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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Importing A Race Car Into the USA Permanently : NHTSA and EPA Requirements

BNR34-000092: Permanent Race Car Exemption

The first thing to get straight with this "race car" is that just because you are going to "race" it does not it a race car make.  In order to import the race vehicle permanently you are going to have to meet NHTSA/DOT requirements and EPA requirements. This isn't impossible, nor is it the only way to import a car. However if you want to do it right, want to have something here in the US legally permanently, this is the process. It is very difficult to import a normal production car under the permanent race car exemption. You can import cars under a temporary importation, but you have to export them within a year.


Race car exemption

The following sets forth the requirements for a vehicle to be imported as a racing vehicle. A vehicle that was originally manufactured as a racing vehicle can be declared as an off-road vehicle under Box 8 on the HS-7 Declaration form that is to be furnished to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (Customs) at time of importation. Such a vehicle can be permanently imported into the United States. A motor vehicle that was not originally manufactured as a racing vehicle can only be imported on a temporary basis under Box 7 on the HS-7 Declaration form. The importer must obtain a letter of permission from NHTSA to import a vehicle on that basis. To obtain such a letter, the vehicle must be in full racing configuration at the time of importation and lack features associated with safe and practical public road use. Determinations are based on the capability of the vehicle to be used on public roads, not its intended use.


To import a racing vehicle into the United States on a permanent basis, you must:
Obtain from the vehicle’s original manufacturer a letter stating that the vehicle was originally manufactured as a racing vehicle.
File with Customs, upon entry, an HS-7 Declaration form on which Box 8 is checked, indicating that the vehicle was not manufactured primarily for use on the public roads, and is therefore not a motor vehicle subject to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety, Bumper, and Theft Protection Standards.
Attach a copy of the manufacturer’s letter to the HS-7 Declaration form that you furnish to Customs.
To import a motor vehicle into the United States on a temporary basis for racing purposes, you must:
Apply to NHTSA for a letter granting you permission to import the vehicle on a temporary basis. For that purpose, you should use the application form posted on this website.
File with Customs, upon entry, an HS-7 Declaration form on which Box 7 is checked, indicating that the motor vehicle does not comply with all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety, Bumper, and Theft Prevention Standards, but is being imported solely for the purpose of competitive racing events.
Attach a copy of the NHTSA permission letter to the HS-7 Declaration form that you furnish to Customs.
To obtain such a permission letter from NHTSA, you must submit to the agency the following information in the order stated:
  1. Importer’s name, address, and daytime phone number.
  2. Customs broker’s name, contact, and phone number.
  3. Vehicle information (make, model, model year, and VIN or identifying number).
  4. A list of the racing features of the vehicle.
  5. A list of the features lacking that are needed for use of the vehicle on public roads.
  6. Photographs showing the following views: front, rear, side, and interior. Racing features and/or features lacking for on-road use on public roads should be shown in the photographs.
  7. The name of the sanctioning body and competition class.
  8. Previous race history of the vehicle (if any).
  9. Schedule of racing events, including dates and locations where vehicle will compete (if any).
  10. Copy of the competition-racing license of the importer (if any).
Permission to import a motor vehicle temporarily is granted in annual increments for up to three years if duty is not paid, or for up to five years if duty is paid. No later than 30 days after the expiration of the period for which permission is granted, the vehicle must be either exported from the United States or destroyed.


A racing vehicle may not be registered or licensed for on-road use. A vehicle allowed entry for racing purposes cannot subsequently be converted for use on public roads.

DOT Approval letter on a permanent race car importation
Super GT Nissan Skyline GT-R: Temporary Race Car Import


So once you get all the NHTSA/DOT requirements finished and get their approval letter, and the approval letter from the EPA, you can take both those letters, fill out the HS-7, and the 3520-1, and clear customs with those documents. Its not a short or easy process, but its also not impossible.


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