Whether you are a United States resident who found your dream car in another country, a military or civilian government employee who is headed home after being stationed internationally or a foreign national who will now live in the U.S., there are a list of regulations that you must meet in order to import a motor vehicle into the United States from overseas.
Before you can even think about shipping it, your car must conform to the current standards issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). These regulations are necessary because most vehicles manufactured abroad do not abide by the same bumper, safety and emission standards as those in the United States.
Although the EPA and the DOT standards are subject to change and you should always examine their current policies before attempting to import a car to the U.S. from overseas, these are the general regulations that you should know, especially about the shipping process.
The Steps to Importing a Vehicle from Overseas
Whatever your reason for wanting to import a vehicle from somewhere overseas, there are certain steps that you must follow in order to make your car’s entrance into the United States legally.
EPA and DOT Compliance
The two federal agencies that you must satisfy in order to successfully import your vehicle are the EPA and the DOT. If your vehicle is fewer than 25 years old, it will need to be thoroughly tested according to the EPA’s guidelines.
First, the vehicle’s emissions will be carefully measured as its wheels turn at driving speed and while the engine is running. This is done on a chassis dynamometer in order to simulate a drive of 10.5 miles in urban conditions. The EPA requires testing that includes fueling, starts and stops, accelerations and decelerations and periods of cruising and idling. These actions are simulated over an extended time period of 15-35 hours.