Are import cars illegal?

Automobile manufacturers use two common expressions. One is an import car, and the other is a domestic car. U.S. car importers refer to automobiles made outside the United States as “import cars” and automobiles made in the United States as “domestic cars.”. Car importers should be aware of the regulations in their countries. There are some import cars that are illegal in the United States and Canada. In this article, we will talk about some of these illegal import cars.

Are imported automobiles cheap or expensive? 

These days, imported cars are common, and several car importers are available in the U.S. and Canada. So if you’re looking for a particular classic or a vintage auto, car import to Canada or U.S. might be your best option. But keep in mind that if you decide to do this on your own, you may end up losing a lot of money.

The idea of importing cars from Japan is a good one. Two components are vital for auto importers, and they have to consider these elements when importing cars. These are the history of the vehicle and its mechanical inspection. Due to the complexity of the import process, care and attention must be taken. This level of care can only be handled by licensed auto importers who have extensive knowledge of international laws.

Legal and illegal import cars 

There are some import cars that are legal, and there are some that are illegal. For instance, RX7 is an illicit car import in the United States due to its configuration for left-hand driving, which is not legal in the U.S. Some other cars are legal for car importers. Subaru Forester, Kia Soul, and Nissan Rogue are some legal ones. Then, the answer to “Are import cars illegal?” is both yes and no. Some import cars are permitted, and some are illegal, and it depends entirely on the vehicle.

What you need to know about foreign cars 

Different parts of a foreign car are made outside your country, and the components are also assembled outside. Many of these cars are costlier than cars made in the U.S. and Canada. Auto importers face more costs in importing assembled cars than importing the parts and assembling them locally. Japanese cars are the cheapest foreign cars with competitive prices globally. It is due to the economy of scale permitted in Japan. Some Japanese automobiles are expensive, though, because there’s a massive demand for them.

The insurance of import cars 

These cars usually cost more to insure because they pose more risks for insurers. The more powerful engines of these cars make them more expensive to fix than regular automobiles. The insurers then charge higher rates or refuse to cover some of these vehicles, which is problematic. But this doesn’t mean that you should skip it. Bidbuy Importers will make sure your import is probably insured to be shipped overseas. This will include marine insurance and all the other ones that come with our vehicle transport services

Is it expensive to import a car?

The foreign-made autos imported to the United States are dutiable whether it is used or new. You need to pay 2.5% for an automobile, 2.4% for a motor bicycle, and around 25% for a truck. In case you leave this to professional auto importers, getting your dream car at a reasonable price will be easy. But this time-consuming process will drain all your cash if you decide to do it yourself if you decide to do it by yourself.

Some banned cars in the United States 

Alfa Romeo 8C Spider Roadster is a banned car for auto importers. Because of its speed and power, it is not suitable for American roads and can be dangerous. President Trump also excluded all the V8 Engines that have more than a camshaft. According to this law, all the manufacturers in the country must produce single cam engines and switch to this sort of manufacturing.

A general rule for U.S. car importers 

Autos that are less than 25 years old must meet all the standard safety requirements for lifelong imports. This rule prevents the import of low-quality cars which do not meet safety standards and expectations.

What about state laws?

Everything was good until the summer of 2021 when Maine and Rhode took back some import registrations due to the guidelines provided by AAMVA. Legislation or modifications cannot be made by this lobbying group. The group consists merely of administrators who implement the law, with a representative from each state.

Standardization of the laws concerning auto import and use is their main goal. Maine and Rhode Island were the first states that made some Japanese car imports illegal. Maine explains that the legality change is due to FMVSS rules, and the banned cars don’t meet the standards and expectations of off-road driving. The answer is not convincing for people, though.

an auto imported by car importers company In & Near Blaine, WA and Vancouver, BC

Rhode Island, for example, provides no clarification on the subject. There are several letters and requests related to the case that go unanswered. The only answer of the state is AAMVA recommendations. The AAMVA claims that the banned Japanese cars are unwanted in Japan, and they don’t meet the safety expectations. Countries constantly update their standards, and critics believe we can’t ban all old cars according to new criteria. The AAMVA recommend the other states change their laws regarding the legality of some cars like off-road ones. It’ll make the situation harder for car importers.

Are import cars legal in Canada? 

For Auto import to Canada, the car must meet the recommendations of CSBA and other agencies like Transport Canada. Auto importers can permanently import cars from countries other than the U.S. to Canada. But you have to register and insure the automobile. Only US autos less than 15 years old can be imported to Canada. 

How much does it cost?

Auto import to Canada or U.S. can cost between $2,500 and $5,000. That’s in addition to the car’s price! These factors include the year, make, model, and the law of the country the car is coming from and where it is arriving in. Of course, it could cost much more if you decide to do this by yourself. For instance, if customs pulls your container for inspection, you will be responsible for paying any inspection fees. 

Closing thoughts 

Laws and regulations about importing cars change very rapidly. It would be best if you leave this to a licensed auto importer. Car importers know how to deal with all the government agencies in both countries. 

We are one of the licensed U.S. car importers based in Blaine, Washington, and can get your dream car easily. You can count on us to handle all foreign affairs, the CBP, insurance, and shipping. Working with licensed car importers is probably the most realistic path for most people who want to import a car. 

Would you like to know whether it is legal to import your dream to the U.S. or Canada? Contact us to get your answer. Call now at +1-844-505-1555!

If this post was helpful to you, please leave us a 5star review. It would help our business a lot. Thanks!

How do I import a car less than 25 years old?

We don’t have super-cool cars like the Audi RS3, Ford Focus RS, or Lancia Ypsilon on the streets of the US Manufacturers you see every day, such as Honda, Volkswagen, and Subaru, all have models available only in Europe and Asia. You want one, but you can’t just go to the dealer and sign the papers.

This is where vehicle transport services come into play. Right-hand drive cars can be had for an affordable price, but you need to navigate the US’s import laws first. Before anything else, make sure you do it legally. Illegal imports will be crushed, and this is not a great sight to see.

The answer all depends on the vehicle’s age. How old is your dream car is the first question professional auto importers ask. Let’s dive in and see how age can be the main issue for auto import to Canada and US.

The 25-Year Rule

The most important thing you need to know if you’re looking to take a car to the US – whether you’re moving there yourself and bringing your car with you or whether you’re a US resident trying to find the model and year of your dream car in Europe – is what’s known as “the 25-year rule.”

The law in question determines whether or not the car can be imported legally into the United States. You may find your beloved ride is heading to the wrecker’s yard if you violate this law! This is why we always recommend working with licensed car importers in &  near Vancouver, BC, and Blaine, WA who know all about the import laws.

Is your dream car Compliant?

At the end of the day, the United States just wants imported vehicles to comply with current vehicle rules and regulations. This refers to passing a modern inspection test, which includes all the bells and whistles for safety and emissions.

Of course, this is not simple for a nonprofessional. Foreign vehicles manufactured under different regulations and rules from those in the US are considered non-conforming: They were manufactured under a totally different set of rules and regulations. Imagine you are a car manufacturer here in the US – you have to go through the same process they do, all for your imported car.

But Is it really for our safety?

Laws protect us from harm. We trust our authorities to do what is best for us. There are also statutes such as the infamous 25 Year Import Rule that make one wonder… for whom are they working?

On the surface, this law seems reasonable. They obviously want road users to be safe and secure. But that’s not what the 25-Year Rule is really about. Contrary to popular belief, it has never been about safety.

As a matter of fact, they created this rule to protect the interests of the automakers, and they subsequently crushed some beautiful cars along the way. They have destroyed everything from a classic Land Rover Defender to a Mini Cooper with falsified information and shared the videos with the world to serve as a warning about what happens when you try to bring a car to the country when it is not allowed.

It’s all for safety’s sake, right?

The Defender and Mini Cooper, for example, came with a modern safety technology that made it more than roadworthy. But no, based on this rule, it would be much better to drive a “classic” 25-year-old vehicle instead, which might not have this technology.

a blue car less than 25 years old in Vancouver, BC, and Blaine, WA

Is there a way around the 25-year rule?

A car that would otherwise be ineligible for import into the USA can still be legally imported under certain circumstances. Newer vehicles can be imported into the country using what’s known as ‘Registered Car Importers,’ while others may qualify under the ‘Show & Display’ rule. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Registered Importers

As part of the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988, the Registered Importer program was established in 1990. Essentially, Registered US Car Importers have been approved by the state as being capable of making the necessary modifications to bring an overseas-built vehicle up to the safety standards required by the Act.

If It is the primary route, you should look at if you want to bring a car that is less than 25 years old into the USA. Bidbuy Importers is one of the licensed auto importers located in Vancouver, BC, and Blaine, WA, and is ready to bring your dream car home. We can make the necessary modifications, so your car meets the DOT safety and emissions standards.

It is also important to note that while auto importers are state-certified to do such work, this is not a blanket import license. Each car will still have to be submitted to the Department of Transportation for inspection, and if a particular vehicle fails that inspection, you will be liable for the cost of the repairs – as well as the cost of reimporting the vehicle.

Additionally, there are many cars that are simply not eligible for auto import to Canada and the US, even with the assistance of car importers. In some cases, for example, you may be able to import a sedan version of a car but not a convertible, or you may only be able to import a 3.5L model, not a 5L. You can find a full list of vehicles that are prohibited from US roads – until they are 25 years old – on the NHTSA website

Show & Display

According to the 1988 Act, amendments to it in 1998 allowed foreign cars over 25 years old to be sold on US soil. In 1999, a further amendment to the law allowed the importation of cars that were considered to be historically or technologically significant. We call this the ‘Show & Display rule.’

In order to qualify for this exemption, no more than 500 cars of that model must exist. In addition, the owner must be able to prove (through annual and/or spot-check mileage inspections) that the vehicle has driven no more than 2,500 miles in any given year if the vehicle is to be registered for use on public highways.

In practice, this means that, at last count, there are 65 specific vehicles – mostly sports cars and luxury tourers – that can be imported to be displayed at car shows or to be kept in private garages but not to be driven on a daily basis.

Work with US car importers

Do you want to have an exceptional experience when you buy and own your dream car? You have come to the right place. When it comes to auto-import to Canada and the US, our Auto Importers ensure that you get a stress-free experience throughout the process. Thanks to our extensive knowledge, we are capable of handling any auto importing process. Whether you want to import a car to the Us or need snowbird car transport Canada, we have the answer. Trust us and get the car keys at your front door without worrying about any laws or restrictions. Get in touch with Bidbuy Importers In & Near Vancouver, BC, and Blaine, WA for a free estimate. Call now at +1-844-505-1555!

If this post was helpful to you, please leave us a 5star review. It would help our business a lot. Thanks!

Do I have to pay taxes twice if I buy a car out of state?

Most states in the U.S. impose a sales tax when you buy a new vehicle. However, each state has its own sales tax laws. You may be worried about getting taxed twice or not knowing when and where to pay your vehicle sales tax.

Good news: you’ll only need to pay taxes once when you register the car, and the seller may have already collected and handled the taxes. In any case, when you go to register your vehicle and pay other fees, you can easily pay your taxes at your local motor vehicle department.

But before you buy a car across state lines, make sure you know how to pay the state sales tax properly to avoid penalties and a tax evasion fine. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. This article discusses buying a car across state lines and where you pay the sales tax. And if you want to buy a car overseas or need vehicle transport services, why not trust one of the licensed auto importers?

Why buy a Car Out of State

A dealer or owner in another state might be a good option if you are looking for a vintage or rare model, cannot find the features you want at a local seller, or have found a great deal from another seller. For example, different states may value vehicles differently, and the cost also goes up and down depending on regional supply and demand. There are also many benefits to buying a vehicle overseas, and that’s when car importers can be of help. These factors should be weighed against the challenges associated with purchasing an out-of-state vehicle, such as transportation, insurance, inspections, and registration.

Buying a Car Out of StateCar importers

A dealership from another state may be authorized to collect state sales taxes and send them to your state along with your title and registration papers. Ask the dealer so that you’ll be prepared to pay the amount when you register the car if the dealer cannot pick it up.

Your vehicle’s purchase price will include the tax amount, and any sales tax collected should appear on your bill of sale. This may not mean you have completely met your tax obligations since you may still need to pay local sales taxes in your county when you register the car. You may, however, receive a credit from your state if the dealer calculated higher taxes than you owe.

Whether you buy a car online or in person, you will need to handle taxes, fees, and registration on your own since the individual will not have the authority to do these things. Your state will be able to calculate taxes due properly if the seller provides a bill of sale with the purchase price. You can potentially get a tax exemption if you purchase from an out-of-state family member, although you may need to pay a small fee.

What steps should you take?

The process can be tricky, and complications may come up along the way. Working with professional car importers will save you from the hassle of a paperwork-filled process. If you decide to do it on your own, here’s a breakdown of what you should do: 

Getting a vehicle history report

Get a vehicle history report for the car you plan to purchase. In this report, you will learn about red flags that could keep you from buying the car or negatively affect your negotiations. For instance, if the car title has liens, you should pay them before transporting the vehicle back to your home state. You may be held liable for these liens if you fail to do so.

Having an inspection

When buying a used car out of state, have it thoroughly inspected by a mechanic. Select an independent professional rather than one recommended or employed by the dealership. You may ask your local mechanic to handle it if the car is several states away and you cannot travel there.

Paying sales tax

Use vehicle transport services to get your car back home. Your state requires you to pay sales tax on the vehicle once you get it there. Licensed auto importers, tax professionals, or your local department of motor vehicles can typically provide guidance on this issue.

Obtaining required safety and emissions test resultscar importation

You can also find information on the required inspection tests for your new car at your state’s department of motor vehicles. Depending on state laws, these may include odometer, emissions, and/or safety inspections. You must bring your inspection certification, the sales paperwork, a photo I.D., and proof of address to the DMV after the vehicle has been inspected. These documents will allow you to register and title the vehicle.

Registering the car

Find out how long it takes to register the car in a new state. This step must be completed within 30 days of the purchase, or you may be fined. U.S. car importers may assist you with completing the registration paperwork. You may also need to submit a verification form of vehicle identification number (VIN). Your home state can verify that the vehicle is not stolen using this document.

If If you need a salvage title or another type of non-standard title for the vehicle, check the requirements in your state before finalizing the purchase. Title costs and the amount of time you have after the purchase to obtain the title also differ by state.

Ensuring the car

Your auto insurance policy determines whether you need coverage for a new vehicle before purchasing it or after. Most insurers provide coverage for new auto purchases for a certain period before adding the vehicle to your policy. If your policy doesn’t include this provision, you will need to get it right away. Furthermore, if you are taking out a loan to buy a car, your lender may have specific insurance requirements before your loan can be funded.

The process can be best done by auto importers who know the ins and outs of import laws. Now that we know how it works let’s see how much sales tax you should pay.

Determining Your Vehicle’s Sales Tax

To find out what you owe in cases where you must pay the vehicle sales tax yourself, visit your state’s government website that handles vehicle registration – usually the department of revenue or motor vehicles – for details about state and local tax rates. And if you’re working with licensed car importers, fear not since they will handle this. Taxes are calculated based on your car’s purchase price or value, but the actual rate can vary based on factors such as whether the car is new or used, whether you are a new resident and which county you live in.

Vehicle sales taxes are usually between 1.5 percent and 8 percent, and a minimum charge may apply. However, some states like Alaska, New Hampshire, and Delaware don’t charge sales tax on car purchases in general, while Oregon charges a small use tax just when you buy a car out of state. In addition to any state sales tax, you’ll need to add the county portion, if applicable, to know how much to bring for registration.

Remember that you can usually deduct any rebate or trade-in value the seller applied to your car purchase in the calculation.

Do you need help?car import taxes

Many complications come along with buying a car from another state. In this case, the best thing you can do is to leave it to the professionals who can handle this complex process for you. Located in Blaine, WA, we are one of the licensed car importers, specializing in auto-import to Canada and U.S. Contact us if you want snowbird car transport Canada.

Contact us now! We are looking forward to hearing from you!

If this post was helpful to you, please leave us a 5star review. It would help our business a lot. Thanks!

Why are import taxes so high?

Those Canadians who have ever naively purchased anything on a U.S. retail website know how your bargain will be ruined if it costs more than $20 Cdn. Customs agents can intercept it, open it, delay it, add federal and provincial sales taxes, and add some duties depending on the origin of your product. The package price could easily rise by 50 percent by the time the government is done. Added to that are the usual charges imposed by customs brokers, which can raise the final cost of a package by another 20-30%. As a result, most auto importers and U.S. car importers simply don’t bother shipping to Canada because it’s so expensive and filled with paperwork.

In the Pre-internet days, consumers in Canada didn’t realize how much they were being ripped off, the business sector could coexist in peace, and the government could collect taxes. Now it’s right in front of you every time you Google a price for something you search for.

Despite Canada and the U.S. being a supposed trading bloc, American consumers can easily buy from Canada with virtually no government interference. Still, our government ensures that purchasing American products becomes impossible for Canadians. It is easy to support the business lobby that wants Canada to unblock its border and raise the threshold at which a purchase is exempt from duty and taxes — the so-called de minimis.

The American de minimis is $800 US, which means American consumers can import pretty much anything they please from anywhere in the world. Canada’s de minimis is $20 Cdn, which means Canadians cannot import anything without huge, punishing fees. But before we get to the why, let’s break down all these import taxes:

Breakdown of these fees

Understanding the fees auto importers charge when importing from the U.S. or other countries is important.


This is an unavoidable charge. Depending on your province, taxes will be applied to most things you import into Canada.


Customs duty is a little more complicated because it varies depending on the type of goods you bought and where they were made or came from. Generally, if you purchase a product from the U.S. through the CUSMA (now known as the Free Trade Agreement), there shouldn’t be a duty to pay.


The only exception to the above two fees is if an item costs less than $20 Cdn, there is no tax or duty charged by CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency). If you can convince the seller to mark an item as a gift, you’re entitled to an exception of $60 Cdn. For anything over $60, you’ll have to pay taxes.

Customs Processing Fee

There are many names for this, including clearance entry fee and broker fee, but they all refer to the same thing. Packages that come into Canada must clear customs, and car importers handle it by paying CBSA to facilitate the process. Usually, the importer charges a service fee for customs clearance.

The why


This is the most important reason. More than 3.4 million jobs are generated and supported by the Canadian retail sector. Although many of those jobs exist because of protectionism, that is not the point; they exist for a reason. If the de minimis threshold were raised to $200 US, a quarter of what the U.S. is demanding, then Canadian purchases would shift to the U.S., and 286,000 jobs could be lost within three years. That’s pretty much all the Canadian government cares about.

Economies of scale

Canadian retailers pay between 10 and 50 percent more than U.S. retailers for the same products because Canada is such a small market. In addition, manufacturers increasingly insist on setting prices at different levels in Canada, and retailers are bullied into playing along. Even after all the fees Canada imposes on cross-border commerce, and after adding in the higher shipping costs Canadians have to endure and the parasitic customs broker’s fees, the U.S. “e-tailers” still have a 12-percent price advantage over their Canadian competitors. If the de minimis were raised, the gap would grow to 25 percent, which would lead to bankruptcy.


Both Canada and the United States force merchants to collect and send sales tax to state treasuries. However, Canada requires a lot more sales tax, and our federal and provincial governments work together on this issue. HST is imposed on all incoming shipments at a combined rate of about 13 percent. On the other hand, Americans don’t have a federal sales tax, and the federal government doesn’t collect sales taxes on behalf of their state governments. Even the states do not collect taxes on many out-of-state shipments. So, a higher de minimis would lead to a further 13 percent disadvantage for Canadian retailers.

The Takeaway

It is true that Canadian e-tailers can ship tax- and duty-free to customers in California, while brick-and-mortar stores in the city must collect both state and city sales taxes from customers. However, why would anyone in California order something from a Canadian retailer? Most Americans do not like ordering from international vendors. That makes sense. They have the best prices in their country. The main takeaway is that raising the de minimis would be highly disruptive to the Canadian economy. What should be done? This depends on how much you are willing to pay for the isolation of Canada from the largest, deepest, and richest economy in human history. Since the cost is all the data stated above, reversed.

The solutionAuto car importing taxes

A sensible solution would be to integrate more with the U.S. economy. There should be a customs union and maybe a currency union, so if we have to give up our pretty polymer money, then so be it. Canadian protectionism has long led to complacency and uncompetitive behavior. But this is not a popular opinion. As it is in Canada right now, raising the de minimis would disrupt the whole system. This is why the government has no intention of raising the de minimis.

As you can read in this article, many complications come along with auto-import to Canada. Therefore, the best thing you can do in this case is to leave it to the experts who can handle this complicated process for you. We are one of the licensed car importers located in Blaine, Washington, and we specialize in vehicle transport services. Contact us if you want to import a car into Canada. We look forward to hearing from you!

If this post was helpful to you, please leave us a 5star review. It would help our business a lot. Thanks!

What is the rule for importing cars?

If you’re a car enthusiast and love foreign makes and models, it’s very likely that you’ve thought about importing a car to the U.S. But like many other car lovers, you may decide to stay away from importing your dream into the United States when you learn about the complicated rules and regulations. We know that auto-import to Canada or the United States is not an easy process, but it’s definitely worth it if you’ll finally get your hands on the car of your dreams.

Importing Cars to the USA Properly

This short guide will help you understand the rules you need to know before you decide to import a car on your own. You can also seek assistance from car importers who know these rules best. There are mainly four rules governing the import process, and each applies to specific types of cars:

1. Achieve US Car Import Laws Compliance

Importing foreign-made motor vehicles is very strictly regulated in the United States. The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that all cars meet its safety standards, and a sticker is affixed to the bumper, denoting compliance.

Vehicles imported from other countries must comply with the following laws and regulations. In the event that any foreign motor vehicle does not meet these standards, it will either be exported or destroyed:

  • Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act (1972)
  • Motor Vehicle Safety Act (1966)
  • Importing Vehicle Safety Compliance Act (1988)
  • Clean Air Act (1990)

Sometimes the simplest way to legally import a vehicle into the United States is to bring it into compliance with U.S. rules and regulations. You can quickly obtain customs clearance approval by finding licensed auto importers who can assist you.

2. Substantially Similar ClauseImporting Cars to the USA

If the imported car is very similar to another model manufactured in the US, you can use the Substantially Similar Clause. Generally, this clause is used when importing cars from Canada. It’s because American and Canadian cars usually have interchangeable parts. If agents at customs agree that your vehicle is similar to American models, it is approved for import.

Sadly, many car enthusiasts are left out of the “substantially similar” clause. It is because, while Canadian cars generally conform to U.S. laws, vehicles from other markets are not necessarily the same.

3. Show and Display Rule

The Show and Display Rule were initially passed in 1999. It states that privately imported vehicles are exempt from import restrictions under certain conditions. The most important of these conditions is that the car must have “technological or historical significance.”

It only applies to vehicles that don’t meet the regular United States guidelines – Vehicles that didn’t pass U.S. safety standards and therefore weren’t sold new in the U.S. Known as Grey Market Vehicles; they can only be driven on US roads after meeting strict requirements.

All applications are processed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and they have the final say on which cars can be imported and which not. Importing a vehicle can be a time-consuming and expensive process – and if you want to utilize this rule, things can get even more complicated. That’s why the list of eligible cars is mostly limited to exquisite, expensive sports cars. It is also difficult to add a new vehicle to this list. The following are a few examples of cars that pass this rule:

  • Porsche 911 GT3 RS
  • BMW M3 CRT
  • Ferrari Enzo #400
  • Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR 722S
  • Aston Martin Lagonda Taraf

Even if your dream car qualifies for the Show and Display Rule, you can only drive it on public roads up to 2,500 miles per year. In some cases, the NTHSA will approve the importation but not register the car.

Requirements for the Show and Display Rulecar importers

Once a vehicle of a particular production year, make, and model is approved for import, the same vehicle does not need to be reapplied for. This is why the NHTSA keeps a running list of cars already approved and disapproved for import. US car importers know the approved cars well, so they can easily find the right car for you. The NHTSA may inspect a vehicle annually to verify that its mileage does not go beyond the stated limit of 2,500 miles per year. Also, approval for importation does not guarantee approval for licensing and registration.

General Qualifications

Show and Display Rule apply to a car if:

  • It was manufactured less than 25 years ago
  • It is no longer being produced
  • It is not a replica or a kit car
  • It has documented technological or historical significance
  • Only a limited number of these products were produced (typically 500 units)
  • The specific model was never sold new in the United States

Major Restrictions

There are several limitations:

  • The car is not currently produced in any country
  • NHTSA must give written consent before the vehicle can be sold 
  • The car can be driven no more than 2,500 miles per year – and only inside the US

There are several loopholes in the NHTSA regulations that they can use if they are concerned about public safety. They can, for example, approve the vehicle based on the guidelines but don’t let it be registered.

4. 25-Year-Old Import Rule

This rule will probably be why you choose auto importers to do the job. First, know that although the 25-year rule is federal, different states might have their own laws that you’ll need to follow. For example, if you want to import a car to California, you must comply with additional regulations that apply to vehicles manufactured after 1975. Check your state’s regulations before you import your chosen car — or contact one of the licensed car importers in your state for more information.

Second, you should also follow EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) compliance exemptions, but this does not apply to all kinds of vehicles. There are specific EPA regulations for different cars and motorcycles. If your dream car was manufactured more than 21 years ago but has an EPA-compliant engine, then you’re one step ahead.

Is the car 25 years old?

You’ll need to prove the year this specific car was manufactured if you want it to be exempt from Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations using the 25-year rule. Knowing the model’s release year isn’t enough; you’ll need to prove when the car itself was made. We suggest leaving this part to experienced auto importers, but here are a few ways to do it:rules for importing cars

  • A dated label on the vehicle from the original producer
  • An invoice from the first time it was sold 
  • A copy of the car registration 25 years or older
  • A statement identifying the vehicle’s age from a recognized historical society

Even when the import process is done, there are still things to consider; you’ll need vehicle transport services, paperwork for registration, and there is always insurance. The best thing you can do is leave this complicated process to the professionals. We are one of the licensed car importers located in Blaine, WA, specializing in importing cars to Canada and the US. Call us now and get your dream car!

If this post was helpful to you, please leave us a 5star review. It would help our business a lot. Thanks!

How much does a car import cost?

Even though there are so many kinds of cars readily available in the U.S., there are many reasons you would want to import one. If you are moving to the U.S. from a foreign country, you may want to keep your own car. Another reason is that you can find many affordable used cars in good condition in other countries that you’d have to pay much more for them in the U.S. Finally, there are car enthusiasts who might have their eyes set on a car that isn’t available in the U.S.

But when you find the car of your dreams, there’ll be one big problem – it’s on the other side of the world. And the process of importing a car is something many people wouldn’t want to get into. It’s complex, paperwork-filled, and expensive. So you better consider getting help from one of the many vehicle transport services across the U.S.

Cost To Import A Car

Auto import to Canada or U.S usually costs between $2,500 and $5,000. And that’s on top of the car price! Factors like the make, model, year, law of the country the car are coming from and the country it is arriving in are these influential factors.

By reading this article, you will know the costs and complications of importing a car. It also helps you to decide whether you should handle the process by yourself or use one of the registered car importers.

We will now go through the process and break down the different steps of importing a car in detail and all the fees associated with each step:

Shipping cost

Importing a car from Europe to North America should only cost you around $1,000 – $1,500. But the maximum amount could go up to about $5,000, depending on the shipping method used. There are three main options for shipping: using a shared container, a private container, or a roll-on/roll-off service. Roll-on/roll-off is the least expensive shipping method, with nearly half the price of containers, but cars are more easily damaged in the process.

Shared containers are more expensive than roll-on/roll-off containers. However, they’re not too costly as multiple cars can be transported in a single container, and the fees are split among all car owners.

A private container has the high-level security of a fully enclosed container with no waiting time for other cars. It’s the most expensive and the fastest option,  most suitable for classic cars.

Duty fees for importing vehicles

Whether new or used, vehicles made abroad are usually subject to duty when imported into the U.S. You can expect to pay 2.5% for a car, 25% for a truck, and 2.4% for a motorcycle. The duty is based on the price you paid for the vehicle.

Additional Costs:

The good thing about working with car importers is that you won’t be surprised by unexpected fees. However, if you’re trying the process on your own, here are some extra costs to consider:

International bank fees

Using an international bank account to make payments for vehicles may involve additional bank fees. Domestic wire transfers can cost around $20 to $30, but international wire transfers can cost more than $50. Also, smaller international banks tend to reroute funds through a number of banks, resulting in more fees.

Ground transport

Obviously, you want to keep your dream car in the same condition as when you purchased it. Most cars can be transported on an open auto carrier with no problem, but classic cars should be transported with enclosed carriers. This will protect your beloved car from bad weather, road conditions, rock chips, and in the unlikely case that it is parked underneath another car, which could leak oil, coolant, or other harmful fluids. An enclosed transport usually costs 1.5 to 2 times more than an open carrier.

Inspection Fees

The last thing anyone wants is to have their container pulled for a random inspection by Customs, but it can happen. If customs pulls the container for inspection, you as the shipper are responsible for paying all inspection fees.

A Customs inspection can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000, and even if your container passes inspection, you still have to pay all fees. However, random customs inspections are rare. Less than 10% of containers are ever pulled for a random inspection. But if your car does not pass, it will be exported, and that’s another reason you should work with trusted car importers.

Marine insurance

Shipping overseas is considered to be a safe and reliable method for transporting goods, but you wouldn’t want to be stuck with the bill if your container falls overboard. The insurance usually costs around 2% of the car value, so it would be less than 600$ for a 30,000$ car.

Other things to consider

In case you decide to do it yourself, there are many things to consider since the process involves many parties and can be complex:

Documentation needed:

First, you need to start with documentation.

  • Customs will require the following documents when you import a vehicle into the U.S.: Shipping Documentation, which includes the Shipping Original Bill of Lading and the Vehicle License Documentation. 
  • Passport/VISA (always keep a copy in case they need it)
  • EPA Form 3520-1 (the United States Environmental Protection Agency Website)
  • DOT Form HS-7 (PDF) 

When it comes to importing your car, understanding the laws based on whether it is under 25 years old or over 25 years old can greatly affect the process and costs. So you need to that:

If your vehicle is under 25 years old:

Then there will be additional documentation, and the process will be much more difficult and more expensive than if it was an older model. The vehicle must conform to the U.S. Safety and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards. If it doesn’t meet the requirement, you’ll need to contact one of the registered auto importers to make the necessary modifications. 

If your vehicle is Over 25 Years Old

If your car is more than 25 years old, you can import it into the U.S. regardless of whether it conforms to U.S. safety and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards or not.

Make Your Prior Arrangements:

If auto importers do not do the importing process, you, as the purchaser and importer, are responsible for making prior arrangements with your shipping carrier. Some say it is best to have a trusted connection in the exporting country, as sending money to people on the other side of the world can be stressful. But we believe that it is best to hire one of the registered U.S. car importers to assist you in handling the car entry.


Paperwork is probably the biggest concern you’ll have during this process. A step that doesn’t get a lot of attention but is one of the most challenging in the importation process. Auto importers can assist you with this complex and high quantity of paperwork that is not easily handled by an ordinary person unfamiliar with government processes.


This will be one of the last steps and is another important part of the process that you can work out with a car importer. Once customs has cleared your car and you have passed emissions testing and paid taxes, you will need to present your registration again.

How Can Car Importers Help You?

While all of this may appear to be relatively straightforward to some, it’s actually expensive and can be highly stressful. The process of finding a car from a reputable dealer and making sure that all the ducks are in a row before you get the car is no easy task. Remember you’re purchasing a 25-year-old, multi-thousand-dollar piece of equipment from a stranger. You don’t even know if the car runs before you get it!

So if you feel the process is overwhelming, you’ll be happy to know that we are one of the trusted U.S. car importers, based in Blaine, WA. We will gladly handle all of these problems for you. We’ll find you a good car, manage all foreign affairs, and deal with CBP and shipping on your behalf. This is probably the most realistic path for most people who want to import a car.

Want to know how much it would cost to import your dream to U.S. or Canada? Contact us and get a free quote today.

If this post was helpful to you, please leave us a 5star review. It would help our business a lot. Thanks!