Information Re: Importing to the USA (2 Viewers)

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I know that’s a lot of reading, but I tried to include anything pertinent that might be useful as reference. If there’s some glaring omission, please let me know and I’ll try to address it. Otherwise, I hope this proves useful for anyone interested in owning a foreign-market vehicle.
Are there any issues importing vehicles where VIN numbers don’t match what’s in the vehicle?For example importing a land cruiser with an engine swap.

Great write up.
 

gilmorneau

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Motor swaps are technically not allowed. EPA rules require that the vehicle's engine and drivetrain be in "original unmodified condition". They do allow an exemption for a motor that's been swapped with an identical type of motor (for instance, a new 3B in place of the original 3B, or 3F for 3F, etc.).

From the EPA website: "EPA has long interpreted the equivalence requirement to mean that the engine must be identical to the engine that was originally installed. Such an engine is one that is the same model and configuration as the original engine."

Whether your US Customs inspector will know if the motor in your car is original or not is another question.
 
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Just got word from the logistics agents that the RoRo vessel charges have gone up 100% in price and the 20F and 40F container costs have gone up 200%.
These fess do not include local custom charges..

A 40F container now costs $8.5K compared to $3.2k.. wow wow wow wow

Roro was around $2k now its at $4k. So by the time a vehicle comes in with Roro, you are 6k out of pocket, included Custom fees.
I see the prices of the cars is going to get very very high.. Very unfortunate.. Sad..

What the f*** is going on? All this happened during Covid. What a mess.. best of luck to everyone.. We will see when this will all settle down a bit..
 

gilmorneau

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I'm not getting the same information--still waiting to hear back from some folks, but so far, the only price increases I've confirmed are for Bunker Adjustment Factor (aka BAF, bunkering), which is slated to increase 12% (it's based on oil prices). That's a significant increase, but nothing like what @edmond4822 is talking about. I'll post here if/when I get more details.
 
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I am sorry not to be more clear.

The rates i am getting are for from Middle East. I am not sure of the rates from Europe or other continents. The last time I imported from Europe was 5 years ago.
I am happy @gilmorneau is clearing this up..

Is it possible that the few companies are just hiking there own rates? I have emailed a few new Logistics companies in SA, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman to get their rates just to compare the prices..
 
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Any idea on how you handle customs duties for a vehicle you have owned for some time? Is there like a fair market value or could you use the invoice you paid for it years ago and convert the currency?
 

gilmorneau

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I asked my Customs Broker this a while back on behalf of someone else. Here is her response:

"Is the car over 25yrs old? If so he can bring in and use the blue book value for custom purposes."

You could also use the price listed on your original Bill of Sale if there's no equivalent vehicle in the blue book and assuming you haven't significantly added to or detracted from the car's value since purchasing it. If none of those options are available to you, just declare what you consider to be a reasonable value and be prepared to justify it if asked to.
 
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Does anyone have any experience exporting from Costa Rica to the USA? I am down here now and trying to get a truck back. Any customs contacts/companies in the US would be much appreciated. Trying to figure this all out now.

wondering if driving it may be easier versus risking getting stuck in ports. Besides the danger factor of driving through Central America/Mexico., has anyone heard of the ability to do this? I’d like to just get it into the US then try to deal with the registering/customs situation.
 
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I agree with WarDamnEagle. I also have imported many cars over the years, from Aussie, to JDM, and Euro Cruisers. Almost all done entirely myself. Nonetheless, I learned a ton of stuff from this posting. You've done a fantastic job of laying everything out and answering all the "but what about this idea" questions.

I am going to save this post off so that I can point people here in the future next time I'm asked about importing Cruisers.

Thank you for the well-written hard work.

-Sean
 
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Does anyone have any experience exporting from Costa Rica to the USA? I am down here now and trying to get a truck back. Any customs contacts/companies in the US would be much appreciated. Trying to figure this all out now.

wondering if driving it may be easier versus risking getting stuck in ports. Besides the danger factor of driving through Central America/Mexico., has anyone heard of the ability to do this? I’d like to just get it into the US then try to deal with the registering/customs situation.
If you are from East Coast, New Jersey, try contacting a trustable logistics company to help you with Import in your city.

if you want help from West Coast companies, you can contact Car Shipping Import-Export Information | Schumacher Cargo Logistics - https://www.schumachercargo.com/usa-car-imports/us-importing-exporting.html or Car Transport - International Shipping Company | CFR Rinkens - https://www.cfrrinkens.com. These companies can help you import your car. Its your choice at which US Port you like to pick up your car once the car has arrived with vessel.

I doubt there is any big risks in driving your car across countries in Central America. The issue is that you might not be able to drive the car into the United States without US customs release.

BoL
 

gilmorneau

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I’d like to just get it into the US then try to deal with the registering/customs situation.

--Edit-- (deleted incorrect information)

If you're a US citizen, traveling in Costa Rica, and want to buy a truck and drive it back to the USA, it's a little more complicated. To drive it back, you'd probably need a carnet for each country you pass through. Relatively easy if it's your truck (registered to you in CR), but I'm not sure how you'd get the paperwork for transiting no less than 4 countries with a truck that's not registered to you. Never tried it.

As much as I'm all for an adventure, your easiest method to get it back to the USA would probably be to ship it, rather than drive it. Put it in a container and ship it to Newark. Then have a US-based Customs Broker clear it through for you so you can pick it up at the port.

Ironically, once it's yours and legally registered in the USA, you'd have no trouble at all driving it back to Costa Rica.

Some info and contacts you might find useful are here:
 
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SNLC

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Unfortunately, "getting it into the US" necessarily means dealing with the "Customs situation". You can't just cross the border into the USA with any old car, and tell them at the border "I'll deal with clearing it through Customs later". They just don't work that way. The good news is, if you can get it to the border, you can clear it through Customs yourself. There's some bureaucracy, but it's doable. Mostly the same procedure as outlined in this thread.

If you're a US citizen, traveling in Costa Rica, and want to buy a truck and drive it back to the USA, it's a little more complicated. To drive it back, you'd probably need a carnet for each country you pass through. Relatively easy if it's your truck (registered to you in CR), but I'm not sure how you'd get the paperwork for transiting no less than 4 countries with a truck that's not registered to you. Never tried it.

As much as I'm all for an adventure, your easiest method to get it back to the USA would probably be to ship it, rather than drive it. Put it in a container and ship it to Newark. Then have a US-based Customs Broker clear it through for you so you can pick it up at the port.

Ironically, once it's yours and legally registered in the USA, you'd have no trouble at all driving it back to Costa Rica.

Some info and contacts you might find useful are here:

This is not correct. Thousands of Mexicans do it every single day.

You are not required to deal with import at any land border. You are required to have insurance on USA roads. You can do your import at any Customs office. We have one here in Boise, Idaho that did the import for me on a Canadian Cruiser. @The Jade Bean did his in Texas at his local Customs office vs at the border when he crossed.

Also I didn’t read the whole thread, most is copy and pasted from federal websites. I don’t see mention of having the vehicle clean at time of import, this is required by law. You are also not supposed to have leaking fluids, old wood or organic materials on or in the vehicle. This does not seem enforced by what some people seem to be importing. I myself have presented proof of fumigation on more than one import though.

Cheers
 

The Jade Bean

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This is not correct. Thousands of Mexicans do it every single day.

You are not required to deal with import at any land border. You are required to have insurance on USA roads. You can do your import at any Customs office. We have one here in Boise, Idaho that did the import for me on a Canadian Cruiser. @The Jade Bean did his in Texas at his local Customs office vs at the border when he crossed.

Also I didn’t read the whole thread, most is copy and pasted from federal websites. I don’t see mention of having the vehicle clean at time of import, this is required by law. You are also not supposed to have leaking fluids, old wood or organic materials on or in the vehicle. This does not seem enforced by what some people seem to be importing. I myself have presented proof of fumigation on more than one import though.

Cheers
Exactly. We drove right over the Mexico border and imported locally in 2017. A friend did the same thing a year later and another friend two years later. I never did the fumigation thing. I did have a run in with a border agent, but the guy was just being a jerk and we got through it.
 
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gilmorneau

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This is not correct. Thousands of Mexicans do it every single day.
I think we're maybe talking about different things. Of course thousands of Mexicans cross the border with their vehicles every day, but I don't think they're all intending to import those cars permanently into the USA as @Ksalamander89 is.

You are not required to deal with import at any land border.
Good to know. My experience is with importing via shipping ports, not overland, so I'm interested to know more about this. I understand that this would be true if the vehicle is registered in your name (in another country), but does the same hold true if you're transporting a car into the US with only a Bill of Sale? My assumption was that @Ksalamander89 is a US resident, traveling in Costa Rica, where he has found a car to buy and would like to drive it back home to the USA and import it permanently. Would he need to register it in his name in CR before making the trip?

@The Jade Bean : Was your vehicle titled/registered in your name for the trip? Or did you just have a Bill of Sale? Or something else to prove ownership? Did you need carnets for transiting each country you passed through?

@LSDbrand : you've done the drive, can you share anything of the procedure?

I don’t see mention of having the vehicle clean at time of import, this is required by law.
A US Department of Agriculture requirement. I'll edit some of the above posts to reflect this.

This does not seem enforced by what some people seem to be importing.
I've never had US Customs look for soil on a car, or even mention it, and have been surprised by how lax their enforcement on this can be. That said, owing to a recent bad experience with this issue, while I'm no longer importing cars, you can bet I'll be powerwashing the living sh*t out any future potential sales.

I myself have presented proof of fumigation on more than one import though.
:angelic:
 

SNLC

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To travel through Latin America by road and cross borders you need to have the vehicle title in hand in your name in country of origin.

There are exceptions such as a “hired driver” of say an overland or travel company who crosses borders but this requires special documents.

Cheers
 

SNLC

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I have done the drive from Panama and back 3.5x, I am extremely familiar with all borders from here to there, the requirements at each border, which country requires insurance and which doesn’t, entering the USA, traveling with your dog and much more. I have also lived in Panama twice and Nicaragua once.

Entering the USA by land on our southern border they are looking for contraband. That is all they have time for or care about. If you want to get your 364 day temp permit at the US border you can but you don’t need that to drive your Costa Rican Cruiser to your house in Florida or whatever. If you want o import your Cruiser at the border you can but I don’t suggest that, much more hassle free at your local customs office. Mine doesn’t even want duties even when I nearly demand they change me for it. To much hassle I guess for a two person customs office. 🤷🏼‍♂️

Cheers
 

SNLC

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Also Canadians are not required to permit their vehicles when driving from Canada to Mexico passing through the USA even if it is not a vehicle that could be imported to the USA.

Go spend some time on the southern USA border, you will see plenty of non US Hiluxs, Rangers and more. There is nothing illegal about driving your Mexican plated Hilux around in the USA while you visit family, go on a road trip or whatever. I have seen one right here in Boise Idaho with Mexican plates. Are you supposed to permit it? Ya supposedly but the only people who seem to do that are global travelers who want to spend 364-days in the USA with their 2020 VDJ79 camper.

Never once have I heard of anyone being busted for driving their CA or Mexican or Canadian vehicle on USA roads. Cops are going to ask the same questions they ask everyone and also ask for the same docs. Registration, proof of insurance and license.

I am also not talking about importing here I am talking about driving around the USA with a non USA vehicle for awhile.

Cheers
 

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