Nonconforming vehicles less than 25 years old entering the U.S. must be brought into compliance, exported, or destroyed.
Vehicles over 25 years old are exempt from EPA and DOT requirements, although you will still need to obtain and prepare EPA and DOT paperwork to provide to Customs and Border Protection.
Prior to filing your entry with CBP:
- Ensure you have valid proof of ownership, which is an original certificate of title, or a certified copy of the original.
- Manufacturer’s letter, stating that the vehicle conforms to EPA and DOT standards,
- Completed EPA form 3520-1 and DOT form HS-7. (If the vehicle has stickers on the engine (EPA) and inside the drivers-side door (DOT) stating that the car was manufactured to U.S. standards, you will not need a manufacturer’s letter. Some vehicles are listed by make, model, and year on the DOT and EPA web sites as conforming. If your vehicle is one of those, that would also negate the need for a manufacturer’s letter.)
- The EPA has a detailed automotive facts manual describing emission requirements for imported vehicles. You can get a copy of this manual, entitled the Automotive Imports Facts Manual, (order #EPA420B94006) or other information about importing motor vehicles by calling the EPA import hotline at (734) 214-4100.
- DOT enforces safety standards for vehicles. Nonconforming vehicles must be brought into conformance before they are eligible for entry. This process can be extremely expensive. Contact them for more information at 1-800-424-9393. You will need to obtain form HS-7.
- There are special duty free provisions in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, which stipulates the criteria for samples eligible for duty free treatment. For example, in order for samples of textiles to be entered duty-free, they cannot be valued over $1.00 each, or must be marked SAMPLE NOT FOR RESALE,” cut or torn, and perforated so they are unsuitable for sale or use.
- Samples can also be brought in on a TIB entry if they are solely for taking orders and not for consumption. The samples cannot be sold and are allowed into the U.S. for a time period of one year from the date of importation, with two extensions, which cannot exceed 3 years. A bond must cover the amount equal to 110% of the estimated duties and fees. If the goods are not exported or destroyed within the allotted time period, there is a breach of the Customs bond. Customs will demand the payment of liquidated damages equal to 110% of the estimated duties.
- If you are a traveler with commercial samples, a carnet may be best option for you.