Gift Icon Get a 20% discount from our partners! Discount code will get added automatically when you submit the form.
4.7 Star Rating4.7 (67,926 reviews)
How much does shipping your Vehicle cost?
Free Instant Online Calculator based on quotes from Trusted Auto Shipping Companies
Customer Images
7790 people shipped using A-1 Auto Transport last week

Joe brought me peace of mind. I can’t thank you enough for being so reliable and trustworthy

No risk, no contracts. Just calculate your quote first and choose your contractor later.

Dave loved the fast deliveryDave C.
Dave loved the fast delivery
My relocation to Chicago was fast, smooth and without any delay thanks to A1 Auto.
Courtney enjoyed the honest guidanceCourtney J.
Courtney enjoyed the honest guidance
Just what you need when trusting someone with your wheels! Kudos to this company!
Jeff enjoyed the fair priceJeff D.
Jeff enjoyed the fair price
Moved my ride hassle-free with these folks.Fair pricing, no surprises. Definitely recommend them!
Maria enjoyed the special care and safetyMaria L.
Maria enjoyed the special care and safety
Huge thanks to the movers – they were meticulous with my car. Love these guys.
Recently featured on USA Today

“A1 Auto Transport became synonymous with top-notch service delivery, unfailing punctuality and constantly preoccupied with customer satisfaction.

See Article— USA Today

Is Importing a Car Difficult?

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. Should You Import a Car?
  2. Comply with US Car Import Laws
  3. Verify the Vehicle Passes U.S Standards for Vehicle Importation
  4. Show and Display Rule
  5. Obtain the Documentation Required for Vehicle Importation
  6. Importing from European or Asian Countries
  7. Is the Process for Importing New and Used Vehicles the Same?
  8. What Are the Costs of Importing a Car to the United States?
  9. The 25-Year-Old Age Limit
  10. Final Thoughts
Is Importing a Car Difficult?

Have you ever been interested in purchasing a car from outside your country? Importing a vehicle can seem daunting, and oftentimes, there are big decisions that need to be made. But is importing a car really difficult?

With enough preparation and the correct information, it can be done relatively easily. In this article, we'll talk about the challenges of importing a car and how to deal with them.

Should You Import a Car?

While importing a car from another nation, one must adhere to American laws, rules, and regulations. Imported motor vehicles must meet safety, bumper, and air pollution control standards in order to be brought into the United States.

Many rules don't apply to Canadian cars that are imported, but they still have to meet some US import standards.

Foreign-made cars may need to be changed, so it's best to use an independent commercial importer for this process.

When buying a foreign car to bring into the U.S., be wary of dealers who say their cars meet U.S. standards.

Instead, pay for an inspection and the services of an independent commercial importer to make sure the car meets U.S. standards.

Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provide information on importing vehicles and engines that may be useful when considering whether to import a vehicle or not.


Comply with US Car Import Laws

When importing cars, it's important to find a licensed customs broker who can help clear the cars through customs.

This includes modifications such as converting speedometers from kilometer to mile, modifications to headlights, reflectors, engines, and emissions, among other things.

Verify the Vehicle Passes U.S. Standards for Vehicle Importation

Importing a vehicle into the United States requires that it meet standards set by the Motor Vehicle Safety Act(1966), the Importing Vehicle Safety Compliance Act (1988), and the Clean Air Act (1990).

These laws are in place to ensure that Americans are getting quality cars that meet the USA's safety standards and the Environmental Protection Agency's emissions standards.

To import a vehicle, you must use an EPA-registered importer unless the vehicle is under 25 years old and falls under the "Show or Display Rule."

You must also report to U.S. Customs for clearance to import the vehicle and pay taxes and duties when applicable to bring it through customs.

Furthermore, your vehicle must pass an inspection by the Registry of Imported Vehicles (RIV) in Canada within 45 days, or one year if it is a salvage vehicle.

Vehicles from outside of North America must be inspected by an NHTSA department before they can be imported into the United States.

Show and Display Rule

The Show and Display Rule is an exemption to the EPA and NHTSA import regulations for vehicles that are over 25 years old.

With this rule, cars that are considered "rare" or "unique" can be brought into the U.S. without meeting all of the safety and emissions standards.

The vehicle must still pass a visual inspection by Customs, but it doesn't have to meet all of the other requirements.

Obtain the Documentation Required for Vehicle Importation

Importing a vehicle into the United States requires obtaining certain documentation before entering the country. This includes foreign registration or vehicle registration, a bill of sale, and proof of insurance.

Additionally, EPA Form 3520-1 and DOT Form HS-7 must be completed. The original bill of lading should also be ready for inspection.

In order to ensure that vehicles imported into the US comply with the correct regulations of safety, they must meet the requirements of several acts, including the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act(1972), the Motor Vehicle Safety Act(1966), the Importing Vehicle Safety Compliance Act (1988), and the Clean Air Act (1990).


Importing from European or Asian Countries

Importing cars from European countries is a popular choice for many car collectors. The process of importing a car from Europe requires the collector to fill out the necessary paperwork and abide by U.S. Show and Display laws.

An EPA-verified independent commercial importer is needed to gain a port of entry for the vehicle, which can be expensive, often costing between two and five thousand dollars on top of the car's market value.

Additionally, vehicles less than 25 years old require a bill of lading from the shipping company, an English translation of the export certificate, an English version of the invoice, and the original car title.

Furthermore,Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) regulations must be met in order to make Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) vehicles compliant with U.S. standards.

Overall, importing cars from Europe or Asia can be a tedious endeavor that calls for persistence and care. The specifics may differ for each country of origin.

However, for those who are enthusiastic about it and passionate about collecting cars, it is worth it.

With careful planning and research into all applicable laws and regulations, car collectors can successfully import their dream vehicle from Europe or Asia.

Is the Process for Importing New and Used Vehicles the Same?

Entering the United States with a new car is more difficult than entering with a used car. The paperwork and restrictions are increased when importing a new car, as different types of cars have different requirements for importation.

For example, vehicles 25 years old or older can be imported to the U.S. from Canada without any special modifications, while newer vehicles must be modified to meet federal motor vehicle safety standards (federalization).

Also, some newer vehicles may be able to be imported under the "Show or Display" category, but there are strict rules about how they can be used on public roads.

In general, it's easier to enter the country with a used vehicle than with a new one. Used cars don't need any special changes to be brought in, and it's usually not too hard to do so.

However, if you're looking to bring a new car into the U.S., you should be aware of all of the necessary paperwork and regulations that must be followed in order to do so successfully. Research all the requirements thoroughly.

What Are the Costs of Importing a Car to the United States?

Importing a car to the USA can be a complicated process, but it's possible, provided one is well-versed and well-prepared. There are a number of costs to consider when importing a vehicle.

Duty rates and fees apply to any foreign vehicle entering the US, with automobiles subject to a 2.5% fee, trucks 25%, and motorcycles up to 2.4%. U.S. citizens can bring their U.S.-registered vehicle back from a trip abroad without incurring any charges from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Duty fees and import duties can be more costly, however, so it is usually cheaper to import a car yourself than to pay a business to do it for you.

Before you try to import a car, you should find out about all the taxes and fees that apply. This will help you avoid any unexpected costs or delays in the process.

The 25-Year-Old Age Limit

The 25-year-old age limit is an important rule to consider when importing a vehicle into the United States.

Cars 25 years old or older can pass clearance from customs with no restrictions; however, states may require modifications, and safety-related adjustments may be needed before tagging and registering.

California has stricter emission requirements for cars manufactured after 1975, so do your research before importing a vehicle into this state.

Again, the Show and Display Rule does not apply to vehicles that are 25 years old or older, making it possible to import almost any vehicle into the United States once it reaches this age.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, so thoroughly familiarize yourself with the regulations before attempting to import a vehicle. Be aware of any state-specific regulations that may apply when registering and driving your imported car.


Final Thoughts

Importing a car can be a difficult process due to the various paperwork and restrictions. But it is possible to import your dream car if you know what to do and are well-prepared.

When you're ready to import the car you've been waiting for, A-1 Auto Transport is here for you. We have experience shipping all vehicle types, including classics.

Check out the rest of our website, browse our services, and get a free quote.

Share this content on social media for a chance to get up to 20% off your next shipment.
Copy link

Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

Email Me

Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.
★★★★★ choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

A1 Auto Transport... From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

Testimonial by Cristine Benoit
Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them... Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport.

David Osallo
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10!

We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

Visit our social, and see what our clients are saying about us:

Ship Your Vehicle With A-1 Auto Today
Get an instant free Quote Now

Or Call Us Today and Speak Directly to Our Sales Team:

Call Us 1-888-230-9116

Our Partners:

Better Business Bureau Accredited
FMCSA Member
INC. 500 Member
VeriSign Secured
AMSA Member

A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
Copyright © 1988-2024, A-1 Auto Transport - All Rights Reserved.