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Import Auto to the US - Vehicle Regulations

Vehicle Importation Guidelines for Vehicles Imported From Canada

All passenger cars, motorcycles, multipurpose vehicles - MPV, or light trucks less than 25 years old imported for personal use (not resale) into the U.S. on a permanent basis from Canada should follow this procedure. This process may also be followed if a vehicle was originally imported from Canada on a temporary basis or if prior DOT or U.S. Customs clearance was not obtained.

  1. Contact the manufacturer of the vehicle to request a letter, having them state if the vehicle complies with all applicable U.S. Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS). The letter from the manufacturer must identify your vehicle by the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). READ THE LETTER CAREFULLY.
  2. If the manufacturer letter states that the vehicle complies with U.S. FMVSS, except for minor labeling requirements, you have an acceptable letter. This letter along with your vehicle registration should be presented to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (Customs) at the border. Customs will review the manufacturer letter to assure that the vehicle complies. (DOT approval of the manufacturer letter was discontinued as of April 8, 1997.)
  3. If the manufacturer letter states that the vehicle meets all U.S. FMVSS, except for the speedometer, or headlights, you may have these components replaced at a dealer authorized by the factory to repair your vehicle. In addition to the documents cited in item 2, above, you must present the invoice for the speedometer or headlight replacement to obtain Customs approval.
  4. If the manufacturer letter states that the vehicle meets all U.S. FMVSS except for FMVSS No. 208 (automatic or passive restraint requirements) you WILL NOT be able to bring your vehicle into the U.S. on a permanent basis unless it is modified by an RI. If an RI is willing to modify the vehicle, it may be expensive and may change your desire to import the vehicle.
  5. If the manufacturer will not issue a letter for your vehicle, the only method to import your vehicle on a permanent basis is to contract with an RI.
  6. EPA approval is also required. You may call the EPA information line at:
    (202) 564-9660.

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