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Importing Vehicles and Engines into the U.S.

Basic Information

The Clean Air Act prohibits importation into the U.S. of any motor vehicle, motor vehicle engine, nonroad engine and equipment that does not conform to EPA emission standards and requirements. U.S. EPA emission standards have been in effect for light-duty motor vehicles since 1968, motorcycles since 1978, heavy-duty on-highway engines since 1970, nonroad engines since 1996, and recreational vehicles (dirt bikes, ATVs, ORUVs, and snowmobiles) since 2006. These standards apply to all vehicles and engines including imported motor vehicles, heavy-duty engines, nonroad engines, and recreational vehicles, whether they are new or used, manufactured domestically or abroad.

NOTE: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, available as a free download, to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more about PDF, and for a link to the free Acrobat Reader.

Nonconforming vehicles and engines must be imported, modified, tested and certified by an Independent Commercial Importer (ICI). EPA regulations also allow nonconforming vehicles and engines to be temporally imported under U.S. Customs bond, if they qualify for an EPA temporary exemption (testing, display, repair or alteration, or nonresident exemption). It is important for importers to be aware that they must either make final arrangements with an ICI for modifications, testing, and certification or obtain prior EPA approval for an exemption BEFORE shipping a nonconforming vehicle or engine to the U.S.. If the goods arrive at a U.S. port of entry without the appropriate ICI arrangements or a valid EPA exemption, it can lead to seizure and/or export of the goods, as well as other fines and penalties.

In addition to EPA requirements, importers must also consider the safety requirements administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as the trade and security requirements of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Prospective Importers Beware!
Read this information about nonconforming (non U.S. version) vehicles and U.S. version vehicles driving overseas.

This page is maintained by EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ).
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