buying a used car vs. importing one ... what taxes, fees should I expect?
June 11, 2007 11:45 AM   Subscribe

buying a used car vs. importing one ... what taxes, fees should I expect?

I recently spoke to relatives in germany and found out the used car I fancy here, an audi convertible, could be had for 5k less over there. this made me think about importing it. a dealer confirmed changing the car from km/h to mph isn't a big deal but how much should I expect for passage, taxes and fees? how badly will customs hit me upon arrival? how does this compare in taxes, fees to purchasing a used vehicle for around $25k here in chicago, il? (aka. how much does the dmv make me write a check for in this state?)

20k for car in germany + import taxes, fees + passage = $ X
25k for car in illinois + taxes, fees = $ Y

I am trying to figure out which value would be lower.
posted by krautland to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Unless the car is over 21 years old, was built to US spec, or fits into a few very narrowly-defined categories, the EPA requirements for importation would be either very expensive or impossible to meet.
posted by backupjesus at 12:46 PM on June 11, 2007

Between import duty, transportation, and conversion, I don't think the German car will be much of a bargain. Aside from the metric conversion, it may need emissions work or other mods to make it street legal in the US.
posted by dr_dank at 1:12 PM on June 11, 2007

Response by poster: are you positive this is still an issue with this car being an audi (german standards are quite stringent as well, though I have heard they don't compare to those in california)? I mean .. the only difference between the models I can see is that I am interested in a stick vs. the only option here being an automatic.
posted by krautland at 1:24 PM on June 11, 2007

Best answer: A car that was not made for the US market can be imported, sometimes, but it's not cheap.

It will need to be brought up to the US's FMVSS standards and EPA Emissions standards, as of the date of the car's manufacture. (So, if it's a 1998, it'll need to be compliant with the same rules that US cars did for model-year 1998).

Sometimes, a european car will already be made to these standards (it's rare, but it happens -- usually it's associated with a "pick your car up at the factory" program that Volvo once made famous.) These cars have a FMVSS plaque and a US EPA Emissions sticker inside the driver's door. If your desired car has these, it might not be outrageously expensive to import it.

Assuming your car doesn't have a FMVSS sticker, you then need to check this list of cars(cache) that can be brought to compliance. If it's not on that list, it can't be titled in the US until it's 25 years old.

If your car is on that list, then you will need the services of a Registered Importer. Contact one or more of them with details of the car (make/model/year), and they'll be able to tell you how much it will cost. Make sure you are sitting down.

German automotive standards are quite stringent, but they're different from the US's. Bringing a car into compliance frequently involves changing not just the odometer, but the lights, glass, emissions systems, and sometimes airbags. The european windshield glass may be as safe or safer as what we use here, but unless it's been certified buy the US DoT for use on a US car, it can't be on our roads.

Many of these laws were written when there was more of a connection between Detroit and Washington. It's no accident that the laws keep plenty of very good, safe cars off of US roads, just because they weren't sold new here.
posted by toxic at 2:04 PM on June 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

« Older What good monitoring tools for JBoss are there?   |   pre- and post-Father's-Day camera prices Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.