced in February of 2014, with an increase of 34%. As a direct result, the amount of car imports from the United States to Nigeria decreased by a year-on-year rate of close to 50%.


The next 35% increase was supposed to be implemented on January 1st, 2015, but the Nigerian government recently decided to push that back to April of 2015, with the reason being that there simply has not been enough movement on the part of automakers to build the infrastructure needed within the country to produce vehicles at a significant production volume.


Because of these tax import increases and the one that is coming in April of this year, many exporters that shipped cars to Nigeria, specifically to the Port of Lagos, are now deciding against it. Instead, they are getting around this issue by shipping cars to the Port in Benin instead, which is a country that borders Nigeria.


Benin now has a new influx of cars being shipped there, with many citizens from Nigeria simply choosing to pick up the vehicles there and to then drive them back to Nigeria. Of course, this is technically an illegal practice, but Nigerians are finding ways to smuggle them across their border. The Nigerian government is aware of this and is trying to put a stop to it.


Make Automakers Manufacture Vehicles in Nigeria

Of course, the Nigerian government has to try and make sure that the automakers start producing vehicles in their own country. One way that they're planning on doing so is through passing a law in April of this year, in which any automaker that has sales of over 10,000 units during the year has to start manufacturing the vehicles in the country. This has already been a success even before it has officially been passed, with companies such as Honda and Volkswagen currently making plans to open up factories.


Adding to this is that oil prices, which the Nigerian government relies on heavily as their main export, have seen a sharp decrease in their prices. In order to make sure that they have revenue coming in, these new import taxes are more important than ever for them, and if the price of oil doesn't rebound, you can expect them to make the import taxes even higher.


Nigeria's import market is one to watch for this year!

Shipping Individual Car Parts Abroad

Whatever your need may be, such as if you're stationed overseas or are an expat in need of car parts from the United States, there are some rules and regulations that you should understand about shipping individual car parts abroad. Check out the following guide for some tips to make sure that your car parts arrive safe and sound to your final destination.


Drain All Fluids

With almost no exception, all international shipments of individual car parts, such as batteries or motors, have to contain zero fluids. All of the fluids have to be drained entirely, with no trace of anything present, especially any flammable substances. Not doing so can classify the part as being a dangerous good, which can cause a considerable amount of delays during the shipping process.


Understand What Dangerous Goods Are

If your car part is deemed to be a dangerous good, this means that it is considered to post a certain level of risk to property, safety, and health during the transportation process. The United States uses the term "Hazardous Material," also known as HAZMAT, to classify these dangerous goods. When transported by an international ocean freight, they are called Dangerous Goods in international waters.


So what are they? The following categories are what your auto part will have to fall into to be considered a Dangerous Good:


  • Explosives
  • Gases
  • Flammable Liquids
  • Flammable Substances (Solids)
  • Substances that can emit flammable gases when exposed to water
  • Toxic substances
  • Corrosives
  • Oxidizing Substances that bring with them the risk of fire
  • Organic peroxides


What to Do If Your Car Part is Considered a Dangerous Good

Even if you drain the fluid completely, your car part can still be considered a dangerous good in some cases. If this is the particular case, you should make sure that you have the right documents in place to classify it as such. Your shipping company should inform you of the documents that you would need and make sure that you have everything in place BEFORE it is placed on the ocean freight. Otherwise, once it arrives at its port of destination, you may have to pay stiff fees and experience delays in dealing with customs.


Dangerous Goods will need to have specific shipping documents in place, not to mention certain special labeling, marking, and packing.


Each country has different requirements than the other, so you will need to do your research. Better yet, chose an auto company, such as A-1 Auto Transport, that are experts in this field and can steer you along the right direction!


A valuable research is the International Maritime Organization and their classification system of dangerous goods, which you can visit here at:


Good luck, and remember that shipping auto parts abroad are actually quite simple as long as they're safe. Just make sure that they're the correct parts!