As a general rule, all motor vehicles imported into the United States that are less than 25 years old must comply with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS), or be brought into compliance with those standards by a Registered Importer. Vehicles temporarily imported in the following circumstances are exempt from this requirement and do not have to be modified to conform to the FMVSS. A DOT HS-7 Declaration form (available at ports of entry or at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import) must be completed for each vehicle imported.
NONRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
A vehicle registered in a country other than the United States may be imported for personal use by a non-resident of the United States for a period not to exceed one year. The vehicle cannot be sold while in the United States and must be exported within one year from the date of entry. This period cannot be extended under any circumstances. The importer’s passport number and the name of the country that issued the passport must be supplied on the HS-7 Declaration form. Use Box 5 on the HS-7 Declaration form.
DIPLOMAT OR MEMBER OF AN ORGANIZATION DESIGNATED UNDER THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS IMMUNITIES ACT
A vehicle may be imported for personal use during the importer’s tour of duty. The vehicle must be registered with the Office of Foreign Missions of the State Department and a copy of the importer’s official orders must be attached to the HS-7 Declaration form. The vehicle must be exported at the end of the tour of duty unless it is sold to another person who is eligible to import a vehicle under this exception. Use Box 6 on the HS-7 Declaration form.
MEMBER OF THE ARMED FORCES OF A FOREIGN COUNTRY
A vehicle may be imported for personal use during the importer’s tour of duty. The vehicle cannot be sold while in the United States and must be exported at the end of the importer’s tour of duty. A copy of the importer’s official orders must be attached to the HS-7 Declaration form. Use Box 12 on the HS-7 Declaration form.
RESEARCH, INVESTIGATION, DEMONSTRATION, TRAINING, OR RACING
A vehicle may be imported for research, investigation, demonstrations or training, or competitive racing events. Unless the importer is a manufacturer that certifies vehicles as complying with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards, the importer must obtain prior approval from NHTSA. An application form to obtain this approval can be downloaded at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/racing/box7form.pdf. When completed, the application form, with substantiating information, should be faxed to 202-366-1024. If you have questions or need further details, please call 202-366-5291 or 202-366-5323.
The importer must attach a copy of the NHTSA permission letter and the importer's substantiating statement to the HS-7 Declaration form. Use Box 7 on HS-7 Declaration form.
INTENDED FOR EXPORT
Vehicles or regulated equipment intended solely for export must be labeled or tagged “FOR EXPORT” on the vehicle or equipment item, and the outside of any container in which the vehicle or equipment item is shipped. This type of entry may be used to temporarily import a vehicle for repair. Use Box 4 on the HS-7 Declaration form.