Information Re: Importing to the USA and Complete DIY How-To

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No first-hand knowledge, since I've never bought or imported an Alu-Cab (yet). I do know a guy who's successfully imported a Troopy with a pop-top and Customs didn't care about it at all.

From a legal standpoint, they're mostly concerned with modifications to original emissions and safety equipment, but from a practical standpoint, they don't really have the bandwidth to catch every single detail of every make, year, and model of vehicle they see.

That’s the way I’ve come to understand all of the documentation as well.

While it was a factory option, Toyota Hiace and some other variants can be legally imported with a pop top roof, which leads me to believe there’s allowance for it.
 

REDrum

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From a legal standpoint, they're mostly concerned with modifications to original emissions and safety equipment
Agreed, the camper is an accessory, not OEM, so not a safety or emissions issue. That said they may eye-ball it for tariff.
 
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phoenix
I am trying to export my 2013 Lexus LX 570 to Canada, and need to reconfigure the odometer from miles to kms.

I couldn’t find a way to do it in the vehicle settings and the only answer I got from dealerships is to get the instrument cluster changed, which I don’t want to do.

Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
 

REDrum

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I am trying to export my 2013 Lexus LX 570 to Canada, and need to reconfigure the odometer from miles to kms.

I couldn’t find a way to do it in the vehicle settings and the only answer I got from dealerships is to get the instrument cluster changed, which I don’t want to do.

Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
While this is an import to US thread, I have heard of this before (freind who moved to Quebec from Boston years ago), and they did end up swapping instrument cluster/odometer. And, IIRC, had to document the miles to kilometer conversion formally with the dealer and law enforcement. Cant recall if it was done in US or in Can.
 
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While this is an import to US thread, I have heard of this before (freind who moved to Quebec from Boston years ago), and they did end up swapping instrument cluster/odometer. And, IIRC, had to document the miles to kilometer conversion formally with the dealer and law enforcement. Cant recall if it was done in US or in Can.
Sorry for spamming, I am kind of desperate at the moment. It sucks that changing the cluster is the only way.
 

REDrum

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Sorry for spamming, I am kind of desperate at the moment. It sucks that changing the cluster is the only way.
I'm not saying its the only way, but I know people have gone that way. At least there is a way
 
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I'm not saying its the only way, but I know people have gone that way. At least there is a way
Just came out of a Lexus dealership and they couldn’t find a way to do it either other than suggesting to change the instrument cluster. 😭
 

WarDamnEagle

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Just came out of a Lexus dealership and they couldn’t find a way to do it either other than suggesting to change the instrument cluster. 😭
Is it a Canadian legal requirement or just a preference?
 

mudgudgeon

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I'm curious to know if anyone has imported a vehicle and shipped it stateside in a shipping container along with personal and household goods?

From initial inquires, I believe it is doable. I know with RORO, you can't have any goods in the vehicle.

I'll be immigrating to USA in the next year, and looking to ship my '93 80 series in a 20' container along with personal belongings.

I'm assuming I'll need to list all items on the BoL?

I was contemplating also shipping a spare turbo charged 1HZ engine for a potential diesel swap in the future, but will cross the swap off the list after reading @gilmorneau posts on page 1.
Is it feasible to ship the engine along with personal goods with the intention of selling it in the states?
 

REDrum

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I'm curious to know if anyone has imported a vehicle and shipped it stateside in a shipping container along with personal and household goods?
I attempted to do this about 10 years ago, and shipper (Crowely) strongly advised against it. Claimed complicated paperwork and very slow percolation thru US CBP. Said was lower cost and less paper to ship in two separate containers. I ship goods from central America to US regularly, but not combined with vehicles.
 

mudgudgeon

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I attempted to do this about 10 years ago, and shipper (Crowely) strongly advised against it. Claimed complicated paperwork and very slow percolation thru US CBP. Said was lower cost and less paper to ship in two separate containers. I ship goods from central America to US regularly, but not combined with vehicles.

Thanks for the comment.

Tricky to weigh up.
Shipping RORO seems the easiest for the vehicle.
Personal goods are not enough to justify a container on their own. Pallet shipping or partial container load is looking to be almost as costly as a full container.
 

REDrum

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Personal goods are not enough to justify a container on their own. Pallet shipping or partial container load is looking to be almost as costly as a full container.
International shipping its complicated, very complicated. No easy or set up with any sort of common sense. When I ship a couple dozen bags (quintal bags) of green coffee (less than a full container and shared with others) from Central America to US, in order for the container to quickly (and quickly is < 1 month) clear US CBP I "sell" the coffee to the shipper so that they "own" my coffee all the contents of the container. Once it clears CBP in US I buy back the coffee + shipping & import fees.
 

WarDamnEagle

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I'm curious to know if anyone has imported a vehicle and shipped it stateside in a shipping container along with personal and household goods?

From initial inquires, I believe it is doable. I know with RORO, you can't have any goods in the vehicle.

I'll be immigrating to USA in the next year, and looking to ship my '93 80 series in a 20' container along with personal belongings.

I'm assuming I'll need to list all items on the BoL?

I was contemplating also shipping a spare turbo charged 1HZ engine for a potential diesel swap in the future, but will cross the swap off the list after reading @gilmorneau posts on page 1.
Is it feasible to ship the engine along with personal goods with the intention of selling it in the states?
I just went through this thought process as we shipped household goods and two Land Cruisers from KSA to the US earlier this year. It appeared to be technically possible to mix and mingle but somewhat challenging as they have to be able to access the vehicle unimpeded to check the VIN, etc. I think you are better off with RORO and sorting the household goods separately. Disclaimer: I am not an expert by any means.
 
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Hi all,

Just moved to the US (Madison, Wisconsin area), from the Netherlands. Shipped our household goods in shared container, which took 3,5 months to arrive ;). We are here to work for 2 years, and we plan to travel for 1 year after finishing work. We really want to do our travelling in our beloved Land Cruisers (1994, 4.2 l Diesel - 1HZ engine) and are therefor now deep diving in the whole importing process. And this post was really helpful, until the part were we need to register the vehicle to Wisconsin License plates!

So far, most people told us it would not be ANY problem to get it in the US... And I think getting it in the US is indeed not an issue, because it is a 1994 built, and engine, drivetrain, etc are all original. It even got a Toyota Benelux Certification (attest) for the RV built on it! But to register it on Wisconsin Plates might be the difficult part. On the wisconsin DMV website I read that it will not be accepted. So far I have not found anybody in the Wisconsin area with any experience, so I hope you can help!

What is your read on the DMW website? ?? How to get a 'Registered Importer label (RI)'??

Any assistance on this matter would be helpful. Already got some help through other channels (FB), but I'm now looking for alternative options to get it on US plates. What options do I have to get it registered in the US? Can I register it in a state where I'm not living, and then change it to Wisconsin plates? Are there any companies who could help me with this process? Time is ticking, because we are planning to go to the Netherlands in February, and we would like to put it on a RoRo then, so we can enjoy it during the 2023 spring and summer!
PS:
- we are here for more then 1 year, so we can't leave it on NL plates
- we are planning to sell it, after we did our 1 year trip. It should be getting a new owner, to experience it as we have done so far! You don't need much in your live to have the greatest time ever! It is the smallest house you can imagine, with everything in it you need!

20210707_211210.jpg
attest.JPG
20210709_190038.jpg

interiour.JPG
interiour2.JPG
 

gilmorneau

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What is your read on the DMW website? ?? How to get a 'Registered Importer label (RI)'??

For those not inclined to read it, the Wisconsin DMV website linked, among other things, says this:

"The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows for vehicles to be imported into the country once the vehicle has reached a certain age. However, NHTSA and EPA are not responsible for regulating the operation of motor vehicles on public roads in the U.S. or for titling or registering motor vehicles for such operation: that is the responsibility of the individual states."

Which means that Wisconsin is making its own rules regarding which vehicles it will allow to be registered/licensed there, regardless of the Federal rules pertaining to importing. So while it's perfectly legal to import your car into the US, Wisconsin is free to decide if they want it licensed for use on their roads, and it looks like they don't.

The Federal government will grant 25+ year old vehicles an exemption to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, but the State of Wisconsin requires proof of FMVSS compliance for any age vehicle, if I'm reading their website correctly. The proof they require is in the form of either: a Federal Certification Label (which only cars manufactured for the US market will have); or: a Registered Importer label.

Your car won't have the FCL, and there's no way short of counterfeiting to get one, so the RI label is your only hope in WI. The only way I'm aware of to obtain an RI label is to have your car imported through the services of a Registered Importer, who will see that your car is modified to comply with all FMVSS in effect as of the car's manufacture date. This can include mundane things like swapping the speedometer for one that reads in miles rather than kilometers, or replacing the headlights with sealed beam types, but it can also include some big ticket items like side impact protection and airbags. If your car is a 1994, you needn't worry about airbags, since the FMVSS pertaining to them wasn't in effect when your car was manufactured, but your car might require side impact protection, the FMVSS for which was implemented beginning in 1994. There would probably be other things, too. Some simple, some expensive or maybe impossible. Best bet would be to contact a Registered Importer and start asking questions if you choose to go this route.

The NHTSA has an updated list of Registered Importers here:


If you haven't already, find one near you (I didn't see any in Wisconsin, but there's a few in nearby states) and give them a call. Be aware that a Registered Importer who's not in Wisconsin might tell you you're wasting your time, since 25+ year old cars don't need to comply with FMVSS in most other states. Hopefully, they'll be familiar with Wisconsin's more restrictive laws.

I briefly thought they (WI) might let you get away with registering/licensing it as a collector car, but more careful reading of the relevant code reveals this:

“Special interest vehicle" means...A motor vehicle of any age, of which the body has not been altered from the original"

It would be hard to argue that your car's body hasn't been altered from the original, though I suppose you could try. Worst they can do is say "no".

It is possible to register/license your car in another state with more lax regulations, but there are a couple of potential pitfalls to this. One, Wisconsin has rules regarding how long you're allowed to reside in WI with a car that's not plated there (looks like 60 days). You could simply flaunt this rule--many people do this and the risk is small. The other problem with getting plates in, for example, Montana or Florida, is that it won't change the fact that your car doesn't meet Wisconsin's rules. While you wouldn't need the FCL or RI label in other states, you'd still need it for Wisconsin if you try and transfer and you wouldn't have it.

I think your interpretation of the Wisconsin DMV website is correct, and I'm reading it the same way, but you might try calling the number on their website and see if you can reach anyone who's well versed in gray market vehicles that have been imported under the 25 year Federal exemption. Again, it can't hurt to ask and it's always best to go the the source.

Sorry I couldn't be more help. Anyone on here from Wisconsin and driving an import?
 
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For those not inclined to read it, the Wisconsin DMV website linked, among other things, says this:

"The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows for vehicles to be imported into the country once the vehicle has reached a certain age. However, NHTSA and EPA are not responsible for regulating the operation of motor vehicles on public roads in the U.S. or for titling or registering motor vehicles for such operation: that is the responsibility of the individual states."

Which means that Wisconsin is making its own rules regarding which vehicles it will allow to be registered/licensed there, regardless of the Federal rules pertaining to importing. So while it's perfectly legal to import your car into the US, Wisconsin is free to decide if they want it licensed for use on their roads, and it looks like they don't.

The Federal government will grant 25+ year old vehicles an exemption to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, but the State of Wisconsin requires proof of FMVSS compliance for any age vehicle, if I'm reading their website correctly. The proof they require is in the form of either: a Federal Certification Label (which only cars manufactured for the US market will have); or: a Registered Importer label.

Your car won't have the FCL, and there's no way short of counterfeiting to get one, so the RI label is your only hope in WI. The only way I'm aware of to obtain an RI label is to have your car imported through the services of a Registered Importer, who will see that your car is modified to comply with all FMVSS in effect as of the car's manufacture date. This can include mundane things like swapping the speedometer for one that reads in miles rather than kilometers, or replacing the headlights with sealed beam types, but it can also include some big ticket items like side impact protection and airbags. If your car is a 1994, you needn't worry about airbags, since the FMVSS pertaining to them wasn't in effect when your car was manufactured, but your car might require side impact protection, the FMVSS for which was implemented beginning in 1994. There would probably be other things, too. Some simple, some expensive or maybe impossible. Best bet would be to contact a Registered Importer and start asking questions if you choose to go this route.

The NHTSA has an updated list of Registered Importers here:


If you haven't already, find one near you (I didn't see any in Wisconsin, but there's a few in nearby states) and give them a call. Be aware that a Registered Importer who's not in Wisconsin might tell you you're wasting your time, since 25+ year old cars don't need to comply with FMVSS in most other states. Hopefully, they'll be familiar with Wisconsin's more restrictive laws.

I briefly thought they (WI) might let you get away with registering/licensing it as a collector car, but more careful reading of the relevant code reveals this:

“Special interest vehicle" means...A motor vehicle of any age, of which the body has not been altered from the original"

It would be hard to argue that your car's body hasn't been altered from the original, though I suppose you could try. Worst they can do is say "no".

It is possible to register/license your car in another state with more lax regulations, but there are a couple of potential pitfalls to this. One, Wisconsin has rules regarding how long you're allowed to reside in WI with a car that's not plated there (looks like 60 days). You could simply flaunt this rule--many people do this and the risk is small. The other problem with getting plates in, for example, Montana or Florida, is that it won't change the fact that your car doesn't meet Wisconsin's rules. While you wouldn't need the FCL or RI label in other states, you'd still need it for Wisconsin if you try and transfer and you wouldn't have it.

I think your interpretation of the Wisconsin DMV website is correct, and I'm reading it the same way, but you might try calling the number on their website and see if you can reach anyone who's well versed in gray market vehicles that have been imported under the 25 year Federal exemption. Again, it can't hurt to ask and it's always best to go the the source.

Sorry I couldn't be more help. Anyone on here from Wisconsin and driving an import?

Good analysis. Difficult situation.
 
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I think your interpretation of the Wisconsin DMV website is correct, and I'm reading it the same way, but you might try calling the number on their website and see if you can reach anyone who's well versed in gray market vehicles that have been imported under the 25 year Federal exemption. Again, it can't hurt to ask and it's always best to go the the source.

Sorry I couldn't be more help. Anyone on here from Wisconsin and driving an import?

First of all @gilmorneau , thanks for the detailed e-mail and research. Much appreciated!!! Although not the news I want te hear, it's better to hear it now before we start the whole shipping process... I'm just puzzled by this, and I think I need a couple of days to rethink the whole situations, and work on the scenario's that are still in play to make it happen for us. Our planned trip will start in april-2024, so we still have some time to figure it out!

I am also still wondering why everybody I've spoken so far keeps telling "That it is easy! No Worries"... Without knowing the Wisconsin rules. I'm even talking to importers who say they can arrange the whole thing, without any troubles... It will cost me a bit, but they assure me they will fix it... Wondering how they will do it, and if it will be 100% legal if we go down that route. Another thing to investigate!

I will take your advice, and start making some calls in the coming period. Both to the DMV as and a Registered Importer. For sure I will learn from that again.

In the meantime! If there are Wisconsinites reading this, Could you please tell me your experiences?

I will do updates here on the whole situation and progress if any.....
 

gilmorneau

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I am also still wondering why everybody I've spoken so far keeps telling "That it is easy! No Worries"... Without knowing the Wisconsin rules. I'm even talking to importers who say they can arrange the whole thing, without any troubles... It will cost me a bit, but they assure me they will fix it... Wondering how they will do it, and if it will be 100% legal if we go down that route. Another thing to investigate!

I don't know who's telling you it's easy, but have any of the "That's easy! No worries" people you've talked to actually imported gray market vehicles to Wisconsin? If so, they should be a valuable resource and in your place I'd want to buy them a beer and ask them how they did it. If an importer tells you they can arrange the whole thing without any troubles, I'd recommend asking them for details regarding how they (or you) can get it registered/licensed in Wisconsin, considering the information posted on the State of Wisconsin DMV website.

I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but I don't imagine anyone who says it's easy has actually done it. Further, I suspect that if pressed, the importers would concede that they can get the car imported to the USA, but that it would be up to you to get it registered once it's here. Just guesses.

It would not be surprising to me that people outside of Wisconsin would not know anything about the laws there that govern the registration of gray market import vehicles. I didn't until you pointed it out. An importer not based in Wisconsin would likely have no idea about it. A layperson even less so. It's the nature of a constitutional federal republic (such as the USA) that each state is governed independently, making their own laws and regulations. No two states exactly the same.

You have options. Your situation is not impossible and you have time to figure it out. Please do keep us informed.
 
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For those not inclined to read it, the Wisconsin DMV website linked, among other things, says this:

"The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows for vehicles to be imported into the country once the vehicle has reached a certain age. However, NHTSA and EPA are not responsible for regulating the operation of motor vehicles on public roads in the U.S. or for titling or registering motor vehicles for such operation: that is the responsibility of the individual states."

Which means that Wisconsin is making its own rules regarding which vehicles it will allow to be registered/licensed there, regardless of the Federal rules pertaining to importing. So while it's perfectly legal to import your car into the US, Wisconsin is free to decide if they want it licensed for use on their roads, and it looks like they don't.

The Federal government will grant 25+ year old vehicles an exemption to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, but the State of Wisconsin requires proof of FMVSS compliance for any age vehicle, if I'm reading their website correctly. The proof they require is in the form of either: a Federal Certification Label (which only cars manufactured for the US market will have); or: a Registered Importer label.

Your car won't have the FCL, and there's no way short of counterfeiting to get one, so the RI label is your only hope in WI. The only way I'm aware of to obtain an RI label is to have your car imported through the services of a Registered Importer, who will see that your car is modified to comply with all FMVSS in effect as of the car's manufacture date. This can include mundane things like swapping the speedometer for one that reads in miles rather than kilometers, or replacing the headlights with sealed beam types, but it can also include some big ticket items like side impact protection and airbags. If your car is a 1994, you needn't worry about airbags, since the FMVSS pertaining to them wasn't in effect when your car was manufactured, but your car might require side impact protection, the FMVSS for which was implemented beginning in 1994. There would probably be other things, too. Some simple, some expensive or maybe impossible. Best bet would be to contact a Registered Importer and start asking questions if you choose to go this route.

The NHTSA has an updated list of Registered Importers here:


If you haven't already, find one near you (I didn't see any in Wisconsin, but there's a few in nearby states) and give them a call. Be aware that a Registered Importer who's not in Wisconsin might tell you you're wasting your time, since 25+ year old cars don't need to comply with FMVSS in most other states. Hopefully, they'll be familiar with Wisconsin's more restrictive laws.

I briefly thought they (WI) might let you get away with registering/licensing it as a collector car, but more careful reading of the relevant code reveals this:

“Special interest vehicle" means...A motor vehicle of any age, of which the body has not been altered from the original"

It would be hard to argue that your car's body hasn't been altered from the original, though I suppose you could try. Worst they can do is say "no".

It is possible to register/license your car in another state with more lax regulations, but there are a couple of potential pitfalls to this. One, Wisconsin has rules regarding how long you're allowed to reside in WI with a car that's not plated there (looks like 60 days). You could simply flaunt this rule--many people do this and the risk is small. The other problem with getting plates in, for example, Montana or Florida, is that it won't change the fact that your car doesn't meet Wisconsin's rules. While you wouldn't need the FCL or RI label in other states, you'd still need it for Wisconsin if you try and transfer and you wouldn't have it.

I think your interpretation of the Wisconsin DMV website is correct, and I'm reading it the same way, but you might try calling the number on their website and see if you can reach anyone who's well versed in gray market vehicles that have been imported under the 25 year Federal exemption. Again, it can't hurt to ask and it's always best to go the the source.

Sorry I couldn't be more help. Anyone on here from Wisconsin and driving an import?

You have options. Your situation is not impossible and you have time to figure it out. Please do keep us informed.

Yes for sure... Will be putting our options together. There is also the option to sell the vehicle in the Netherlands, and buy one in the US, but for that we need to be able to let go of this one-of-a-king vehicle... Do you think there could be an option I register it with a US person, put it on a different name till the time we are ready for the 1 year trip? It then needs to be somebody in a different state, that can be trusted... In other words.. If I was to ship the Vehicle to the US, would I be able to 'Sell' it after I've got it through customs?
 

gilmorneau

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There is also the option to sell the vehicle in the Netherlands
Up to you. I don't think you'll need to unless you want to.

Do you think there could be an option I register it with a US person, put it on a different name till the time we are ready for the 1 year trip?
It would need to be someone you feel you can trust a lot. If the car is registered in someone else's name, it's legally their car to do with what they please. If they drive it, and especially if they wreck it, you could have some serious issues to resolve. I can't say I'd recommend this option unless maybe you have a trusted family member in a different state, or your best friend, or something like that. If you knew such a person in another state, you could just register the car in your name using their address. Not technically fully legal, but it doesn't exactly put you in the same category as murderers or drug lords, crime-wise. Same risk as noted below.

As mentioned previously, it is possible to register it in your name but in another state. Several states offer the option of vehicle registration for non-residents. Google is your friend for this. You do run the risk that if the address on your vehicle registration doesn't match the one on your driver's license, you may be questioned about it in the event you get pulled over by the police for anything. Have a convincing story (maybe you have a 2nd home in that other state?) and a plan for what you can do to resolve the issue if necessary. Chances are no one would care, but don't come crying to me if they do. :p

If I was to ship the Vehicle to the US, would I be able to 'Sell' it after I've got it through customs?
If by this you mean can you sell the car without having first registered it, the answer is probably yes. Some importers will simply hand over to buyers the entire pile of import paperwork and let the buyer sort things out. Note that some (probably most) buyers will balk at this, preferring instead to receive a title for the vehicle upon purchase. Can't blame them. I wouldn't buy a car without title, either.

Which brings me to the important distinction between a title and a registration. A title proves ownership, while registration allows for the operation of the vehicle on public roads. It is possible in many states (Colorado where I live, and--good news for you--Wisconsin) to obtain a title proving ownership without needing to get the vehicle registered or plated. Without registration, you wouldn't be able to legally drive the car, but if you had a title, you would be able to sell it (or "sell" it).

Can't help but think there's a solution in all of this for you.
 

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