As you might already know, there are numerous cars that simply never made it into the United States. Examples of such cars include the Renault Clio R.S., Noble M600, and the Volkswagen Scirocco R. While reasons can vary, typically, vehicles are not imported into the US because they do not meet safety or emissions standards.

So, you may be asking yourself, “why don’t people just import one if they want one so bad?”. While this does sound like a great idea, there is a tiny little thing that will get in the way called the 25 Year Rule. As mentioned earlier, the US has guidelines that must be followed if you want to sell a car here. Therefore, in order to get such a car, you’re going to have to wait 25 years before you can import the now, classic car.

So, let’s say you want a 1996 Nissan Skyline. You then decide to hop onto a Japanese auction site a start perusing the list for your dream car. Amazingly enough, you find it, and everything about it is perfect. The price, color, and condition are exactly what you wanted. It has been 25 years, so you decide to go for it. Easy right?

Unfortunately, there is quite a bit more to the process than just simply purchasing a car online and having it shipped to you. Additionally, there are quite a few financial pitfalls and risks associated with such transactions. Therefore, before you get into such a venture, you should look into some of the situations that you might encounter.

Let’s take a look at the process behind importing a car into the US.

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Select Your Vehicle And Negotiate

Old Skyline

Via: Wikimedia Commons

Depending upon your location, you may be able to import any vehicle that is 25 years of age. This means that the emission/safety requirements won’t apply to that vehicle. However, for those of you that live in Hawaii or California, the narrative changes. Sadly, these states require that all imported vehicles be brought up to today’s requirements. As you can imagine, you’re going to pay much more money to make this happen.

For argument’s sake, we are just going to focus on how you’d go about this process in the other 48 states. In order to get this process started, you must first choose a car. In order to do this, you’ll need to find either a dealer or an auction that will be willing to work with you. Once you have chosen the car and negotiated a price, you can work on getting the vehicle to the States.

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You’ll Need To Get It To A Shipping Yard

Port Containers

Via: Pixabay

Getting the car to an overseas shipping dock is the first task. Before the car can even be put on a boat, a number of forms, fees, and checks must be completed. Specifics will largely depend upon the country in which you are receiving the vehicle from, as there are some standard procedures that must be completed. This includes being processed through customs and being packaged properly.

You’ll likely need to hire a shipping company to handle all of this stuff on your behalf. It won’t be cheap, but you’ll be happy that you don’t have to deal with all this stuff on your own. You might even be able to have the business you bought the car from handle all of this for you. Oftentimes, companies that regularly deal with selling cars to overseas buyers are well versed when it comes to these processes.

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Finally, There Are Some Extra Fees And Paper Work You’ll Have To Deal With

pile of paper

Via: Flickr

According to the US Customs and Border Patrol’s (CBP) website, there are a few things you’re going to have to do while the vehicle is in transit. First, you’re going to have to let them know when the vehicle is expected to hit US shores. Next, you’re going to need the shipping company to give you the original bill of lading, the bill of sale, and the foreign registration. This will all be used to ensure that you are legally receiving this car from the seller.

Once the car has arrived, you’ll have to once again speak with customs. At this meeting, you’re going to need to pay any outstanding duties/taxes on the vehicle. Passenger vehicles have a 2.5% duty fee, while motorcycles are a maximum of 2.4%.

At this point, CBP will want to know the emission/safety ratings on the vehicle. As mentioned beforehand, as long as it’s over 25 years old, it does not matter if it’s within regulation. Thankfully, once you have completed these tasks and filled out any other required paperwork, the car is yours to take home.

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Or, You Could Simply Hire An Official Importer To Do Everything For You

While all of this appears to be rather straight-forward, the fact is that it’s expensive and can be extremely stressful. Finding a car from a reputable dealer and ensuring that all your ducks are in a row before you even get the car can be quite the headache. You have to remember that you are purchasing a 25-year-old multi-thousand-dollar item from a stranger. You don’t even know if the thing runs before you get it!

Therefore, if all of this worries you, you’ll be happy to know that there are a number of companies in the US that will gladly handle all of these problems for you. They’ll find you a good car, handle all foreign affairs, and deal with CBP and shipping on your behalf. For most people who want to import a car, this is probably the most realistic path.

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