The 2 Agencies Regulating the Import of Vehicles into the U.S.

The 2 Agencies Regulating the Import of Vehicles into the U.S.

Trade Talk Blog


s an importer, you must know and comply with import rules and regulations. And the federal government has several agencies that develop standards and acts to regulate the import of vehicles into the United States.

Together with the import and export community, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) works to ensure compliance with import and export rules and regulations. But while CBP is responsible for enforcing customs and trade laws, collecting customs duties, and enforcing import security laws, it is not one of the agencies that directly regulate the import of vehicles and other goods into the United States.

To begin the importation process, whether you’ll do it yourself or through a customs broker, you need to be aware of the following two agencies that regulate the import of vehicles into the United States:

The Department of Transportation (DOT)

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is the agency that sets safety regulations for all major modes of transportation in the U.S. It also oversees vehicle safety standards for imported vehicles and can deny entry to any vehicle that does not meet those standards. Part of DOT, it is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that is responsible for administering all aspects of transportation safety.

Vehicle importers must submit a DOT HS-7 Form before shipping a car from abroad to the United States. This form certifies that a vehicle meets all federal safety standards and ensures it will be allowed entry into the country without being detained at port and either returned to its point of origin or destroyed by customs.

Also known as a Declaration Form, the HS-7 Form is used by CBP and NHTSA to document information about both the imported vehicle and the importer. It must be submitted to CBP along with an EPA Form 3520-1 to import any motor vehicle into the U.S.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates emissions from all on-road motor vehicles, including automobiles, trucks, vans, and motorcycles. It also sets minimum fuel economy standards for imported vehicles sold in the U.S., which means that if a vehicle is not certified by EPA, it cannot be driven on public roads in the United States.

The EPA also sets fuel economy regulations, which means that a vehicle must meet certain emission standards before it can be imported into the U.S. It requires all vehicles entering the country to have an EPA label indicating their emissions status.

As part of the importation process, an EPA Form 3520-1 must be submitted to CBP for each motor vehicle (including motorcycles, disassembled vehicles, kit cars, and light-duty vehicle/motorcycle engines) imported into the United States. However, this form is not required for motor vehicles that are imported by their original manufacturer and new and covered by an EPA certificate of conformity and bear an EPA emission control label.

Are you importing a vehicle into the United States and want to ensure compliance with DOT and EPA regulations? Book a meeting with one of our Trade Experts for more insight, help filling and submitting the required forms, and ultimately a smooth vehicle importation process.


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