Buying a car abroad is an option many turn to for either convenience or value. For many who may be travelling overseas and plan on driving for an extended period of time, buying a car is one way to not only have the convenience of your own automobile, but can also be a better value than renting a car and then having to return it after long term driving. Others may seek to buy abroad because buying a car in the country where it is built is often cheaper than buying it in the U.S. and is one way to avoid many taxes that buying a car in the U.S. may entail. For either reason, it is important to proceed correctly when buying a car abroad, or you may end up spending much more without gaining the added convenience.
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Determine the type of car you wish to buy.
Find a dealership that sells that car in the country you wish to buy the automobile. Use the Internet to locate a dealership.
Call the dealership and speak to them about buying abroad. You can arrange how you wish to buy the car; whether you would like to buy it before you travel to the country or make an appointment to meet when you go to the country.
Make sure that the car you wish to buy meets all U.S. regulations. These regulations include safety restraint systems, weight restrictions and pollution standards (a full list of regulations and eligibility can be found at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website referenced at the bottom of this guide). Your dealer should be able to tell you whether the car you are interested in meets U.S. regulations. Also make sure the car is allowed to be driven in the country of origin if you wish to do so.
Arrange for shipping of the vehicle to the U.S. If you wish to go to the country you are purchasing it from, it is usually cheaper to drop it off at the port yourself; if not, the dealer can drop it off for you at a charge.
Arrange all the paperwork with the dealer and the shipping company that will be needed when you pick up the car at the port it ships to. This includes making sure your dealer has arranged for your car to have a label that fulfils the requirements of 49 CFR Part 567 (further details on this can be found on the NHTSA Certification website linked at the bottom of this page).
Pick up your car from the port, making sure to have the appropriate paperwork such as the bill of lading, the import certification, and the proof of ownership.
Tips and warnings
- If you wish to go to the country you are buying the car from and drive it there, make sure to make all the arrangement more than six weeks in advance to allow time for the paperwork and financing to be verified.
- It is imperative that you confirm with the dealer that the car meets all U.S. restrictions or regulations. If the car does not, you will not be able to drive it once you ship it to the U.S. you complete many costly modifications.
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