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Everything I Ever Learned About Importing

Discussion in 'Diesel Tech / 24 volts' started by 70seriesaddict, Jan 22, 2004.

  1. 70seriesaddict

    70seriesaddict

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    Hi all,

    Sorry to be so absent when this whole topic came down in a big way on this board, there's been recovery time from my 2000+ mile turkey day Cruiser trip followed by holidays followed by heavy gem sales that still has me a little frazzled trying to keep up with...

    And thanks Dave T. for trying to say that those of us who import don't want to give out our secrets, but I have spilled my guts before on the diesel list and I will do it again here and be done with it.

    First off, am not a registered importer though I am thinking of becoming one.

    Any how, this is what I know:

    1.) CANADIAN SPEC&#039:D VEHICLES.
    a.) DOT free 25 years old EPA free 21 years period, Canadian or rest-of-world. Some customs officers go by exact prod. date so beware, if you are early by a day you, may have to wait, each officer/crossing is different.
    b.) What is required to cross the border for newer than 25/21 year old Canadian spec'd vehicle is one of two things and ONLY one of these two things, period, case closed. EITHER a letter from the manufacturer stating that your vehicle, identified in the letter by the proper VIN, meets all US safety and emissions standards for its model year, OR paperwork done by a registered importer/independent commercial importer. As per my phone conversations with Jim Press' personal assistant, it is Toyota company policy to NOT issue letters of conformity, so don't even start there like the NHTSA tells you to on their website, it is futile, you will never receive a good letter.
    c.) There is a list of Canadian spec'd vehicles that the EPA knows to meet US emissions standards, this list is available to the public and it is the list that importers use to make sure your vehicle meets emissions. One importer I called said my BJ70 wasn't on the list, one I called said it was, don't know why the difference. If your vehicle does not show up on this list you have a few options. The following options are the same for rest-of-world imports as well. You have to pay to have your vehicle emissions tested. If it is older than 6 years only a "MOD" test is required, if it doesn't pass the first time modifications are made and the vehicle must be retested. If it is newer than 6 years it must be tested, a certificate of conformity filed, and a 1% fee paid to the EPA, same goes for if it fails the first test and/or if modifications are required. A total of three vehicles of the same model and model year may enter under the one certificate of conformity, after that every third must be tested. From my research all Canadian spec'd diesel Cruisers meet US emissions. Eugene Cole got a letter from Toyota that stated that his '85 BJ70 met all safety except minor labeling but it did not meet emissions. This was a lie, manufacturers will lie to keep non-US vehicles from coming in. I obtained Toyota documents filed with Transport Canada that stated that the BJ70 met Canadian emissions because it was manufactured for US emissions (which at the time were more strict than Canadian). My contact with the EPA in Ann Arbor told me he has caught many manufacturers lying to importers about compliance, it is not unusual. My contact with Transport Canada forwarded this document on to My contact at the EPA in Ann Arbor who then sent to the proper EPA guy in DC.
    d.) As exemplified by the above mentioned Toyota letter that stated that a Canadian spec'd BJ70 met US safety with the exception of minor labeling, all Canadian spec'd Cruisers meet US safety. The ONLY modification required is that a label that says KM must be affixed to the face plate of the speedo unit next to the odometer reading and next to the tripodometer reading, this was told to me over the phone by the NHTSA themselves. One of my importers did this, the other did not, doesn't bother me that the one did not, saved me $100.
    e.) The key therefore to legally importing a Canadian spec'd Cruiser is finding an importer who will do it for you that knows enough about what they are doing to know it meets emissions, to know that the entire speedo unit does NOT need to be swapped out ONLY a sticker put on it, etc. Best thing to do, call around beginning with the RI/ICI that is closest to your home or border crossing and work from there.
    f.) EPA/DOT exemptions for importing Canadian spec'd vehicles are as follows: A Canadian may gift/will/or sell their personal vehicle to an immediate family member that lives in the US. Proof of relation must be provided. A Canadian moving to the US (either to permanently emigrate or just on a visa longer than one year say for a student attending a 4 year college) may import with them one personal vehicle. For either of these exemptions you must prove that you did not purchase the vehicle for the sole purpose of bringing into the US often by showing ownership for at least one year prior to importation.

    2.) NON CANADIAN SPEC&#039:D VEHICLES IN CANADA.
    a.) A vehicle not manufactured for the Canadian or US market may ONLY be imported into Canada if it is 15 years old or older. There is no requirement to make these 15 year old or older vehicles meet Canadian specs.
    b.) This 15 year rule has a "hard cut off date" after which it doesn't matter if it is 15 years old or not. If it was manufactured for a market other than US or Canada after January 1, 1990 it cannot be imported period. However, it looks like there will be a new law passed in Canada before this hard cut off date goes into effect with a sunsetting exemption. Starting in 2005 only 15 year old and older may be imported, 2006 14 year old and older may be imported, 2007 13 year old an older maybe imported, and so on until the year 2020 when all vehicles will be made to comply with one world standard. In any case, the man claiming to be importing Japanese Cruisers into Canada that are newer than 15 years old is either doing it illegally or they are being imported into Canada for re-export only, so BEWARE!
    c.) Non Canadian spec'd Cruisers in Canada are NOT eligible for importation into the US under the same rules that govern Canadian spec'd imports, they must be imported into the US as if they were coming from rest-of-world, see #3 below.
    d.) Mining Cruisers fall into this category too since they were never certified for Canadian roads. Even when they have been legally licensed by persons for on-road use in Canada, they must be imported as if they were being imported from rest-of-world.
    e.) The same exemptions listed in #1F above apply to non Canadian spec'd vehicles licensed for road use in Canada for importation into the US.

    3.) REST-OF-WORLD IMPORTATION.
    a.) DOT. In order for a Cruiser to be imported into the US that was not originally manufactured for the US or Canadian market it must be imported by an RI/ICI and it must be on the list of vehicles eligible for importation. Vehicles make it onto this list one of three ways. First of all the administrator of the NHTSA may deem a vehicle eligible for importation. Second, an RI/ICI may petition a vehicle's eligibility claiming a substantially similar US spec'd model exists. Lastly, an RI/ICI may petition a vehicle's eligibility claiming while no substantially similar US spec'd model exists the vehicle is capable of being modified to meet US safety standards. This last option sometimes involves crash testing three vehicles to prove crashworthiness. Currently, the only Cruisers on the eligibility list are through model 1996. These petitions for eligibility for Cruisers are NOT model specific, they only state Land Cruiser MPV. MPV stands for multi-purpose vehicle and is the designation all SUVs and minivans get. This designation is visible on the manufacturer's tag on the driver side door sill. My BJ70s have all had this MPV designation. Any 60, 80, 70 series short, medium, or long wagon, or 40 series short or long wagon would be eligible for importation under the existing petitions, no pickups. From going through non-US/Canadian spec'd Cruisers I have found very little to not be in compliance with US safety standards. This is because Toyota uses DOT spec'd parts on their lines whether the vehicle is going to the US or not. Things like seat belt supports, safety glass, DOT brake lines, etc. are all already up to snuff. The only things I have found different are minor, like the speedos, high mount rear brake lights, side marker lights, license plate lights, locking glove boxes, etc., all things that can be easily and affordably modified. The only big expensive things are on 9/1/97 and newer manufactured SUVs, there needs to be dual airbags and side safety impact beams.
    b.) EPA. Please see #1C.
    c.) Other EPA possibilities. From working with my contact at the EPA who was in charge of working with the ICIs who were filing certificates of conformity, there appears to be some other ways to go about emissions. He told me that if I could show that the emissions standards for the country the Cruiser was originally manufactured/certified for were equal to or more strict than the US standards, then testing could be avoided. He also told me that if we could obtain government or manufacturer emissions output information for the Cruiser, such as the emissions certificate of conformity on file in the country of origin, which shows the vehicle's emissions to be within US limits then testing could again be avoided. He also told me he felt that the whole test-every-third might be circumvented if manufacturer proof were provided that no running changes were made to that model during that model year that would affect emissions. On that same token he felt the same argument could be made for same models of different years, again that if manufacturer proof were provided that no running changes were made to that model between model years then testing could be avoided. While he felt these were all possibilities no one has ever attempted to circumvent the testing process by using any of these ideas.
    d.) Right hand drive. There was a time when the DOT didn't care, but just recently they ruled that from now on there must be a petition for import eligibility on file for a RHD model. Currently there is only one RHD petition on file and that is for the Nissan GTS/GTR. Rick, I know you say those importers all told you that they would have to convert a RHD Cruiser to LHD. The truth is they told you that because they did not want to go through the hassle of petitioning a RHD model and importing your truck. Since there is at least one petition on file for a RHD vehicle we all know now that the argument CAN be successfully made that a RHD model is as safe as a LHD of the same model. The trick is finding an importer who is willing to petition a RHD Cruiser.
    e.) More exemptions. The NHTSA lists on their website import exemptions that go for the EPA as well, such as for show purposes, research, diplomatic service, etc. But for the most part those are temporary exemptions, the vehicles must be shown to leave the country within one year. If you are looking to have a trailer queen trail truck or if you live on a ranch there is another exemption. Vehicles may be imported for off-road use only and be exempt from DOT/EPA. The vehicle can be imported but it CAN'T be licensed/registered for road use, so no plates! This exemption however has its limits. For example, off road diesel vehicles manufactured after 1/1/96 with an HP of 50 to 100 must meet emissions standards and off road diesel vehicles manufactured after 1/1/97 with an HP of 101 to 175 must meet emissions standards. Lastly, there is another option. A vehicle can imported as parts, reassembled, and titled in some states as a home built vehicle form used parts. This loop hole was recently closed down in my state, but in many others this is a real possibility. The requirements for doing this are different in each state, so call your local DMV and ask.

    Now, I may be forgetting some stuff, so please ask.

    I am both sad and glad to hear your story Alex D. of your first attempt at importing, you never told me before! Anyway, I had always wondered what would happen if one were to do a one way drive, now I know, makes those titling agencies not look like such a good idea anymore...
     
    mycophagist, Slouie and wyocoyote like this.
  2. HZJ60 Guy

    HZJ60 Guy Tank Buster

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    To you, fine lady, I say, "Thank you"!


    TB :p

    (edited to correct gender reference...hehehe)
     
  3. woody

    woody unhelpful spotter Staff Member Admin

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    Alex, you are by far the expert in this...thanks so much for adding this information!
     
  4. Radd Cruisers

    Radd Cruisers

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    That was one big read and a pile of great information, it will give more people hope of importing cruisers.

    I do know of a person in from Eastern Canada who used a RI, he wrote a letter to the folks at the border for a Canadian sold HJ60. He claimed a board gives you thumbs up or down on importing the vehicle on the petition?

    Does this sound correct?

    Rob
     
  5. wesintl

    wesintl

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    The only thing I can add is that you may have to call and talk to several different people before you get a right answer sometimes. This goes for your local dmv to the epa. Just don't take the first answer as law. Alex leads to this in her post. I recently got shuffled around alot til I got someone that really knew what they were talking about in one of my latest inqueries for something new :D
     
  6. semlin

    semlin discouraged user

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    Alex, you state that "A vehicle not manufactured for the Canadian or US market may ONLY be imported into Canada if it is 15 years old or older".

    I am curious whether you are sure of that. I am Canadian and live in Vancouver, I have seen a Canadian registered 80 series VX turbo diesel (LHD) here in town and it is definitely not a mine truck, and I have also seen a 1995 rhd 70 series pickup for sale locally, which must be an import. These are less than 15 years old. Is it perhaps possible to bring in newer vehicles using the same type of exceptions or petitions as you described for the US?

    Also, I am curious about the US exemption list. I notice that the NHTSA website lists some "landcruisers" as exempt but gives no model numbers, but how can you find out which landcruiser models these are?

    Finally, I imagine, for example, that someone like mustang connection with a big stock would have hired an RI to petition a RHD bj74 into the US by now and then would trumpet the fact that they are US importable. Why isn't this being done?

    thanks for the great information
     
  7. HZJ60 Guy

    HZJ60 Guy Tank Buster

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    All good questions.


    TB :p
     
  8. Jim_Chow

    Jim_Chow

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    Would there be any chance you could ask your EPA contact if anyone has (or if it's possible) to import a left-hand drive international spec (extreme condition) 2003-2004 Landcruiser HZJ105? (preferably the one w/o the rear jump seats and barn doors). I know they don't come w/ airbags, but I see on toyota's website that they have a global safety standard in that they find the strictest international safety standards and beat it. In the photo, they show a LC 100 body, so that would suggest the side impact beams are a given in the 100 series. As far as emissions testing, many states are very lax on diesel emissions (CA doesn't have any test, AZ just requires 30% opacity). Wouldn't the EPA test for diesels be incredibly easy to pass, like a joke? Also, would you know if the international spec cruisers would have to have their window glass changed? They have this coating on the windshield so if you're caught in a riot and someone throws a brick into your windshield, it won't cave it or shatter.

    --Jim
     
  9. lowenbrau

    lowenbrau SILVER Star

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    [quote author=semlin link=board=21;threadid=10493;start=msg95342#msg95342 date=1075074586]
    Alex, you state that "A vehicle not manufactured for the Canadian or US market may ONLY be imported into Canada if it is 15 years old or older".

    I am curious whether you are sure of that. I am Canadian and live in Vancouver, I have seen a Canadian registered 80 series VX turbo diesel (LHD) here in town and it is definitely not a mine truck, and I have also seen a 1995 rhd 70 series pickup for sale locally, which must be an import. These are less than 15 years old. Is it perhaps possible to bring in newer vehicles using the same type of exceptions or petitions as you described for the US?

    [/quote]

    The fifteen year rule is right and there is a hard cuttoff in 1990 when Canada and the US aligned their vehicle requirements. I had a 1991 LJ73 that was running around Alberta for a few years before I bought it and it seemed totally legit. It had valid registration and I drove it until someone (the original owner actually) saw it and reported it to Canada Customs. It has since been seized, crushed, shredded and recycled into a domestic and I still have about 14 payments on it. Don't mess with CCRA unless you are willing to lose.

    Cheers
    Bruce
     
  10. bad_religion_au

    bad_religion_au

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    [quote author=Lowenbrau link=board=21;threadid=10493;start=msg96656#msg96656 date=1075358311]
    and I drove it until someone (the original owner actually) saw it and reported it to Canada Customs.
    [/quote]

    is this before mentioned previous owner now rotting at the bottom of a lake ? i'd be very very unkind towards such a person. at least wouldn't you have grounds to try to recover some of the money from the PO as obviously they sold it to you knowing it wasn't legal...
     
  11. lowenbrau

    lowenbrau SILVER Star

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    The original owner wasn't really a bad person. He tried to screw around with the rules and had the vehicle seized and auctioned a year or so after he moved here from Europe. When it turned up driving around his neighborhood with me at the wheel he decided to call Customs to see what was up. The second owner is pond scum. He bought the truck from the auction, drove it to Montana to show it left the country (a condition of the auction) and then drove it right back home. He kept it for a couple of years and then decided to roll back the odometer and sell it to me with a cute story of how he imported it.

    Bottom of a lake is too good for that guy.
     
  12. semlin

    semlin discouraged user

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    Lowenbrau, that's a sad story. I wonder how that guy with the vx diesel 80 series in town here sleeps at night.

    I guess I am having trouble understanding where Canada Customs gets off refusing entry to newer vehicles if it can be shown they meet Canadian standards.
     
  13. Overlord

    Overlord

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    [quote author=semlin link=board=21;threadid=10493;start=msg96749#msg96749 date=1075407225]
    Lowenbrau, that's a sad story. I wonder how that guy with the vx diesel 80 series in town here sleeps at night.

    I guess I am having trouble understanding where Canada Customs gets off refusing entry to newer vehicles if it can be shown they meet Canadian standards.


    [/quote]

    The same thing could be said about US customs too. :)
     
  14. Junk

    Junk

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    Thanks for the info 70 :D
     
  15. lss

    lss

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    Hello,I am an american living in Guinea Africa,Landcrusiers of all types are common.In fact yesterday I bought a 97 lc 75 the pickup version.It was owned by debeers the diamond company.I have always wanted one of these trucks but as you know they are not easy to find in the state.What I would like to know is can you tell me more about bring the parts in the U.S. to build a truck.I was thinking I would like to bring one Home in a couple years.Shane
     
  16. 70seriesaddict

    70seriesaddict

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    [quote author=Radd Cruisers link=board=21;threadid=10493;start=msg94117#msg94117 date=1074806718]I do know of a person in from Eastern Canada who used a RI, he wrote a letter to the folks at the border for a Canadian sold HJ60. He claimed a board gives you thumbs up or down on importing the vehicle on the petition?

    Does this sound correct?

    Rob
    [/quote]

    NEVER heard of it, from reading the laws and having done 5 border crossings now I do not believe that it can happen that way, customs has to file an EPA and DOT form stating that the vehicle conforms and how they know it conforms (or that it is exempt and why) and the only way customs knows is if the vehicle already has manufacturer affixed US cert tags, or if an RI takes a out bond assuring them it comforms, or if they see a letter from the manufacturer stating by VIN that it conforms.
     
  17. 70seriesaddict

    70seriesaddict

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    [quote author=semlin link=board=21;threadid=10493;start=msg95342#msg95342 date=1075074586]
    Alex, you state that "A vehicle not manufactured for the Canadian or US market may ONLY be imported into Canada if it is 15 years old or older".

    I am curious whether you are sure of that. I am Canadian and live in Vancouver, I have seen a Canadian registered 80 series VX turbo diesel (LHD) here in town and it is definitely not a mine truck, and I have also seen a 1995 rhd 70 series pickup for sale locally, which must be an import. These are less than 15 years old. Is it perhaps possible to bring in newer vehicles using the same type of exceptions or petitions as you described for the US?

    Also, I am curious about the US exemption list. I notice that the NHTSA website lists some "landcruisers" as exempt but gives no model numbers, but how can you find out which landcruiser models these are?

    Finally, I imagine, for example, that someone like mustang connection with a big stock would have hired an RI to petition a RHD bj74 into the US by now and then would trumpet the fact that they are US importable. Why isn't this being done?

    thanks for the great information
    [/quote]

    First off, Bruce already answered the first part of your question.

    Secondly, there is no exemption list, the NHTSA list oyu looking at is the eligibility list if a vehicle shows up on the NHTSA list ALL that means is that it CAN be imported but it STILL has to go through an importer and STILL has to be modified.

    Lastly, the cost to petition is minimum of 5k on top of the importation cost and the emissions testing, I would guess that all totalled to petition a RHD and import one it would tack on another about another 17K to the price, an awful lot ON TOP of the purchase price making it one heck of an expensive 15 year old or older Cruisers. The best thing to do is do three at a time and file a cert of conformity for the emissions, I believe there would be little extra cost to do three at a time and the cost could then be spread out over three vehicles. But it still adds a lot to the cost, an added expense that few buyers may be willing to pay. I do believe it should be done sometime and I would be willing to work with an RI and the people who want to import the Cruisers to help get it done.
     
  18. Radd Cruisers

    Radd Cruisers

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    Hit me off line and I will give you his name and if I can find it if not It will put you in touch with the owner of the HJ60 in Dallas. I am pretty sure I printed off the information, I will go through my files.

    :beer: :beer:
    Rob
     
  19. 70seriesaddict

    70seriesaddict

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    [quote author=Jim_Chow link=board=21;threadid=10493;start=msg96655#msg96655 date=1075358065]
    Would there be any chance you could ask your EPA contact if anyone has (or if it's possible) to import a left-hand drive international spec (extreme condition) 2003-2004 Landcruiser HZJ105? (preferably the one w/o the rear jump seats and barn doors). I know they don't come w/ airbags, but I see on toyota's website that they have a global safety standard in that they find the strictest international safety standards and beat it. In the photo, they show a LC 100 body, so that would suggest the side impact beams are a given in the 100 series. As far as emissions testing, many states are very lax on diesel emissions (CA doesn't have any test, AZ just requires 30% opacity). Wouldn't the EPA test for diesels be incredibly easy to pass, like a joke? Also, would you know if the international spec cruisers would have to have their window glass changed? They have this coating on the windshield so if you're caught in a riot and someone throws a brick into your windshield, it won't cave it or shatter.

    --Jim
    [/quote]

    There currently no petitions on file that I know of past 1996, so no could have done so legally yet. A 105 can be retrofitted with airbags from a 105 from a country where they require airbags, this is different than with the 70 series as 70 series are available in NO country with an airbag. So no problem there. Emissions is a matter of testing and filing a certificate of conformity, about a 5k process assuming there are no modifications required. The emissions testing/proof of compliance is not for state and local govs., it is for the EPA and is required no matter if the state of destination tests or not, has lax standards or not. Side safety impact beams are not a big issue as they are a somewhat easy retrofit plus they are required in other countries so a 105 can be had with them already installed. Even 70 series now come with safety impact beams in them in OZ.
     
  20. 70seriesaddict

    70seriesaddict

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    [quote author=lss link=board=21;threadid=10493;start=msg107238#msg107238 date=1077201238]
    Hello,I am an american living in Guinea Africa,Landcrusiers of all types are common.In fact yesterday I bought a 97 lc 75 the pickup version.It was owned by debeers the diamond company.I have always wanted one of these trucks but as you know they are not easy to find in the state.What I would like to know is can you tell me more about bring the parts in the U.S. to build a truck.I was thinking I would like to bring one Home in a couple years.Shane
    [/quote]Some people are lucky enough to import whole vehicles as parts, others have to tear them down, depends on the customs agent. Safest is to have it torn down some, motor or motor/tranny removed and SHIPPED IN SEPARATE CRATE, another thing I have heard is cutting the springs. Best bet is to call the port of entry you would be using and talk to a supervisor and ask what their policy is on importing a vehicle as parts, and get it in writing so if a clueless officer gives you a hard time when you get there with the vehicle you can prove what their sup. said. In most states it is possible for an individual to licence/title a vehicle that they have put together from parts, but each state's laws vary andit is important to kow your own states law FIRST before doing it. Where would you be moving back to in the states? stickboy on the forum here is doing this right now, he'd be a good source of info.