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U.S. Vehicle Imports Guide

“Importing a car is a little bit like driving one: If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re liable to run into all kinds of problems.”

The U.S. import requirements for vehicles are difficult for newcomers. If you have never imported an auto to the United States before, you have no way of knowing the requirements. You could try doing your own research, but how would you know you’ve covered all your bases?

That’s why you need an experienced shipping company that can show you the options and get it done right. When you choose Trans Global Auto Logistics, U.S. vehicle imports are not so hard after all.

If you are preparing to import a vehicle, you’ve come to the right place. To help you get started, we have prepared this short guide on the U.S. import laws. Cars and trucks have more requirements than importing small packages and letters. The important thing is not to memorize all the details of the U.S. import requirements — leave that to us — but to get a sense of the big picture.

An Intro to Importing

The U.S. vehicle imports journey begins with a consultation. We will find out what type of vehicle you have, what country you will be shipping from, and other relevant details. This lets us determine which U.S. import requirements will apply to your specific situation.

We will also discuss your timetable, budget, and other priorities. At Trans Global, we have several shipping options to choose from. We’ll provide the information, and you’ll make the decisions. The most important decisions include:

  • Mode of Shipping: We offer sea, land, and air options for U.S. vehicle imports.
  • Cargo Insurance: We’ll help you choose the right level of protection.
  • Type of Storage: Storage options during transit include open deck storage, shared container storage, and private container storage.

We will also help you figure out the exact itinerary from your vehicle, from the point where we pick it up from you (or your agent), to the point where you (or your agent) pick it up.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection oversees compliance with all applicable U.S. import requirements. For instance, CBP is tasked with upholding all applicable U.S. import laws for cars and trucks (such as laws on vehicle environmental standards), as well as its own regulations and the regulations of other government agencies like the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Reason for Importing Matters

The reason for importing will influence the import process. U.S. vehicle imports for personal reasons typically have different fees than items you’re importing to resell. E-commerce importers will also have to deal with regulations and charges in place at the point of origin.

As you would expect, large-ticket items like cars and other vehicles come with their own extra set of U.S. import requirements.

Going “By the Book”

A successful import depends on going by the book. It’s very important to properly comply with all the various U.S. import laws for cars and trucks.

Tfe rules, regulations and fees for U.S. vehicle imports vary from agency to agency, country to country and item to item. CBP and other federal agencies may require you to get certain licenses or permits. One U.S. import requirement is that CBP must authorize the delivery of your merchandise. Someone — the owner, the purchaser, or a customs broker — has to file documents prior to entry, as well.

The port director has to release certain documents, such as an Entry Manifest, the application and permit for delivery, or another form of authorization. You will need to provide evidence that the merchandise has the right to enter the United States, too. When you arrive to pick up your vehicle, you will need to bring along a commercial invoice or a pro forma version, any packing lists and additional documents certifying that the vehicle is admissible into the US

Along with complying with the U.S. import requirements, the vehicle also needs to be inspected. An examination will appraise the value of your vehicle, and determine whether it needs specific labeling or has any components that are illegal or prohibited.

How We Help

Trans Global Auto Logistics has a rundown of what you need to know about the U.S. import requirements, including U.S. customs import fees, restrictions and additional information. You can find more information, including a link to the official CBP import guides, on our Shipping Documentation page.

Don’t Buy a Vehicle Before You Know If It Can Be Imported

If you’re in a situation where you want to import a vehicle that you haven’t bought yet, stop. Before buying, you need to figure out whether the vehicle can actually be imported.

U.S. vehicle imports have to meet strict standards before being allowed into the country. Before purchasing a car, truck or motorcycle from an international or overseas location, it would benefit you to familiarize yourself with the specific U.S. import requirements. Otherwise, your new car might get stopped at the border with no hope of entering the United States.

Don’t Do It Alone: Hire Trans Global Auto Logistics and Get It Shipped Right

U.S. vehicle imports are a lot easier with expert help. Trans Global Auto Logistics has compiled a summary of U.S. import laws for cars and trucks, including which vehicles are banned from import. We will take all the guesswork out of your import, and make sure you comply with all relevant U.S. import requirements.

And then of course is the actual shipping: From the moment you drop your vehicle off with us, to the moment you pick it up, our 30+ years of service in the industry will be hard at work on your behalf:

  • We are a fully bonded and licensed freight forwarder and non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC).
  • We own and operate our own warehouses, minimizing third-party control over your vehicle and also allowing us to offer more competitive rates.
  • We have a friendly and professional customer service team who can help you out at any step of the process, answering your questions and dealing with any issues that may arise.
  • We offer an offshore biosecurity cleaning program and a custom designed vehicle tracking system.
  • We offer escrow services and third-party inspections.
  • We ship more than 15,000 vehicles a year!

We hope this guide to the U.S. import requirements and that overall shipping process has answered some of your questions. When you’re ready, let’s get started together.

Request a free shipping quote today!

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