Importing a Vehicle into the United States

Whether you are starting a car importing business or simply considering the possibility of importing cars for personal use, you need to be very skeptical of your foreign car dealer or private seller when you are trying to determine if the vehicle meets USA standards or whether their claims that it can easily be brought into compliance are based on facts or their eagerness to sell you their vehicle.

Duties must be paid upon entry:

Used or new and either for resale or personal use, a foreign manufactured vehicle imported into the United States generally requires duties and the following rates (subject to change):

  • Auto - 2.5%
  • Trucks - 25%
  • Motorcycles - either free or 2.4%

Duties are based on the vehicle price you paid or which is payable. Most Canadian manufactured vehicles may enter free of duties. Returning USA residents may apply their $400.00 Customs exemption along with any accompanying family members exemption toward the value of their vehicle if:

  • Vehicle accompanies you on your return trip.
  • The vehicle is being imported for your personal use.
  • You acquired the vehicle on the journey you are returning from.


Both the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency 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, under Federal Regulations 49 CFR parts 591 through 594, effective January 31, 1990, some vehicle models are prohibited from importation. It is highly recommended that these prohibitions and modifications be investigate before a vehicle is purchased for importation into the United States.

You can find the list of Registered Importers at the following site:
List of Registered Importers

A list of Nonconforming Motor Vehicles that are eligible for Importation (By or through a Registered Importer:

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