Importing a Vehicle through a Registered Importer (RI)

Importing a Vehicle through a Registered Importer (RI)

Breeze Customs Blog


he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have established standards and requirements to ensure imported vehicles are safe for use on American roads. So, if you’re looking to import a nonconforming vehicle that doesn’t comply with these standards and requirements, it must be imported and modified through a Registered Importer (RI). Read on to learn more.

What is a Registered Importer?

A Registered Importer (RI) is an individual or company that specializes in importing vehicles from another country if they don’t meet U.S. safety regulations and emissions standards. An RI is certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to:

  • Modify imported vehicles to meet U.S. safety and emissions standards, and
  • Certify that those modifications meet the required standards.

When do I need to work with a Registered Importer?

Under statutes governing vehicles, a vehicle that was not originally manufactured to comply with all applicable U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and/or was not so certified by its original manufacturer can be lawfully imported into the United States permanently only if:

  1. NHTSA decides that the vehicle is eligible for importation based on the vehicle’s capability of being altered to conform to all applicable FMVSSs, and
  1. The vehicle is imported by a Registered Importer (RI) to modify it so that it complies with all applicable FMVSS following importation.

In short, a nonconforming vehicle can only be imported permanently if NHTSA decides that the vehicle can be altered to comply with all applicable FMVSS. So, if your vehicle was not manufactured to comply with FMVSS, it must be imported through a Registered Importer. In this case, it is labeled as a nonconforming vehicle and must be modified before customs can release it.

How can I find a Registered Importer?

An updated list of DOT-certified Registered Importers can be found here: Registered Importers | NHTSA

How does importing a vehicle through an RI work?

An RI can temporarily import a nonconforming vehicle to prepare an import eligibility petition under a Customs Temporary Importation Bond (TIB). The RI will need written permission from NHTSA, and, to do so, they must submit a request to NHTSA that includes the vehicle by make, model, model year, and VIN.

If the agency grants permission, the RI will have 180 days from the vehicle’s entry date to submit a petition to the agency. If the RI fails to submit a petition within that time, the vehicle must be destroyed, delivered to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for export from the United States, or abandoned to the United States.

If the RI 6 submits a petition that the agency grants, it will have 15 days from the date it is notified of the grant to enter the vehicle under Box 3 on the HS-7 Declaration form and obtain a DOT conformance bond. They must ensure that the vehicle is brought into conformance with all applicable FMVSS within 120 days from the date the petition is granted, or the vehicle will be destroyed, delivered to CBP for export from the United States, or abandoned to the United States.

How Breeze Customs can help you import your vehicle

At Breeze Customs, we’ve helped hundreds of new importers all kinds of products into the United States without hassle. Starting with the process of checking your vehicle’s admissibility and ending with finding a suitable Registered Importer and clearing customs, we’ll take all the work off your shoulders. Book a meeting with one of our Breeze Customs Concierges and we’ll take it from there.