Importing a car from the EU to the US

Michael James

Importing a car from the Europea to the Unitrd States requires following a set of rules.


Moving or importing a vehicle to the United State from a country in the European Union requires knowledge of importing laws and patience.

Some brands can’t be purchased in the U.S. You’ll need to import them. Although the cars will have similar options and styles, you might prefer unique features in an EU model. To buy from the EU, you’ll need to make sure the process is done correctly.

Importing a car from the Europea to the Unitrd States requires following a set of rules.
Importing a car from the European Union to the United States requires following a set of rules. Image courtesy of Bradley Dunn on Unsplash.

Car and Emissions

If you’re researching how to import a car from the EU, you’ll likely already found a make and model you like. But if you haven’t, spend time to consider all options and determine the vehicles that can’t be purchased in the U.S.

Once you have a car in mind, you will need to check it against the local U.S. emissions laws. As well as the car’s own emissions rating.


This can be difficult because you aren’t there in person to negotiate and perhaps get extras. That doesn’t mean you can be firm and still get a great deal. It might just take more phone calls. It may also require contacting the manufacturer directly.

If you are buying a classic car, you should consider hiring someone to inspect its condition before the purchase and arranging the shipping.

Following Guidelines Car Importing Requires Patience

When working directly with a manufacturer, you can usually get them to handle shipping procedures. However, check your options with companies that specialize in car relocation like CarsRelo.

Always keep in mind you want to negotiate the price of the vehicle. It can save thousands of dollars.


Getting your car from A to B isn’t as difficult as you think, but it will require a specialist. Hiring a car shipping company is one of the ways to ensure your car reaches you in time, in perfect condition and with paperwork complete.

A professional car shipping service will be able to ensure you have the paperwork in order. The paperwork for shipping a car is precise and is a key factor in ensuring your car is properly prepared for delivery.


There is specific paperwork that you will need to fill out. This paperwork will depend on the country you are buying the car from, the type of car, export papers and taxes You should expect to pay import fees, storage fees, as well as a professional car shipping service.

What about importing classic cars to the U.S.?

If you are a classic car collector, then you will be curious to see if anything changes when you are importing a classic car. Car lovers have found themselves paying the price tag for the rare classic car but forgetting the step of importing the car to the USA.

Any car imported to the USA will need to have its bumper, safety standards, and emissions confirmed before it can be used in the U.S.

For a classic car, you will need U.S EPA form 3520-1, U.S DOT form HS-7, DOT Registered Importer (RI) contract (when required), money to pay for the duty taxes.


Make certain the car you want can be imported into the U.S. Some classics are not eligible for import. If the vehicle that you want isn’t currently available for import, you’ll be required to use a DOT registered importer.

A DOT registered importer will perform all of the modifications to the car to ensure it meets the safety standards required. This will include bumper, safety and emissions standards.

This service might seem expensive, but it’s required to import the car.

Check the list here: NHTSA list of approved vehicles.


The car will need to have a deep clean. The undercarriage of the car will need to be steam-washed. It will prevent insects, soil or other foreign matter from entering the U.S. Have a reputable do the job keep work receipts and a communications log.


When the vehicle arrives, you will need to present all of the documents, with the EPA form 3520-1 to U.S. Customs. You will then also pay fees and duty taxes. Duty is usually 2.5 percent of the purchase price.

Standards and Taxes

Several African, Middle East, Central American countries and Cuba don’t allow car imports. The OFAC has a current list of restrictions.

If the car does not meet the emission requirements, it will need to be imported through an Independent Commercial Importer (ICI). It will be responsible for ensuring the vehicle is modified and meets requirements required by U.S. import laws.

The EPA will not sign off on the release of a vehicle until the work has been completed.

Importing a car is an exciting journey, but there are many bottleneck moments where you’ll need to wait, fill in the forms, and be patient. In the end, if you follow all of the guidelines from the relevant bodies, you will have a car imported smoothly.

Try to only work with companies that have long and easy-to-find reviews. Or work with manufacturers directly or people you know. It’s the easiest way to avoid scams while importing the car of your dreams.

Article Last Updated: November 30, 2020.

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