How to import a scooter

Written by tom lutzenberger
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How to import a scooter
Modern Vespa scooters can be imported without many problems, but vintage scooters tend to be restricted. (scooter 2 image by chrisharvey from

Importing a scooter involves a full-time job of documentation, approvals, and chasing down various related permits. In some respects, if a person has never experienced the process before, it can be very confusing with all the bureaucratic ends that need to be tied up correctly. However, the obstacles cannot be ignored - many of the government and custom agencies involved can seize a scooter if its paperwork does not have all the correct data and authorisations.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Computer
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  • Specific forms
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  1. 1

    Arrange for transportation of the scooter to the shipper in its country of departure. Provide for and plan to place the scooter in a shipping container that will protect it. Coordinate pending communication with your shipper vendor to notify you when the scooter has arrived at the destination port. Anticipate customs screening at the first point of entry to your country; arrange for additional shipping to a customs office near you if it is far away.

  2. 2

    Consider hiring a commercial customs broker to manoeuvre through the steps and paperwork for you and to deal with customs officers.

  3. 3

    Confirm you have all the necessary documentation to identify your scooter. Retain a copy of the bill of lading, the scooter bill of sale to you, any foreign vehicle registration documents, and other documents on the vehicle including insurance. Fill out and have ready the federal Environmental Protection Agency form 3520-1 (emissions clearance) and Department of Transportation form HS-7 (safety clearance). Find documentation showing the scooter meets federal exemptions or exclusions to anticipate questions from customs agents. Arrange for shipping through an independent commercial importer if you know ahead of time your scooter won't meet emissions requirements.

  1. 1

    Give the scooter a good wash with soap and water. Make sure to spray and clean the undercarriage of the scooter thoroughly. Remove any webs, dirt, or debris that may have deposited. Look for any bugs, pests, or foreign soil that may cause agriculture agents to impound the scooter over.

  2. 2

    Strap your scooter down thoroughly inside its shipping container using adjustable motorcycle straps. Add padding around the body to avoid scratches during movement. Remove any and all personal property from the scooter and glovebox.

  3. 3

    Pay any duty taxes owed for the scooter being an import vehicle (either a flat fee or 2.4% of the sale price for motorcycles/scooters) to the shipper in advance or to customs upon arrival. Apply for your £260 customs exemption if you are a U.S. resident. Confirm in writing that the vehicle came with you on your return, it is for personal use, and that you bought it while on your trip.

  4. 4

    File Department of Transportation form DOT HS-7 (declaration that vehicle complies with U.S. safety laws). Confirm in writing that the scooter meets all relevant safety regulations. Point out the manufacturer certificates on the scooter to the customs agents if necessary. Clear customs and transport your scooter home.

Tips and warnings

  • Regulations and federal laws regarding importing vehicles change frequently. Save yourself a frustrating mistake and research the applicable laws to scooters before importing one. Both the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation have a critical influence on import success.
  • Many foreign vehicles do not meet federal rules and standards. Use scepticism when considering statements from foreign sellers that their vehicle has no problem being imported after upfront payment for all fees and taxes. If a scooter is found by customs to be in violation without the ability to modify it, it will be exported or destroyed.

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