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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone here know what the

Does anyone here know what the restrictions are on importing a foreign vehicle greater than 25 yrs old into the U.S.? I know that they will not have to conform to U.S. emissions standards, and am fairly certain they will not have to conform to U.S. safety standards. Reason for asking is I am interested in looking into the possibility of a 308 GT4, Euro spec, as I like the idea of better performance/cleaner look of the bumpers. Other than duty taxes, I am not sure what else would be involved. Or are Euro spec GT4's not worth bringing over, i.e. the relatively low cost of available U.S. spec cars that could have emissions removed and bumper's modified (I have seen where owners drill their bumper shocks and push them in)? Any experience/knowledge would be helpful.

Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Imported motor vehicles are su

Imported motor vehicles are subject to U.S. safety standards, bumper standards, and air pollution control (emission) standards. Most vehicles manufactured abroad that conform with U.S. safety, bumper, and emission standards are exported expressly for sale in the United States; therefore, it is unlikely that a vehicle obtained abroad meets all relevant standards. Be skeptical of claims by a foreign dealer or other seller that a vehicle meets these standards or can readily be brought into compliance. Nonconforming vehicles entering the United States must be brought into compliance, exported, or destroyed.

The owner must make arrangements for shipping a vehicle. Have your shipper or carrier notify you of the vehicle's arrival date so that Customs can clear it. Shipments are cleared at the first port of entry unless you arrange for a freight forwarder abroad to have the vehicle sent in bond to a Customs port more convenient to you.

Customs officers are prohibited by law from acting as agents or making entries for an importer. However, you may employ a commercial customs broker to handle your entry.

For Customs clearance you will need the shipper's or carrier's original bill of lading, the bill of sale, foreign registration, and any other documents covering the vehicle. You will also need written prior approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will be evident to the Customs inspector at the port of entry in the form of an approval letter from the EPA, or a manufacturer's label in the English language affixed to the car, stating that the vehicle meets all U.S. emission requirements.

Or, you may make arrangements to import your vehicle with an Independent Commercial Importer (ICI). In this case, the ICI will import your vehicle and perform any EPA-required modifications and be responsible for assuring that all EPA requirements have been met. ICIs can only import certain vehicles, however, and in general, their fees are very high.

To safeguard against importation of dangerous pests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the undercarriage of imported cars be free of foreign soil. Have your car steam-sprayed or cleaned thoroughly before shipment.

Motor vehicles not more than 25 years old must conform to the Department of Transportation (DOT) motor vehicle safety standards that were in effect when these vehicles were manufactured. Passenger cars manufactured after September 1, 1973 must also meet bumper standards. The importer must file form DOT HS-7 (this link is a .pdf file; click here for free download software) at the time of entry, indicating whether the vehicle conforms to applicable safety and bumper standards. The original manufacturer is required to affix a label to the vehicle certifying that these standards have been met if the vehicle is intended for sale in the United States. Vehicles that do not bear a certification label attached by the original manufacturer must be entered as a nonconforming vehicle under a DOT bond for one and a half times the vehicle's dutiable value. This is in addition to the regular Customs entry bond.

Unless specifically excepted, the importer must sign a contract with a DOT Registered Importer (RI), who will modify the vehicle to conform with all applicable safety and bumper standards and who can certify the modifications. A copy of the RI's contract must be attached to the DOT HS-7 form and furnished to the Customs Service with the DOT bond at the port of entry. A list of RIs is available from DOT and should be obtained before you decide to import a vehicle. Furthermore, DOT requires that the vehicle model and model year must, prior to entry, be determined eligible for importation. A DOT RI can advise you whether your vehicle is eligible; if it is not, the RI can submit a petition in your behalf to have your vehicle considered for eligibility, if you so desire. Understand, however, that fees must be paid at the time such petitions are filed.

Certain imported automobiles may be subject to the "gas-guzzler" tax. The amount of the tax is based on a combined urban/highway fuel-economy (miles per gallon) rating assigned by the EPA for gas-guzzler tax purposes. This EPA rating may be different from fuel-economy ratings indicated by the manufacturer.

If the EPA has not assigned a gas-guzzler fuel-economy rating for the model automobile you import, a rating must be independently determined. No tax is imposed on automobiles that have a combined fuel-economy rating of at least 22.5 miles per gallon.

The following passenger cars, light-duty trucks, heavy-duty engines and motorcycles are subject to Federal emission standards:

Gasoline-fueled cars and light-duty trucks originally manufactured after December 31, 1967.

Diesel-fueled cars originally manufactured after December 31, 1974.

Diesel-fueled light-duty trucks originally manufactured after December 31, 1975.

Heavy-duty engines originally manufactured after December 31, 1969.

Motorcycles with a displacement of more than 49 cubic centimeters originally manufactured after December 31, 1977.

Beginning with the 1974 model year, vehicles that were originally manufactured to meet U.S. emission requirements, if driven outside the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Taiwan or the Bahama Islands, may be required to have their oxygen sensor and/or catalytic converter replaced. You may import your U.S.-version vehicle under a Customs bond and have any qualified mechanic perform the necessary work. You should contact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) directly for detailed requirements and options before shipping your vehicle.

Nonconforming vehicles must be imported for you by a currently certified Independent Commercial Importer (ICI), a list of which is available from the EPA. This list should be obtained before you decide to import a car. The ICI will be responsible for assuring that your car complies with all U.S. emission requirements. (As of July 1, 1988, EPA no longer has the one-time exemption for vehicles five or more model-years old.) Be aware that EPA will deny entry to certain makes, models, and model years if an ICI is not certified or is unwilling to accept responsibility for the vehicle(s) in question.

Both the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise that although a nonconforming car may be conditionally admitted, the modifications required to bring it into compliance may be so extensive and costly that it may be impractical and even impossible to achieve such compliance. Moreover, some vehicle models are prohibited from importation. It is highly recommended that these prohibitions and modifications be investigated before a vehicle is purchased for importation.


You could just but one already in the U.S.

Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I disagree with the previous p

I disagree with the previous post regarding posting a bond and needing to make modifications to the vehicle on older than 25 year old vehicles. I was interested in importing such a vehicle in 2000, did my research by talking to Dick Merritt at the US Dept. of Transportation, and no such requirement then existed on these vehicles. You should contact the US DOT to get the precise rules, but it is my belief that you will only have to worry about proving the age and paying a 2.5% customs fee.

Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You can disagree all you want.

You can disagree all you want...

What I posted was from United States Customs Service - Office of Field Operations Trade Compliance - Import Operations - Commercial Enforcement Law.

Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have researched both the DOT

I have researched both the DOT and EPA websites and printed out the applicable forms for importation. The DOT form has a specific exemption for vehicles 25 or more years old and the EPA form has a specific exemption for vehicles 21 or more years old. This is not inconsistent with the the posting of Mr. Jones. My recommendation is to contact the DOT and EPA (or an authorized importer) and verify. It is still my belief that you can import a car that is 25 or more years old with only a 2.5% import fee and documentation of age.

Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the input. I too h

Thanks for the input. I too had looked at the DOT and EPA websites. I felt pretty comfortable with the emissions not being on issue on an 25 yr old car, as I know cars built in the states do not have to comply with current standards if they are older than 25 yrs (at least here in Texas). I thought I found something buried in the DOT website about not having to worry about crash safety either if the car was 25+ old, but it wasn't very clear or in bold print jumping out at me. I guess best way to find out is to call DOT/EPA.

Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This is the kind of look I am

This is the kind of look I am going is in Germany. Not ready to buy yet, still working towards the dream.
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