Located along the eastern edge of the Black Sea, Georgia is home to a vibrant though somewhat turbulent used car market. Without any domestic automotive production to speak of, this country relies entirely upon imports to furnish its new and used car markets. As a result, those looking to export used vehicles from the United States have often looked to Georgia as a potential landing spot.
To be sure, there are a number of benefits to importing used U.S. vehicles into Georgia. Most notably, this country has some of the lowest import tariffs and taxes in the world. However, the used car market there is not without its risks and potential issues. Below, we’re going to cover these topics, while also explaining everything you need to know when exporting U.S. secondhand cars to Georgia.
Purchasing Used Vehicles at U.S. Online Car Auctions
Without a doubt, the best way to purchase a used U.S. vehicle to import into Georgia is to take advantage of online car auctions. Through sites that provide this service, you can gain access to auctions that would previously have only been available to individuals and businesses with dealer’s licenses.
Needless to say, having access to these auctions provides you with the opportunity to browse an extensive inventory. Better yet, you stand to save up to 70 or even 80 percent on the value of the vehicles being auctioned. This is a win-win when you’re trying to import U.S. used cars into Georgia.
To get started with an online car auction site, you merely need to make a deposit and setup an account. The deposit is necessary in order to establish your maximum bid, with the deposit typically representing 10% of that maximum bid. (For example, if you deposited $100, then you would be able to bid up to $1,000).
With an account setup and a deposit made, you’ll be able to browse the online car auction site’s database. In addition, you can get in touch with the auction agent who will be assigned to you. He or she can assist you with everything from bidding strategy to locating auctions that cannot be displayed publically through the site’s database.
Shipping a Used or Salvage U.S. Car to Georgia
As a major economic hub on the Black Sea, it should be relatively simple to find a United States port that offers shipping access to Georgia. However, availability may be a bit more limited than it is for other Eastern European countries, so be sure to research your port options before purchasing a used car in an online car auction!
When you do locate a port that’s going to be convenient for your needs, though, you will have some options. You can, of course, opt for traditional container shipping, which will be ideal if you’re shipping an expensive luxury or classic automobile to Georgia. However, if you’re looking to cut your shipping costs a bit, there is an attractive option.
This second option is known as RORO shipping, which is short for “roll-on roll-off”. With this shipping method, your car will simply be rolled onto the ship at the departure port and then rolled off at the arrival port, rather than being packed away in a container.
This offers two benefits. For one, it’s much more convenient! When your car arrives in Georgia, you’ll be able to drive it off rather than waiting for it to be unpacked from a container. More importantly, though, it’s much cheaper, given that there’s far less labor involved. Of course, there is a drawback. Because your car will not be protected by a container, it will be exposed to the elements. Also, it’s possible that your car may need to be moved during shipping. This, of course, opens up the possibility of in-transit damage occurring.
If you’re willing to accept the risk, RORO shipping can be a great option. However, if the safe travel of your used vehicle (or vehicles) is your number-one priority, it may be best to stick to traditional container shipping.
When shipping to Georgia, you’ll have a couple of different ports to choose from. All of them offer service for both container vessels and those offering RORO shipping. These include:
The Port of Poti is considered the primary container port for the country, although the Port of Batumi can also be used when shipping used vehicles from the USA to Georgia. The Port of Poti’s dominance, though, is due to its position at the mouth of the Rioni River, which facilitates shipping further inland into the country.
All of Georgia’s ports are overseen by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. You can visit their website here for more information about ports and clearance procedures.
Clearing Your Used Vehicle Shipped to Georgia Through U.S. Customs
Getting a used vehicle through U.S. customs is an incredibly straightforward process. Once you’ve identified your departure port, you will merely need to present your vehicle along with a few documents to U.S. customs at that port at least 72 hours in advance of your ship date. (Consult the Port Director to find out where you will need to present the vehicle and documentation.)
U.S. customs will require an Original Certificate of Title for the vehicle, as well as one of two options. You can either present a certified copy of the title along with the original, or you can submit to complete (but official) copies. It’s up to you!
With the documents and the vehicle in hand, U.S. customs will conduct their inspection. They’ll ensure that there’s nothing illegally stowed away in the vehicle, and they’ll verify that the documents submitted pertain to the vehicle by cross-referencing the Vehicle Identification Number and the engine number. Provided everything checks out, your vehicle will be cleared for shipping!
If you have any additional questions about clearing your used vehicle through U.S. customs, simply consult this website.
Getting Your Used or Salvage Car Through Georgian Customs
Compared to other neighboring countries, the process for importing vehicles into Georgia is very straightforward. When importing a used vehicle from the United States into Georgia, you will need a number of different documents:
- A Copy of Your Passport (If Applicable)
- A Copy of Your Via (If Applicable)
- Proof of Shipping Costs
- Commercial or Purchase Invoice
- A Certificate of Origin
- The Vehicle’s Original Certificate of Title
- The Original Bill of Landing
- Full Information About the Vehicle (See Below)
For the purpose of clearing customs, vital information about your vehicle will need to be presented. This should include:
- Vehicle Make
- Vehicle Model
- Engine Volume (in CC)
- Engine Number
- Vehicle Color
- Chassis Number (VIN)
- Year of Manufacture
IMPORTANT: You are required to notify Georgia of any and all cargo being shipped to the country prior to its arrival. This notification (which is for security purposes) must be offered at least 24 hours in advance of the cargo’s arrival. To submit a notification for your used vehicle imported into Georgia from the United States, please visit this website.
The country of Georgia’s Revenue Service oversees the entire customs declaration process. To answer any questions you might have about said process, please visit their official government website here.
There is an online portal for all things customs-related provided by the Georgian government. However, the website is provided in Georgian. Should you speak and read the language, it can be accessed here.
Import Duties and Taxes for U.S. Vehicles Imported into Georgia
As already mentioned, one of the things that makes Georgia a particularly attractive place to import used vehicles from the United States are the low import duties and taxes. For the most part, in fact, you may not be subject to any import duties at all when importing a used vehicle from the United States into Georgia.
As per Georgia’s Ministry of Finance, the current tariff rate for “all vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock, and parts and accessories thereof” is 0%. That said, some sources note that import duties may be assessed based upon the engine size and age of the used automobile. However, a comprehensive database for scheduling of these rates cannot be located. For more information, you can consult the United States Georgian Embassy here.
The only thing that you will be required to pay as a Value Added Tax (VAT). This VAT is calculated based upon the vehicle’s CIF (Cost, Insurance, Freight). Currently, the VAT in Georgia is set to 18%.
When importing your used vehicle from the United States into Georgia, you will be required to present a certified bank note for the full VAT amount. However, there are exceptions to having to pay this tax. For vehicles that will only be in the country for a period of one year or less, no tax payment is required.
Should you opt for this exemption and need to extend for an additional year, then you can apply to do so. Note, though, that only one extension will be granted, if it is granted at all. If the VAT is not paid in full by the end of the second extension, then the vehicle must be exported from Georgia immediately.
The Used Car Market in Georgia
Without a domestic automotive industry to speak of, both the new and used car markets in Georgia rely upon imports. While there is a sizable demand for imported used vehicles in Georgia itself, a large portion of the imported used car market in the country serves to export imported used cars to neighboring countries.
As you might expect, the secondhand export market is due to the incredibly low (or in some cases non-existent) import duties and tariffs Georgia offers. These make it an attractive shipping destination for those looking to break into Eastern European markets, as one can avoid the higher import duties and taxes elsewhere. Still, the high reliance on secondhand exports leads to a degree of volatility in the market, which we will discuss below.
Given the volatility, there is a strong tendency toward luxury and classic automobiles in the Georgian used car import market. BMW leads the way in terms of the luxury category, which should be welcome news to people importing used cars from the United States.
Outside of the luxury category, though, the used car market trends much the same way that it does elsewhere in Europe. There’s a strong preference for Japanese makes and models, particularly those that offer fuel efficiency at a low cost. For this reason, Toyota and Nissan are popular brands in Georgia.
Potential Problems in the Georgian Used Car Market
To put it bluntly, the political and economic environment in Georgia and other Eastern European countries has been quite volatile of late. This has largely to do with turmoil in the Middle East, as well as growing tensions between the United States / European Union and the Russian Federation. Other symptoms of this turmoil and tension notwithstanding, they have resulted in a high degree of volatility within the imported used car market in Georgia.
For example, Kazakhstan had been a primary secondary importer of used cars from Georgia until 2011. Due to Kazakhstan’s evolving and deepening relationship with the Russian Federation, though, the secondary importation of used vehicles from Georgia ceased. For 2012, this had a devastating effect upon the import market for used vehicles within Georgia itself.
Georgia’s secondhand export market, though, did manage to recover over the next several years thanks to development of relationships with Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, those countries have been greatly increasing their restrictions on imported used vehicles, particularly as they relate to environmental considerations, and this is beginning to have a negative effect on the used car market in Georgia overall.
The Most Popular Used Vehicles in Georgia
For many years, the most popular car type in Georgia has been the sedan. However, in recent year there’s been growing interest in SUVs, with American makes and models seeing some inroads (though small) into the market.
Overall, though two most popular makes in Georgia are Opel and Mercedes-Benz. In particular, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the C-Class are among the top luxury automobiles sought after on the secondhand car market in Georgia. As already mentioned, BMW remains popular with Georgian auto buyers looking to make a used luxury car purchase, too.
While luxury automobiles present the best opportunity for turning a profit when importing used vehicles from the United States into Georgia, there are other options. Fuel-efficient and safe automobiles are also popular in the country. If you’re looking to take this angle, Toyota and Subaru are strong makes the work with. In particular, you may wish to look into the Rav-4, which splits the difference between the Georgian auto market’s interest in fuel-efficient vehicles and its interest in SUVs.