A-1 Guide To Importing Cars Into The USA
There are two important consideration when importing a car into the U.S.: emission standards and vehicle conformity (“safety” might be a better way to describe conformity for these purposes).
Emission standards are dictated by the Environmental Protection Agency and conformity is overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Here’s a little more about each of them as it pertains to importing a vehicle.
If a car is brought into the U.S. for permanent usage, you will need to get a certification from the E.P.A. that it complies with emission standards. Most cars manufactured outside of the USA do not have a label of compliance, which indicates that it meets EPA standards (some may—check around the driver side door or contact the manufacturer).
If you are importing a car into the US for permanent usage, you will have to fix any issues regarding emissions, safety, or functionality of the vehicle before getting clearance. Generally, the period given in which to make the necessary repairs is one month.
Department of Transportation Standards
Just like imported cars must passed muster with the E.P.A. in regard to hazardous emissions, they also need to meet standards established by the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This test looks at basic components of the vehicle, checking that seat belts, wipers, head lights and other necessary safety measures are in place and working.
Country Specific Import Restrictions
Cars and other goods may not be imported from certain countries, such as Iran and Cuba, so make sure to check with the Office of Foreign Assets Control to see which countries are currently prohibited (see below under resources for more information).
Any vehicle imported into the U.S. must have a clean title and pay a duty, which is generally around 2.5% of the value of the vehicle, though there are some exceptions.
Call us today at the number at the top of the page if you’re planning or considering shipping a car to the U.S. from another country! Our international shipping and import staff are on hand to answer your questions and offer advice 24 hours a day! Contact us today to learn more, or if you’d like a FREE cost estimate!
USA Vehicle Import Resources
NHTSA Vehicle Import Certification - Information about which types of vehicles may be imported, as well as import certification guidelines. This is a great place to look if you need to know more about meeting U.S. standards for vehicles.
Sanction Programs By Country - A current listing of the countries that the U.S. has sanctions against, many of which prohibit the import of goods, which includes vehicles. Vehicles from countries with sanctions against them may also not be brought into the country through a third party or another country.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.