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United States – Buying or Importing a Car

If you’re a foreign national planning to buy or import a vehicle in the United States (US), it’s essential to understand the legal procedures involved. In this article, we’ll cover the steps involved in buying or importing a car in the US, along with the necessary paperwork and contact details of relevant government departments.

Buying a New or Used Car in the US

Buying a new or used car in the US is a straightforward process. The first step is to find a reputable dealership or private seller. You can browse local classifieds websites, visit authorized car dealerships, or use online marketplaces like Autotrader.

Required Documents for Buying a Car in the US

Foreign nationals need to provide the following documents to buy a car in the US:

  • Passport or national ID card
  • Valid driver’s license from their home country or international driver’s permit
  • Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Proof of address (e.g., utility bill, bank statement)

Registering the Vehicle

Once you’ve purchased the car, you need to register it with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the state where you plan to reside. The registration process involves providing the following documents:


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  • Certificate of Title or Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin
  • Bill of Sale
  • Proof of car insurance
  • Valid driver’s license from their home country or international driver’s permit
  • Social Security number or ITIN
  • Proof of address (e.g., utility bill, bank statement)

After submitting the necessary documents, the DMV will issue you with US registration plates and a vehicle registration certificate.

Importing a Vehicle in the US

If you’re planning to import a vehicle to the US, there are specific procedures and requirements to follow.

Required Documents for Importing a Vehicle

Foreign nationals need to provide the following documents to import a car to the US:

  • Original vehicle registration documents from the country of origin
  • Bill of Sale
  • Proof of car insurance
  • Valid driver’s license from their home country or international driver’s permit
  • Social Security number or ITIN
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance certificates
  • Customs Declaration Form

Step-by-Step Guide to Importing a Vehicle

  1. Obtain an EPA and DOT compliance certificate from the manufacturer.

  2. Complete a Customs Declaration Form with US Customs and Border Protection.

  3. Pay any applicable taxes and customs fees at the US Customs and Border Protection office.

  4. Obtain car insurance from a US provider.

  5. Register the Vehicle with the DMV in the state where you plan to reside. Provide all the necessary documents, including the Original vehicle registration documents from the country of origin, Bill of Sale, Proof of car insurance, Valid driver’s license from their home country or international driver’s permit, Social Security number or ITIN, EPA and DOT compliance certificates, Customs Declaration Form, and proof of payment of taxes and customs fees.

  6. The DMV will issue US registration plates and a Vehicle Registration Certificate.

Contact Details of Relevant Government Departments

If you need assistance with the import process, you can contact the following US government departments:

Selling a Car in the US

If you’re planning to sell a car in the US, there are specific procedures and paperwork to follow.

Required Documents for Selling a Car in the US

When selling a car in the US, you need to provide the following documents: Certificate of Title: The Certificate of Title proves that you are the owner of the car.

Bill of Sale: The Bill of Sale is a document that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale.

Odometer Disclosure Statement: This statement discloses the mileage of the vehicle.

Release of Liability: The Release of Liability transfers responsibility for the vehicle from the seller to the buyer.

Step-by-Step Guide to Selling a Car

  1. Obtain the Certificate of Title.

  2. Create a Bill of Sale that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale.

  3. Complete an Odometer Disclosure Statement with the buyer.

  4. Complete a Release of Liability with the buyer.

  5. Provide the buyer with the necessary documents, including the Certificate of Title, Bill of Sale, Odometer Disclosure Statement, and Release of Liability.

  6. Cancel your car insurance policy and notify the DMV of the sale.

Contact Details of Relevant Government Departments

If you need assistance with the selling process, you can contact the following US government departments:

Buying or importing a vehicle in the US involves following specific procedures and providing the necessary paperwork. As a foreign national, it’s essential to have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and proof of address. Contacting the relevant government departments can help with any queries or issues during the process. Selling a car in the US also involves specific paperwork, and completing the necessary steps can ensure a smooth transaction.


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