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Importing Used or Salvage Vehicles from the United States into Israel

By Mike Richards Updated: 11/05/2019 Posted: 12/04/2016

Israel and the United States enjoy a close economic and strategic partnership. In addition, there are many in the United States who may want to either immigrate to Israel or at the very least pursue dual citizenship. Whatever the case, some might be wondering how one would go about importing a used vehicle from the United States into Israel.

Below, we’re going to cover everything you need to know. Most importantly, we’ll discuss the various restrictions that Israel has placed upon the import of used vehicles, especially as they concern those who are immigrating to the country. In addition, we’ll also discuss the process for clearing customs, import duties and taxes, and everything else involved in the process. All told, you’ll learn everything you need to know about importing used or salvage vehicles from the United States into Israel.

Israeli Restrictions on the Import of Used Vehicles

Generally speaking, the state of Israel places fairly rigorous restrictions on the import of used vehicles into the country. In fact, unless you are an immigrant to the country, a used vehicle is only permitted to be up to two-years old (based upon model year) in order to be granted importation into the country.

If you’re immigrating to Israel, however, there is no restriction placed upon the age of a vehicle that you’re importing. However, there are still a number of other restrictions of which you’ll need to be aware. First and foremost, you will want to ensure that you have a letter from a licensed Israeli garage stating that this garage will provide service for the used vehicle that you’re importing.

More importantly, though, you’ll want to ensure that your vehicle has been deemed acceptable for import by Israeli authorities. To do this, you will have to consult a list of permissible makes and models that’s furnished by the Israel’s Ministry of Transport. To consult this list, please visit this website. Do note, however, that the list is only offered in Hebrew.

Used vehicles that meet the United States’ Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards are on the whole permissible for import. However, a few modifications may be necessary before shipping your used vehicle to Israel. First, the speedometer for used vehicles imported into the country must be converted to kilometers-per-hour (KPH). Second, a vehicle’s signals will have to be converted to meet European standards.

Should you have any questions about the above restrictions, please consult the website for Israel’s Ministry of Transport, which is here offered in English.

Purchasing Used Vehicles at U.S. Online Car Auctions

It’s long been known that used car auctions are the best way to get an incredible deal on a used or salvage vehicle. However, these auctions have typically only been available to those in possession of a dealer’s license. Not anymore! That’s because online car auctions give individuals and importer-exporters the opportunity to participate in certain dealer-only auctions by listing vehicles from certain dealer-only auction houses on their site so that you get access to this inventory at great prices.

Because of this, one can stand to save an extraordinary amount of money on a used or salvage vehicle. Even better, using online car auctions is simple! You only need create an account and make a deposit to establish your maximum bid. This deposit will typically be 10% of whatever your maximum bid can be, so a small deposit of only $400 will allow you to bid up to $4,000 on a used or salvage vehicle!

Once you’ve setup your account, the real fun begins. Without leaving your home or office, you can bid on an extensive database of used car auctions taking place across the country. In addition, an auction agent or broker will be assigned to you, offering advice on everything from choosing the right car to setting a bidding strategy.

In the end, if you use online car auctions, you’ll discover what many others have. They’re simply the best way to find the exact car you need at a price that cannot be beat.

Shipping a Used or Salvage U.S. Car to Israel

Given the close economic ties between the United States and Israel, finding a port from which you can ship your used or salvage vehicle should be a painless affair. The only real decision that you’ll have to make is your shipping method. You can, of course, opt for container shipping, but there is another, cheaper option of which you should be aware.

This other option is known as RORO shipping, wherein RORO stands for “roll-on roll-off”. This refers to the method by which your used vehicle will be loaded and unloaded by the ship, i.e. it will be rolled onto the ship at the departure port and then rolled off when it arrives in Israel. Given that this involves much less labor than container shipping, the savings are significant. The only drawback is that without the protection of a container, the chance for damage occurring in transit is greater. That said, the risk is miniscule.

There are several ports along the Israeli coastline, with two serving as the country’s major container ports. The first is the Port of Haifa, which is located on to the northern coast, just west of Nazareth. The second is the Port of Ashdod, which is located on the southern coast, just west of Jerusalem.

For more information about the Port of Haifa, you can visit its official website here. For more information about the Port of Ashdod, you can consult its official website here. In addition, you might also consider other smaller ports, like the Port of Tel-Aviv and the Port of Hadera, if you will be shipping via the RORO method.

Clearing Your Used Vehicle Shipped to Israel Through U.S. Customs

When shipping a used vehicle from the United States to Israel, you will first need to clear that vehicle through U.S. customs. You will be happy to learn that this process is incredibly simply, only requiring that you file the proper documentation and submit your vehicle in adequate time before its ship date.

As far as documentation is concerned, you will need to ensure that you have your used vehicle’s Original Certificate of Title. In addition, you will also need to have either a certified copy of that title or two complete copies of the title.

These documents and your vehicle must be submitted to U.S. customs at your chosen port of departure at least 72 hours in advance of your ship date. To find out precisely where this will be at your departure port, simply contact the Port Director.

After U.S. customs has taken possession of your vehicle, they will check to ensure that the documents pertain to the vehicle submitted, and they will inspect the vehicle to ensure nothing has been illegally stowed away. Once your vehicle passes this check and inspection, it will be cleared and then loaded onto the ship.

Should you have any additional questions about this process, simply consult this guide provided by U.S. Customs and Border Security.

Getting Your Used or Salvage Car Through Israeli Customs

Provided that your used U.S. vehicle meets all of the restrictions that were outlined above, the process for clearing your vehicle through Israel customs should be fairly simple. In fact, you will only need to ensure that you’ve gathered all of the appropriate documentation, which must be presented to Israeli customs agents at your port of arrival. The documentation should include:

  • The Original U.S. Certificate of Title
  • A Carfax Report Outlining the Vehicle’s History
  • The Original U.S. Vehicle Registration
  • The Original Bill of Landing
  • Proof of Insurance
  • Shipping and Shipping Insurance Invoices
  • Customs Declaration Form (See Here)
  • Your U.S. Driver’s License
  • Your Israeli Driver’s License
  • Purchase Invoice
  • Proof that Vehicle Meets U.S. Safety Standards

Note that Israeli customs agents, at their sole discretion, can request documentation in addition to the above. Also, do note that they can (and sometimes do) disagree with your declared value for the car and may arrive at their own value.

If you will be taking advantage of the breaks for import taxes afforded to those emigrating into Israel (more on this in the next section), you will also need to furnish the following documentation:

  • Foreign Passport
  • Aliyah Visa
  • Israeli Passport
  • Teudat Oleh or Teudat Zakaut
  • Teudat Zehut

Provided that your documentation checks out and all relevant taxes are paid, your vehicle will be cleared. Note, however, your work isn’t finished with the clearance of your vehicle!

You will also need to submit the vehicle for a standardization check after taking possession of your used car. Via mail, you will receive a notice for this check within about two weeks of your vehicle’s clearance from the Personal Imports Division of Misrad Hatachbura. After this, you will be required to submit the vehicle for this standardization check, a process that can take several months and during which you will NOT have possession of your vehicle.

When presenting your vehicle for this standardization check, you will need to provide the following documentation:

  • Your Driver’s License
  • Your Temporary Vehicle Registration
  • The Invitation Letter for the Standardization Check
  • Receipt for Payment of Check Fee

Misrad Hatachbura offices in either Holon or Haifa perform the standardization check. You can present your vehicle and documentation to either of these offices.

For any further questions about the process of clearing your imported used U.S. vehicle through Israeli customs, please consult the Ministry of Finance here.

Import Duties and Taxes for U.S. Vehicles Imported into Israel

The good news about importing a used vehicle into Israel is this: there are no customs duties. However, there are a number of taxes you will need to pay, and the size of the taxes will depend upon your citizenship status.

Those who are not immigrating to Israel will have to pay a substantial car tax of 92% of the car’s value. (More on how a vehicle’s value is determined below.) In addition to this, you will also be required to pay a Value Added Tax of 17%. This VAT is calculated based upon the total of the car’s value plus the car tax above. As you can see, despite the fact that there is no import duty, the cost of importing a used car from the United States into Israel can quickly become prohibitively expensive.

Things, though, are much different for those who are importing their car while also immigrating into Israel. In these cases, the car tax is lowered from the exceptionally high 92% to 50%. There is no break granted on the VAT, however, which will remain at 17%, and is again calculated based upon the car’s value plus the car tax paid.

As mentioned above, if you are not importing a used vehicle into Israel as part of relocation to the country, then the vehicle you’re importing can be no older than two years. If you are immigrating into the country, though, then you’ll want to understand how used vehicles have their values depreciated for tax purposes:

  • From 1 Month to 36 Months: 1% Depreciation per Month
  • From 37 Months to 60 Months: 0.75% Depreciation per Month
  • From 61 Months to 120 Months: 0.4166% Deprecation per Month
  • From 121 Months to 240 Months: 0.083% Deprecation per Month

Do note that the base value of a vehicle is up to the sole discretion of Israeli customs. In most cases, they will generally agree with your declared value provided that it is in accordance with standardized vehicle values on the global market. However, if there is any disagreement, then customs will notify you in writing of their change of valuation. You will then have the option to appeal their finding, should you wish.

How to Register an Imported Used Car in Israel

Vehicle registration in Israel is handled by the Ministry of Transport. Registrations are renewed annually, and vehicles must be submitted for inspection in order to ascertain their roadworthiness and compliance with emissions and other safety standards. Imported used vehicles that are older than 15 years must also have their brakes checked at a licensed garage prior to inspection. Used vehicles that are classified as classic or vintage must be tested at least twice per year.

To learn more about the process for registering a used U.S. vehicle that has been imported into Israel, please consult this handy guide. In addition, you may also wish to consult the official website for the Ministry of Transport here.

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