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Importing a Classic Car to America Tell the time anywhere in the world! Convert USD to any other currency! Locate a place anywhere in the world! See what others say about a business listed on this page - or post a testimonial of your own!

There are some great Classic cars that have turned up in Canada over the years, and many rarer examples of certain marques were exported in droves back in the boom of the early 90's. Now the tables are turning and people within the US (flushed with Internet riches) are looking abroad to find the cars of their dreams!
The law says: "any motor vehicle that is at least 25 years old" is not subject to importation restrictions. All vehicles less than 25 years old must be determined eligible for importation by one of the following methods before the vehicle may be imported under contract with a Registered Importer as described in the Vehicle Importation Guidelines.

Generally speaking, if the vehicle you are purchasing is a Classic Car for your personal use and
not for resale, you should have no real problems with importing and registering it in the States. However, if you are looking to import a late model exotic or specialty car, either for your personal use or with a view to possibly selling it on, you really ought give one of the 'Registered Importers' listed below a call to find out what's involved.

(Imported From Canada)

All passenger cars less than 25 years old imported for personal use (not resale) into the U.S. on a permanent basis from Canada should follow this procedure. This process may also be followed if a vehicle was originally imported from Canada on a temporary basis or if prior DOT or U.S. Customs clearance was not obtained.

Contact the manufacturer of the vehicle, and ask if the vehicle complies with all applicable U.S. Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS). The letter from the manufacturer must identify your vehicle by the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). READ THE LETTER CAREFULLY.

If the manufacturer letter states that the vehicle complies with U.S. FMVSS, except for minor labeling requirements, you have an acceptable letter. This letter along with your vehicle registration should be presented to U.S. Customs at the border. U.S. Customs will review the manufacturer letter to assure that the vehicle complies.

If the manufacturer letter states that the vehicle meets all U.S. FMVSS, except for the speedometer, or headlights, you may have these components replaced at a dealer authorized by the factory to repair your vehicle. In addition to the documents cited above, you must present the invoice for the speedometer or headlight replacement to obtain U.S. Customs approval.

If the manufacturer letter states that the vehicle meets all U.S. FMVSS except for FMVSS No. 208 (automatic or passive restraint requirements) you WILL NOT be able to bring your vehicle into the U.S. on a permanent basis unless it is modified by an RI. If an RI is willing to modify the vehicle, it may be expensive and may change your desire to import the vehicle.

If the manufacturer will not issue a letter for your vehicle, the only method to import your vehicle on a permanent basis is to contract with an RI.

EPA approval is also required. You may call the EPA information line at: (202) 564-9660.

(Imported from a country other than Canada)

The following provides information concerning the importation of a passenger car built to comply with the standards of a country other than the U.S. or Canada. Importers of motor vehicles must file form HS-7 (available at ports of entry) at the time a vehicle is imported to declare whether the vehicle complies with DOT requirements. As a general rule, a motor vehicle less than 25 years old must comply with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) to be imported permanently. Vehicles manufactured to meet the FMVSS will have a certification label affixed by the original manufacturer in the area of the driver-side door. To make importation easier, when purchasing a vehicle certified to the U.S. standards abroad, a buyer should have the sales contract verify that the label is attached and present this document at time of importation.

A vehicle without this certification label must be imported as a non-conforming vehicle. In this case, the importer must contract with a DOT-Registered Importer (RI) and post a DOT bond for one and a half times the vehicle's dutiable value. This bond is in addition to the normal Customs entry bond. Copies of the DOT bond and the contract with an RI must be attached to the HS-7 form.

Under the contract, the RI will modify and certify that the vehicle conforms with all applicable FMVSS. Before an RI can modify a vehicle NHTSA must have determined that the vehicle is capable of being modified to comply with the FMVSS. If no determination has been made, the RI must petition NHTSA to determine whether the vehicle is capable of being modified to comply with the FMVSS. If the petitioned vehicle is not similar to one sold in the U.S., this process becomes very complex and costly. A list of vehicles previously determined eligible for importation may be obtained from an RI or from the NHTSA web site.

Since the cost of modifying a non-conforming vehicle, or the time required to bring it into conformance, may affect the decision to purchase a vehicle abroad, it is recommended that you discuss these aspects with an RI before buying and shipping a vehicle to the U.S.

For federal regulations concerning vehicle emissions contact the Environmental Protection Agency, Manufacturers Operations Division, EN-340, 401 M Street SW, Washington, DC 20460, Tel: (202) 564-9660. Information concerning duty or other Customs matters can be obtained from the Classification and Value Division, U.S. Customs Service, Washington, DC 20229, Tel: (202) 927-0300, or http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/travel/auto.htm

For information regarding registration or operation of a properly imported vehicle in a specific state, we advise you to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or other appropriate agency in that state since the requirements vary by state.


As a general rule all motor vehicles imported into the United States that are less than 25 years old must comply with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS), or be brought into compliance with the FMVSS by a Registered Importer. The following temporary importations are exempt from this requirement and do not have to be modified to conform to the FMVSS. A form HS-7 (available at ports of entry) must be completed.


A vehicle registered in another country may be imported for personal use for a period not to exceed one year. The vehicle cannot be sold and it must be exported within one year from the date of entry. Your passport number and country of issue are required on the HS-7 form. Use Box 5 on HS-7 form.

The following firms have been approved as Registered Importers (RI) of non-conforming motor vehicles for 2000. You must remember an RI is an independent business and may be selective in the type of work they perform. All the RI's listed here will process passenger cars imported from Canada as well as vehicles imported from other countries.

Only an RI may import vehicles for resale. If you would like to bring vehicles into the US for resale you must become an RI. The responsibilities of an RI are defined in Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations Part 592, "Registered Importers of Vehicles Not Originally Manufactured to Conform to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards."

Registered Importers
Autosport Design
203 West Hills Road,
Huntington Station, New York, 11746 USA
Tel: 516 248 0066
Fax: 516 248 4422
Goto Website  Send E-mail
G & K Automotive Conversion
3231 South Standard Avenue
Santa Ana, CA 92705 USA
Tel: 714 545 9503
Fax: 714 545 7667
Goto Website  Send E-mail
Sunshine Car Import
745 NE 19th Place
Cape Coral, FL 33903
Tel: 941 458 1020
Fax: 941 458 4410
Goto Website Send E-mail
Wallace Environmental Test Lab
2140 Wirtcrest
Houston, TX 77055 USA
Tel: 713 956 7705
Fax: 713 956 0104
Goto Website
Wallace Environmental Test Lab
2140 Wirthcrest
Houston, TX 77055
Tel: 713 956 7705
Fax: 713 956 0104
Goto Website
Automotive Importers
1730 SouthFirst Street
Yakima, WA 98909
Tel: 509 248 4700
Fax: 707 839 1662
Goto Website

Northern California Diagnostic Lab
2748 Jefferson St.
Napa, CA 94558
Tel: 707 258 1611
Fax: 707 258
Goto Website

European Auto Repair Center
6845 SW 59th Place
Miami, FL
Tel: 305 661 2939
Fax: 305 662 2105
JK Technologies
3500 Sweet Air Street
Baltimore, MD 21211 USA
Tel: 410 366 6332
Fax: 410 366 7655
Western Cascade
12065 44th Place S.
Tukwila, WA 98178 USA
Tel: 206 243 2667
Fax: 206 767 2157
Black Shrine
1760 Monrovia Avenue, Unit C-12
Costa Mesa, CA 92627 USA
Tel: 949 515 8056
Fax: 949 515 8036
Potsdam Importers
7513 USH 11
Piotsdam, NY
Tel: 315 265 1850
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