Overseas buyers of used cars at car auctions in the United States with plans to export the vehicle should consider the regulations involved. Understanding the barriers to engaging in this type of investment can provide buyers with a better understanding of the risks involved with exporting cars from the United States.
You Must Understand Exporting Before Importing
Foreign buyers are not restricted in their ability to purchase cars in the United States. The regulations that present problems to foreign buyers are the ones that pertain to shipping a vehicle out of the country.
Overseas buyers who come to the United States to purchase a car at a used vehicle auction often make the mistake of focusing on importing the car at its destination while ignoring the requirements for getting the car out of the United States. It is not simply a matter of making a purchase at an auction, driving the car to the port and sending it aboard a container ship.
The rules that govern export from the United States can be a trap for those who do not take the time to understand them. Of course, the rules concerning importing a vehicle in a foreign country are also important. However, the question of whether a vehicle can be imported to a destination market becomes irrelevant if the buyer is unable to meet the legal requirements to export a vehicle from the United States. Therefore, understanding the requirements to get the vehicle out of the United States and on its way to a foreign destination is crucial.
United States Customs and Border Protection Regulations
In the United States, all exporters or their agents must comply with United States Customs and Border Protections regulations concerning the export of motorized vehicles. The regulations lay out the requirements for documentation and the procedures for clearing customs. These regulations are found at in the Code of Federal Regulations at 19 CFR 192 et seq.
Section 192.2 provides a good starting point and outlines the basic requirements for exporting a motorized vehicle:
“A person attempting to export a used self-propelled vehicle shall present to Customs, at the port of exportation, both the vehicle and the required documentation describing the vehicle to include the VIN or, if the vehicle does not have a VIN, the product identification number (PIN). Exportation of a vehicle will be permitted only upon compliance with these requirements.”
The same section also establishes the title and documentation requirements for a vehicle being exported:
“For used vehicles, CBP requires the owner to provide a Certificate of Title or a Salvage Title that remains in force. The owner must also provide to Customs the original Certificate of Title or a Certified Copy of the Certificate of Title and two complete copies of the original Certificate of Title or the Certified Copy of the original.”
Where a vehicle may have a lien or other third party ownership issues the following must be considered. The regulations state:
“Where title shows third-party ownership/claims such as a recorded lien exists in the U.S., the provisional owner must provide to Customs a separate writing from the third-party in interest which expressly provides that the subject vehicle may be exported. This writing must be on the third-party’s letterhead paper and contain a complete description of the vehicle including the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the name of the owner or lienholder of the leased vehicle, and the telephone numbers at which that owner or lienholder may be contacted and must bear an original signature of the third-party and state the date it was signed.”
Moving beyond the basic requirements, non-U.S. residents or foreign companies must also follow the relevant regulations concerning documenting and presenting cargo for shipment with United States Customs and Border Protections. Foreign persons visiting the U.S. cannot register to file through AESDirect the free, Internet-based system for filing Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) information. This means they need to follow these three steps:
- Select and authorize a U.S. agent (i.e. Freight Forwarder, Broker, etc.) to file export information to the Automated Export System (AES) on your behalf. To find a U.S. agent or freight forwarder, simply use an Internet search engine to locate one or visit the export.gov website.
- Provide the U.S. agent with your foreign passport number, along with other required data elements
- Obtain the Internal Transaction Number (ITN) from the authorized agent.
Understanding the basics of exporting a vehicle and any potential problems that may arise in the process can eliminate a great deal of risk. One of the best resources for understanding this process is to visit the United States Customs and Border Protections Agency website which provides a useful guide to shipping vehicles abroad.