You and Your Money
Importing a Motor Vehicle
Imported motor vehicles are subject to safety standards under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, revised under the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988; to bumper standards under the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act of 1972, which became effective in 1978; and to air pollution control standards under the Clean Air Act of 1968, as amended in 1977, and 1990.
If vehicles manufactured abroad conform to U.S. safety, bumper, and emission standards, it is because these vehicles are exported 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. Vehicles entering the United States that do not conform with U.S. safety standards must be brought into compliance, exported, or destroyed.
This pamphlet provides essential information for U.S. residents, military or civilian government employees, and foreign nationals who are importing a vehicle into the U.S. It includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requirements and those of other agencies whose regulations we enforce. Since Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements are subject to change, we recommend that you contact these agencies before buying a vehicle abroad.
Our pages Know Before You Go and For International Visitors contain general information for persons entering the U.S. You may obtain copies from your nearest CBP office or by writing to:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
P.O. Box 7407
Washington, D.C. 20044
It is also possible to obtain copies from American embassies and consulates abroad. ( Know Before You Go ) ( For International Visitors )
EPA has a detailed automotive fact manual describing emission requirements for imported vehicles. You may obtain a copy of this manual, called the Automotive Imports Facts Manual, or other information about importing motor vehicles by calling EPA’s Imports Hotline at (734) 214-4100. You may also communicate by fax at (734) 214-4676, or write to:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building, Manufacturer Operations Division (6405-J)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460