Should You Import A Car From Europe?

In the United States, we are all blessed with a wide range of different car models to choose from. For instance, if we want a tough and capable SUV, we might buy a Chevy Suburban. Or if we want to buy a British car, we might buy a Mini or Jaguar.

Of course, not all the world’s cars get sold in America. Some of us might have fallen in love with a certain sporty car from Europe. “No problem,” you might think. You could just import the car of your dreams, right? It turns out that importing cars into the USA isn’t as easy as some people care to think.


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Are you are thinking of buying a European import? Perhaps the car isn’t in the USA already? If that’s the case, here are some things that you ought to know about the process.

Classic cars (25 or more years old)

The good thing about classic cars that are more than 25 years old is that they are straightforward to import.

Dan from says that US federal rules state cars 25 or more years old are “classics.”

That means they don’t have to meet any emissions or safety standards from the DOT or the EPA. The only thing that would-be Euro car owners need to do is make sure the cars are roadworthy and that the headlights work.

You may think that this process is straightforward. But it is the customs officials that decide whether the car is a classic or not. If it’s a nice, restored example, they might think the car is newer than it claims to be.

The onus is on you to provide the necessary documents to prove the car you import is a classic. There have been many reports in the media on how customs seize “old” Land Rover Defenders from the UK. That is because they aren’t 25 years or older.

Another thing to bear in mind is that some states have certain rules about registering an imported car. They might ask you to modify some components before a title can get issued.

Newer cars

If you think that importing a classic car is tough, I don’t recommend importing a newer one!

The rules for importing newer cars into the United States are quite harsh, and border on impossible. It’s a shame, because our friends in the United Kingdom can import any cars they want! As long as they are roadworthy, they don’t mind what you buy!

Back in the good old US of A, any “newer” imports must meet DOT and EPA standards. A lot of European cars already in America, such as the Mini, are adapted for the American market.

If you import a Mini from the UK, and you make the same modifications, you should be good to go. But if you want to import a car that has never been sold in the USA, it’s game over.

I hope you have found this guide to importing European cars useful. Thanks for reading!

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Published on: September 5, 2014

Filled Under: Cars

Views: 4996

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