Importing a Car into USA from UK

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Importing a Car into USA from UK
🇬🇧 United Kingdom, (GB)

Import a Car into USA from UK

UK vehicle options quite often differ from the ones in America. Even similar cars and vehicles, from the same model line and manufacturer can have features unique to its country of origin. When importing a car into USA from UK, the logistical problems you must solve compared to the US can be substantial. For an overview of the requirements and steps of importing a vehicle from the UK, read on.

Choose the Vehicle and Verify Emissions

If you plan on importing a car into USA from the UK, you’ve probably thought of a model already. If not, look through the various brands to make sure the car you’re looking at can’t also be found in the U.S. If it can, it’s usually cheaper to buy it from within the country. If you’ve decided on a foreign vehicle, review the U.S. laws regarding emissions and compare them to your automobile’s emission ratings. If they match, you can legally import the car.

Contact and Negotiate with the Dealer

If you have a certain car dealer you’d like to collaborate with in the United Kingdom, call him to start negotiations. If not, you can directly contact the car model’s manufacturer for details on how to obtain it. Many times, dealing directly with the manufacturer makes your job much easier. Some manufacturers will even take care of shipping procedures and customs forms for you. The negotiation process may be similar to the US one depending on the manufacturer or dealer you’re working with.

Shipping Arrangements

Importing a car into USA from UK, requires you to hire an auto transport company. Make sure to take this into your considerations when thinking of buying a UK vehicle, as it can add a few hundred dollars to its original price. You can choose from local shippers with international partners, or find someone inside the UK to help with the move. However, you will probably be able to find the best prices from companies based in the US which provide international shipping.

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The appropriate documentation needs to be filled out for importing a car into USA from UK, along with the eventual export taxes and papers. To bring the vehicle into the US, you’ll most likely have to prepare the import documentation as well. You can ask the manufacturer or auto shipping company for help, as well as your state’s DMV.

Importing Classic Cars from the UK

When importing a car into USA from UK older than 25 years, you need to take into consideration the appropriate regulations, rules and documentation. You will need to prepare:

  • A DOT RI contract,
  • S. 3520-1 EPA form,
  • S. HS-7 DOT form,
  • Money for duty payments.

Verify the Approved Automobiles NHTSA List

This will help you figure out if importing a car into USA from UK is a feasible endeavor. If your purchased car does not appear on the list, a registered importer certified by the DOT may be able to help you. Such a specialist can modify your vehicle, so it conforms to safety and crash standards.

To make sure your automobile conforms to safety and bumper standards, get a HS-7 DOT form. A registered importer’s services can be quite expensive, but are a necessary investment for importing a car into USA from UK.

Speak to the EPA

To familiarize yourself with the regulations you must follow to import a vehicle into the United States, it’s recommended you consult the EPA guidelines. The procedures for testing emissions will measure the particle emissions, nitrous oxide and hydrocarbons coming out of your vehicle’s tailpipe while it is fixed in a dynamometer.

Before you can import and use a vehicle inside the United States, it must meet all EPA standards. Racing vehicles and classic / vintage automobiles built more than 21 years ago are excluded from these requirements.

To prove your automobile meets EPA requirements, get a U.S. 3520-1 EPA form. You will give this to United States Customs when entering the country. Let your shipper or carrier know of the day your vehicle is set to arrive, so it may take the appropriate steps with the United States Customs Office.

Undercarriage Cleaning

To prevent insects and foreign soil from entering the United States, the Department of Agriculture demands you steam wash and clean the undercarriage of your vehicle before importing it. You can have a car wash handle this procedure if they’ve done it before and know how to do it.

Transporting the Automobile

Prepare the original bill of sale, the car’s registration and the bill of landing, and start the shipping process. Upon your vehicle’s arrival, present this paperwork, along with a 3520-1 EPA form to Customs.

You will have to pay a duty rate equivalent to 2.5% of your vehicle’s price. Other exemption and / or regulations may vary. For information on fees, updates and exemptions when importing a car into USA from UK, speak to the United States Customs and Border Protection.

Empty your automobile before shipping it. The contents may be robbed during shipment, and many auto transport companies will not ship an automobile with personal items still inside. Even if they do ship it, you will have to pay a large sum to Customs upon arrival.

Importing a Car into USA from UK Laws

If your automobile does not respect emission requirements, you will need the help of an ICI. The independent commercial importer will ensure your automobile received the appropriate modifications, so it meets EPA standards. Until these are done, the EPA will not permit your automobile’s release.

Taxes and Standards

There are some countries from which you cannot import a vehicle. Contact OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) for up to date information on importing a car into USA from UK. Countries from the Middle East, Africa, as well Cuba and some Central American countries face such importing sanctions. You can easily obtain information on these countries using the OFAC phone number.

Needless to say, if your imported vehicle carries drugs, narcotics or other banned items, you will be detained. Ensure the place and person / company selling the vehicle is trustworthy and the transport is secure. Since your name will be on the car’s title, you risk being held responsible.

Vehicle Scams

Importation scams range from receiving your money without importing a car into USA from UK to delivering a different one. You can avoid this by buying your vehicle in person. However, in cases when you cannot do this, please be aware of the following red flags:

  1. Not caring for safety standards. Hundreds of unsafe vehicles are registered and imported each year, only for their new owners to discover they cannot legally drive them. If you are discovered by authorities, they will take away your vehicle unless you modify it, which may be quite expensive.
  2. Unsafe payment methods. Do not deal with automobile importers who ask for their payment to be sent through Western Union. Ask your bank for more instructions. Similar vehicle payment scams occur when a tracking number is sent your way using an escrow service. Verify the email. Yahoo And Money Bookers don’t utilize Western Union. If the dealer asks to be paid through eBonza or PayTrust, he’s most likely trying to scam you.
  3. No taxes. If the company you are dealing with doesn’t ask for fees for import taxes, it is a big red flag. Search for customer reviews and any other sign they are a legitimate business with a history. Some people have been scammed by importers using faulty documentation to void duty payments upon their import. This is most often done by car dealerships, so be wary if the offer sounds too good to be true.
  4. Lost car location. Keep all the documentation you’ve signed with the company and read the fine print carefully. Otherwise, you risk arriving at your new home with the car nowhere to be seen. The company might not be obligated to inform you of its location, of when it will arrive, or even if it’s still on its way and not stolen or lost. Buying insurance can also protect you from such an event.
  5. Clear title. Importing a car into USA from UK cannot be done legally without first clearing its title. Make sure this information is provided to you. Afterwards, verify the vehicle’s title yourself.
Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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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.

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