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What are the requirements for importing a vehicle or vehicle parts?

Before you decide to import a vehicle or vehicle parts into the United States, you should ensure that they conform to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. These agencies have very detailed requirements that can make importing a vehicle and or its parts difficult, if not impossible, for some vehicles that were not originally manufactured for the U.S. market.

Nonconforming vehicles less than 25 years old entering the United States must be brought into compliance, exported, or destroyed.

Vehicles over 25 years old are exempt from EPA and DOT requirements, although you will still need to obtain and prepare EPA and DOT paperwork to provide to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer in order to clear your vehicle through CBP.

From a CBP standpoint, you must file an entry on the vehicle. At the port of entry, CBP will complete and provide you with CBP Form 7501 which serves as evidence of the import processing by CBP. Filing an entry is initiated by declaring the vehicle and or its parts to a CBP officer when you enter the U.S. If your paperwork is in order, the officer will help you file the entry at the border. If you are not prepared, the officer may advise you to file the entry at a CBP port near your residence - however, in many cases the closest port could be 1-3 hours from your home, so it is in your best interest to be prepared to file the entry when you initially bring the vehicle into the U.S.

Without a copy of the CBP entry form, you will not be able to register the vehicle in the U.S.

Prior to filing your entry with CBP:

-Ensure you have valid proof of ownership, which is an original certificate of title, or a certified copy of the original. Vehicle Parts will require a receipt for purchase.

-Manufacturer's letter/certificate, stating that the vehicle conforms to EPA and DOT standards. Vehicle parts must also be conformed to U.S. Standards depending on the part being imported. (For example: Engine must meet EPA and a Fender must meet DOT standards)

-Completed EPA form 3520-1 and DOT form HS-7. Vehicle parts will depend on the part being imported to the U.S.

Note: If the vehicle has stickers on the engine (EPA) and inside the drivers-side door (DOT) stating that the car was manufactured to U.S. standards, you will not need a manufacturers letter. Some vehicles are listed by make, model, and year on the DOT and EPA web sites as conforming. If your vehicle is one of those, that would also negate the need for a manufacturers' letter

If the vehicle has not been in your household for at least one year, you will be required to pay 2.5% duty, which is assessed based on the purchase price or blue book value.

It is illegal to bring a car into the U.S. and sell it without first entering it through CBP. If you purchase a vehicle that was brought into the U.S. and sold without being properly entered through CBP, that vehicle is subject to seizure.

NEVER purchase a used vehicle in the U.S. if the owner cannot show that it is currently registered in the U.S. and demonstrate that it conforms to DOT and EPA standards.

If purchasing a vehicle from a dealer, they should handle registration for you, if they don't, the purchase should be contingent on your successful registration of the vehicle. (We get many calls from people who unwittingly purchased a vehicle that had been brought into the U.S. and then illegally sold- Buyer beware.)

The EPA has a detailed automotive facts manual describing emission requirements for imported vehicles. You can get a copy of the manual, entitled "The Automotive Imports Facts Manual" (order #EPA420B94006) or other information about importing motor vehicles by calling the EPA import hotline at (734) 214-4100 or in writing to:

Environmental Protection Agency

Box -J Investigation/Imports Section

Washington, D.C. 20460

For additional information on how to bring a vehicle or vehicle parts into the U.S. for personal use, please reference our brochure, "Importing a Vehicle."

If you intend to import for resale, you should read our publication entitled "Importing Into the United States".

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