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Thread: Any "real" import/customs experts on this board?

  1. #1
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    Default Any "real" import/customs experts on this board?

    I was driving a 110 Defender when I still lived in Switzerland. Just before moving to Virginia, when still had residency in Switzerland, I brought my Defender over to the US as a tourist vehicle, which was legal, not really the way this law was intended, but 100% legal. This allowed me to drive my Defender here in the states for 12 months. After the 12 months were up, I sent her back. My dad still is driving the old girl.

    Now this is where it starts getting interesting: The Swiss insurance would cover the vehicle in the entire world except the USA. The US insurance would just cover the vehicle if it had VA license plates. I was told that I should go to the DMV, get plates and then head back to get insurance. As this is exactly the way it is handled in many countries including Switzerland (in Switzerland, they give you a special Swiss license plates with a sticker showing until when the vehicle is entitled to stay in the country), I went to DMV with the Swiss vehicle title, paid sales tax and walked out 15 minutes later with a VA title and VA plates!!! It is not until much later, when the Defender was already back in Switzerland, that I learnd that my Defender would have never been entitled to a VA title and plates. (Sometimes, ignorance of yourself and DMV clerks is a bliss )

    Fact is, that I have a valid VA title for that vehicle. All numbers match (just that according to the title she has a gas engine while she is a diesel). I wonder if I could get her legally back to the US with that title...
    Last edited by The Swiss; 07-12-2007 at 05:00 PM.
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  2. #2
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    That means going back through the DOT/EPA screen in the port. Good luck with that. I would hate to see her impounded and crushed. I think you missed your safe window under the gross error of the VA dmv clerk.

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    Getting it smogged would confuse the heck out of the people there.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by overlander
    That means going back through the DOT/EPA screen in the port. Good luck with that. I would hate to see her impounded and crushed. I think you missed your safe window under the gross error of the VA dmv clerk.
    - I learned about that I should not have gotten a title after I sent her back. Also, I am not sure how the vehicle was registered in the customs data based, if the 12 mts were recorded there and had to be cleared; it would not have been legal to just keep her here.
    - Now about the screening: If the vehicle has a US title, therefore has "legally been approved to the US", would it get screaned again? Smogging afterwards in rural NW Georgia would not be a problem, heck we don't even have a state inspections, less smogging ...
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  5. #5
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    There are some very very good importation threads on ih8mud.com. Categorized here: http://forum.ih8mud.com/showthread.php?t=76210

    And by far, the best most comprehensive read: "Everything I learned about Importing" from a real expert:
    http://forum.ih8mud.com/showthread.php?t=10164

  6. #6
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    D-90.com has the most comprehensive discussions regarding importing a landie that you will ever find on the 'net. Good luck.
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  7. #7
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    I doubt you will find someone on these forums that have precise experience with your situation - it is very unique...

    I understand how tempting it is to bring it back. You would *probably* be fine if the truck had US plates and title. But it remains risky...

    What you could also try is to ship it to Halifax in Canada. The customs won't have a problem with your title. Then just drive it across the border, if you have valid tags on your license plate you should be okay. if you have a problem just turn around and sell it Canada, I'll buy it from you...

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  8. #8
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    Getting a State title and registration is a completely separate issue from dealing with the Federal Government when it comes to importing vehicles.

    When you imported the Landrover the first time you filled out a customs declaration stating the vehicle was for temporary importation for a period of 12 months or less.

    Next time you import it you have a choice of doing the same again for temporary importation, or declaring it as a non conforming vehicle and having a Registered Importer bring it up to NHTSA and DOT standards, or declaring it as a vehicle that conforms with all US NHTSA and DOT regulations.

    If you import it as a temporary import and overstay the 12 months the Federal Government will demand that you either export the vehicle, or destroy the vehicle.

    If you can find a Registered Importer to do the conversion work for you it will cost you an arm and a leg, plus you will have to convert the vehicle to a gasoline engine as Landrover has no US compliant diesel engines.

    If you say it is already compliant the Customs will do a VIN search and determine that your Land Rover is non compliant.

    I'm not suggesting this but a friend of mine once told me of someone who shipped his vehicle to Canada. It had Virginia license plates and title. He then drove the vehicle over the border into the USA and to his home and no one was the wiser.

  9. #9
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    I am not an import/export expert, but I have consulted an import/export lawyer on this and have significant experience with bringing Defenders into the country.

    If you have a valid title that matches the car DOT and EPA will have no interest in examining the vehicle. You could get unlucky and have someone do a snap inspection. When I brought my Defender back from Africa, not only did DOT/EPA NOT inspect it, no one did. I cleared customs, got the final carnet stamp (had to tell them what to do with that) and the container was released for transport to my house. I broke the shipping seal and the only person there to watch was the truck driver. I had a valid colorado title at that point and that is what I showed customs.

    Please do not take all the advise you get on the internet as worth anything. Talk to a lawyer or to someone who has and has done what you are doing. There is so much miss-information out there it could fill thousands of threads - - - OOPS, it already does. . .

    PM me if you want more info.

    cheers
    Last edited by gjackson; 07-12-2007 at 08:55 PM.

  10. #10
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    Graham, I抦 sure you must have filled out form hs799short when you returned to the USA.

    It's on this form that you must declare if the vehicle is more than 25 years old, if it conforms to DOT, EPA, and NHTSA standards etc. Having a valid Colorado title and a VIN number that showed compliance was your ticket in. No inspection was necessary. If things hadn抰 checked out I bet they would have searched your container.

    Vehicles that drive over the border into the USA have slightly different regulations as posted by the Customs and Border Patrol

    "A vehicle transported/driven from the United States for non-commercial or private use outside the country may return duty free to the United States, if U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is provided specific proof of U.S. origination. This proof may be a State issued vehicle registration card or a CBP certificate of registration (CBP 4455) completed and verified by a CBP officer before departure from the United States. It assumes the vehicle originated in the USA in the first place.

    Lots more information at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/

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