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Sunday, January 15, 2017

State Titled Nissan Skyline : Importing Loopholes : How to Get Around the Import Laws

C-West Demo R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R
State Titled Nissan Skyline : Importing Loopholes : How to Get Around the Import Laws

A lot of people here in the USA are looking for ways around the importing laws.  They want to find a loophole, a way to import a car and drive it here in the US. The thing is, the laws are pretty well defined.


  1. State Titled Cars are Not Federally Legal
  2. There are No Loopholes
  3. Getting around the laws, would normally be called illegal

People conveniently don't follow laws when the laws don't suit them. Their feeling is they are doing no harm, leave me alone. Their attitude is often, "none of your business." They would be wrong on both counts.


We are not fans of the laws, if there were legal ways around the current regulations, we would have found them. While the laws work for and against us, doing illegal things, is still illegal, no matter how you justify it to yourself. Our biggest issue isn't the first guy that imports the car. It is the 2nd or 3rd guy. The guy that has no reason to believe the car was illegally imported. That guy, he is the guy that gets screwed when the car is seized. The first guy got his money, and essentially scammed the 2nd or 3rd owner out of that money by selling an illegally imported car.

Under 49 U.S.C. § 30112(a), a person may not permanently import into the United States a motor vehicle manufactured after the date that an applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) takes effect unless the vehicle complies with the standard and is so certified by its original manufacturer. This prohibition applies to both new and used motor vehicles, but does not apply to motor vehicles that are at least 25 years old (based on the month and year of manufacture).


https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2009-title49/pdf/USCODE-2009-title49-subtitleVI-partA-chap301-subchapII-sec30112.pdf


No you can not legally import a car under 25 years old to the US, and store it here until it hits 25 years old.  The actual import of the car under 25 is the illegal side. That is assuming it isn't a Show or Display, Race car, or Non- Conforming Vehicle capable of being brought into compliance.



The path of least resistance, are cars over 25 years old. At 25 years old they are NHTSA exempt.  NHTSA handles safety type regulations through the FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards).




The NHTSA is one third of importing requirements. The next third is the EPA. The EPA governs emissions. This isn't your state requirements, or state testing, this is Federal Emissions as part of the Clean Air Act. In a typical government scenario, EPA says that cars over 21 years old in original configuration are exempt from importing requirements.


Then US Customs and Border Protection is the agency that controls the import. They police the ports. A customs broker submits paperwork confirming a vehicle meets the above requirements, Customs collects a tariff, and they release the vehicle. Occasionally they inspect vehicles. Occasionally they seize vehicles. How did you get an R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R?
Midnight Purple II Vspec. Eligible to legally import under Show or Display

Every shipment is electronically filed with CBP, and this documentation is part of what allows the shipping companies to release the cargo. If the documentation is forged, or false, and a physical examination of the goods/container at the port does not occur, then the black market, or contraband cargo could be released.

We have people ask us all the time about vehicles, that were not legally imported. It happens, there are a lot of shipments that come to the US, out of the thousands and thousands of containers that come in some will slip though.

When customs seizes your R34, they will tow it like this. 
 

Just because someone snuck something though the border, it doesn't make that item legal. Is my imported car legal?

For Import - Federal Agency
   a) US Customs - Department of Homeland Security
   b) NHTSA - Federal vehicle safety standards
   c) EPA- Federal emissions requirements 40 CFR Part 85

For Registration - State Agency
  Individual State Requirements
    a) Registration requirements - normally some kind of Department of Motor Vehicles
    b) Emissions Requirements - Vary state to state. Some are state run, some are not.

In order to have a road registered legal vehicle, you have to meet all 5 requirements above. That is US Customs, NHTSA, EPA, State registration, and State Emissions requirements.

You can have a vehicle that is imported to the US legally. That is, meet US Customs, NHTSA, and EPA requirements, and not be road registered. This would be a legal import. If you chose not to register or drive the car on the road, then that would be your own prerogative. Stick it in the corner, make it into wall art.

You can NOT have a vehicle that was NOT imported legally though US Customs, NHTSA, and EPA, and then road register it. Although it happens all the time, this type of import is illegal. Cars get seized, cars get crushed. Most people get away with it, at least for a while, but eventually the illegal imports catch up to them. The truth is that people brag about the illegal cars they have, not about the illegal cars they get seized.

Cizeta V16 Seized by ICE

State Tilted Cars. Also called Illegally Imported Cars.  If as above, the cars were not brought in correctly, they are illegal. "Under 49 U.S.C. § 30112(a), a person may not permanently import into the United States a motor vehicle manufactured after the date that an applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) takes effect unless the vehicle complies with the standard and is so certified by its original manufacturer."

A state titled car, or illegally imported car can never be legal. When it turns 25 years old, it does not just become legal.  A car over 25 years old is entered into the US by customs, with the HS7 from the NHTSA, and 3520-1 from the EPA filled out and applied to the vehicle. Tariff is paid, and the vehicle is allowed a consumption entry. Absent these items, just turning 25 years old does not make it legal.

Non Conforming Vehicles. There is a way to bring non-conforming vehicles into compliance.  Just because a car on this list, it doesn't mean that it is fine to import as is. The vehicle would need to be modified to meet FMVSS, and if under 21 years old, would have to meet EPA requirements.   We see more and more people think that because a car is on this list, they can just import it. Not at all true. You need to contract with a Registered Importer than can bring the vehicle into compliance.  There are very few RI's that can, and will do the work required. Often this cost exceeds the cost of the vehicle.

Show or Display.  Your car is probably not a "show car." You can't just decide that you are going to bypass regulations because you aren't going to drive it on the street.  Show or Display is a very specific NHTSA or FMVSS exemption based on special vehicles. The type of vehicle needs to be approved, and the individual vehicle needs to be approved on a case by case basis.  Eligible vehicles for Show or Display are here.

In determining whether a vehicle is eligible for importation for show or display, NHTSA will consider the following factors, among others:

1. Whether a vehicle of the same make, model, and model year was manufactured and certified for sale in the United States.
2. Whether a vehicle of the same make, model, and model year has been determined eligible for importation pursuant to 49 CFR Part 593.
3. Whether the vehicle is currently in production.
4. Whether more than 500 of the vehicles were produced.
5. Whether the vehicle is a kit car, replica, or special construction vehicle.

Porsche 959 was the first Show or Display car. Now over 25 years old.



If the answer to any of the above is affirmative, you should not expect NHTSA to grant permission for importation. If the answer to item 4 is affirmative, the applicant must establish that the vehicle is of exceptional technological and/or historical significance.

On Road Use for Show or Display. A vehicle eligible for Show or Display may receive NHTSA approval to be driven on the highway. The odometer must not register more than 2,500 miles in a 12-month period. NHTSA approval of limited on-road use is to allow the vehicle to be driven to and from nearby displays of similar automobiles. Another reason permission is granted is to maintain the vehicle’s engine, braking, lighting, and other dynamic systems in good working order. The vehicle is still required to meet EPA requirements. If the original engine in the vehicle will be replaced with a non-original engine to meet EPA requirements, it must be identified in your application since it may impact on the technological or historical significance of the vehicle.
Show or Display Type approval letter on Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO. 




Kit Cars. The production, sale and importation of vehicle parts (engines, transmissions, chassis, vehicle bodies, etc.) are not regulated by EPA because parts are not considered motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act. However if the parts constitute a disassembled vehicle or an approximate disassembled vehicle, the combination is considered a motor vehicle under the Clean Air Act. Any attempt to use this policy to circumvent the Clean Air Act or the Imports regulations will be considered a violation of the Clean Air Act and will be strictly enforced. An example of such circumvention is:  A kit car maker who also provides the engine and transmission before or after production/importation of the body/chassis.  More kit car information. 



Shell, Chassis, Body Importing.  If you import a body, which if it is absent engine and transmission, and absent anything regulated by the NHTSA, is that legal? Tricky question. Here is the trick, why was it imported like that?


According to the EPA 3520-1 disassembled vehicles, and kit cars should be declared to customs on that form. What constitutes a disassembled vehicle? These are all tricky questions, that most people manage to perjure themselves with the answers. The whole reason they are importing the shell, chassis or body, is because they want to reassemble it as a vehicle, hereby violating the Clean Air Act. They took it apart, and imported it as "parts" to bypass importing regulations. If they weren't looking to bypass regulations, then why were the "parts" imported like that?



VIN Swap.  This is the worst of the worst. If you see a car that is a VIN swap, get on your bike and head out of there as fast as possible. Most law enforcement treat a VIN swap as a stolen car. Not something you want to hear. Not something you want someone to brag to you about. This Land Rover Defender, was supposedly crushed because of VIN tampering.





State Assigned VIN. Can I have two VIN's on my car? NO.  They may have some specific title requirements, but please read this newsletter from the NHTSA before they "assign" a VIN to your vehicle. At a state DMV it is easier for the person at the desk to deny you, than help you. http://www.importavehicle.info/2014/03/can-i-have-two-vins-on-my-car-or-vin.html



Race Car or Track Car.  Another one of, you probably don't have a "race car."  Just because you are going to race it or drive it on the track, doesn't mean it is one. Now we are getting into semantics when we say, there is no such thing as a Track Car. People ask us constantly about buying or importing a Track Car. Track Car being a vehicle they drive exclusively on the track, aka not a street car. However, for the NHTSA, or the EPA, there is no such car listed. They only list vehicles for racing, not track use. There are legal ways to import cars, and illegal ways to import cars. Any idiot can import a car illegally. Its much more difficult to do it correctly, get all the correct permissions, and have a car you can legally own, vs a car that could be seized and crushed.

Military.  We did six years in the Navy 1991-1997. If there was a legal way to import a vehicle as part of the military, we would have done it. However, there isn't.  Sometimes people see some of the foreign military exemptions, or hear sea stories about friends, of friends, uncles, cousins, mother that did it, and get way too excited. http://www.importavehicle.info/2010/05/people-are-so-very-confused.html

No you can not legally import a car under 25 years old to the US, and store it here until it hits 25 years old.  The actual import of the car under 25 is the illegal side. That is assuming it isn't a Show or Display, Race car, or Non- Conforming Vehicle capable of being brought into compliance.

Email or call us for more information. sales@importavehicle.com or 844-523-2233

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