How To: Import a Car into the United States

Import car into United statesI’ve always wondered how this works. I’ve heard that $1,500 is about what it costs to ship a car overseas but I’ve never really known the process or the details. Doug DeMuro is in the process of importing a Skyline from Japan and he’s laid out the entire process for us to learn from.



As many of you know, I’m currently importing a Nissan Skyline GT-R the United States. This is a long and intricate process that involves a wide range of port workers, sailors, government agencies, customs employees, and enough forms to bury them all in a large pile of official documents.5

But the process is almost complete. You’d know this if you followed me on Twitter, because my Skyline is less than three weeks away from landing in America — and that means I have a lot of ground to cover on the import process before I start doing highly informative videos about the difficulty of bringing a right-hand drive vehicle to the drive-thru.6789

So today I’m going to address a topic that many of you have been wondering about: precisely how do you go about shipping a car to the United States? I know you’ve been wondering about this because I’ve received dozens of e-mails from a slew of different readers asking a multitude of shipping-related questions, ranging from “Does it cost thousands of dollars?” to “Do you have to put it in a box?”1011

Even friends of mine who couldn’t care less about cars – friends who think it was tasteless for Porsche to name a car “911” in the wake of the September 11 attacks – have been asking me about it. “How do you ship… a CAR?” they say, with a genuine sense of awe in their voices, because they remember how expensive it was to ship home their college coffeemaker during summer vacations. “Can you use FedEx?” 1213

So now I’ll be answering all of your automotive shipping questions, from start to finish, in one little Jalopnik column. As usual, much thanks to those who helped me compile all this information: automotive importer extraordinaire Japanese Classics, who is currently bringing over my Skyline, and the three readers who helped me by answering questions about vehicles they’ve imported.

The rest of the article published on Jalopnik is pretty good. I apologize for the jump to Jalopnik but the comments are pretty good and Doug is responding to questions so its best to finish the article over there. I just wanted here for you guys to see because its an excellent resource. It covers Cost, Process, Paperwork, Little Things, and the Ins and Out of Shipping. Enjoy.

Bill Caswell is a self-taught racing driver, mechanic, and fabricator, and rose to internet fame taking a $500 Craigslist BMW to a World Rally Championship event in Mexico in March of 2010. His exploits have featured in places like ESPN Magazine, Grassroots Motorsports, NPR Radio, and A lifelong fan of rally and motorsport, Caswell famously believes nothing to be impossible.