As many know, Italy is home to a culture that loves its vehicles, particularly those with classic looks. Like the rest of Europe, though, there’s also a growing interest in lower-cost and more fuel-efficient vehicles. As such, Italy has been attracting the attention of those who might wish to export used and salvage U.S. vehicles from the United States.
If you’ve been considering importing used or salvage vehicles from the United States into Italy, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to review everything that you need to know, from bidding on cars in online car auctions to clearing Italian customs. We’ll even discuss the process for registering a used U.S. vehicle in Italy and what cars are in the highest demand.
Purchasing Used Vehicles at U.S. Online Car Auctions
When you’re looking to get the best possible deal on a used or salvage vehicle in the United States, online car auctions are your best option. Through these services, you can sometimes save as much as 70 or even 80 percent on the total cost of a used vehicle.
Best of all, participating in online car auctions is incredibly easy, no more difficult than participating in other online auctions for other consumer products. To get started, you simply need to create an account and then make a deposit. The deposit needs to be made in order to establish your bidding power. With most online car auction sites, the size of your deposit represents 10% of your total maximum bid (e.g. a $500 deposit would equal a $5000 maximum bid).
Once your account is setup and your deposit is made, you can get to work browsing the online car auction site’s extensive database of offerings. In addition, you’ll also be connected with an auction agent or broker. He or she can help you with the searching process and can even connect you with auctions that can’t be publically displayed through the online car auction site’s databases. In addition, this agent can help you with the bidding process and also with researching vehicles you might wish to bid on.
Shipping a Used or Salvage U.S. Car to Italy
With most major and minor ports in the United States offering service to Italy, you should have no difficulty finding a shipping arrangement that’s convenient for you. You’ll only need to choose between traditional container shipping and something known as RORO shipping.
This latter option, which is short for “roll-on roll-off” shipping, is the cheaper of the two. Your vehicle will simply be rolled onto and off the boat, which keeps costs down. The drawback here, though, is that your vehicle will be exposed to the elements and has an increased chance of becoming damaged during shipping. Still, if you’re working with a less expensive vehicle, this risk might not be significant.
There are a number of ports along the Italian coast to which you can ship your used U.S. vehicle. However, if you’re shipping via container, then you’ll likely want to select one of the two major container ports for the country. The largest of these is the Port of Gioia Tauro. This port is the largest container port in Italy, receiving nearly one-third of all cargo shipped to Italy and serving as Europe’s seventh-largest port. There is also the Port of Genoa, which is the second largest container port in the country.
If you’d like more information about the Port of Gioia Tauro, you can visit its official website here. Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about the Port of Genoa, you can visit its official website here.
Clearing Your Used Vehicle Shipped to Italy Through U.S. Customs
When shipping your vehicle from the United States to Italy, you’ll find that clearing U.S. customs might be the easiest step in the whole process. The first thing that you’ll need to do is gather all the relevant documentation. This will include your vehicle’s Original Certificate of Title plus two of the following:
- Two complete copies of your vehicle’s Original Certificate of Title
- A certified copy of your vehicle’s Original Certificate of Title (from a notary)
Once these documents are in hand, you will need to bring them and the vehicle to U.S. customs at your port of departure. This should be done at least 72 hours in advance of your vehicle’s ship date. In order to find out where you will need to present your documents and the vehicle, simply contact the Port Director at your port of departure.
After U.S. customs has your vehicle and the documents, they will begin the clearance process. They’ll examine your title, ensuring the VIN and engine numbers correspond to the vehicle presented. In addition, they’ll also search the vehicle to ensure that there are no illegal items or substances stowed away.
Provided customs officers are satisfied after their inspection, your vehicle will be cleared and then loaded onto the boat. Should you have any further questions about the clearance process, simply visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website here.
Getting Your Used or Salvage Car Through Italian Customs
Thanks to the close relation between the United States and the European Union, importing salvage and used vehicles form the U.S. and into Italy is a relatively straightforward process. Once the vehicle arrives in port, you will need to present the following documentation to Italian customs.
- A completed copy of the TT2119 form, which you can access online here.
- Your Tax-Code Car (Codice Fiscal) and a copy
- Original Certificate of Title and copy
- Original vehicle registration and a certified copy translated into Italian
- Proof of roadworthiness
- Proof that the vehicle conforms with E.U. environmental standards
- Receipts for all import fees, customs duties and taxes
Once the above documentation has been examined and checked, Italian customs will clear the vehicle. From there, you will need to register the vehicle in Italy (unless it will be based in the country only temporarily). You can learn more about the vehicle registration process below.
There are no noteworthy restrictions placed upon the import of used U.S. vehicles into Italy aside from meeting environmental standards. Left-hand drive vehicles are acceptable, and there are no limits placed upon the acceptable age of a used vehicle imported into the country.
If you have any further questions about clearing your used vehicle through Italian customs, please consult the official website for the Agenzia Delle Dogane E Dei Monopoli (Customs Agency and Monopolies) here.
Import Duties and Taxes for U.S. Vehicles Imported into Italy
Italy is a member of the European Union. As such, the import duties for used and salvage vehicles in force elsewhere in the E.U. are also in force in Italy:
- There is a 10% tariff imposed on used and salvage passenger vehicles.
- Trucks and larger vehicles are subject to a 22% tariff.
- Auto parts that are new, used or refurbished are subject to a 4.5% tariff.
In addition to the above European Union tariffs that are in force, there are also taxes imposed by the Italian government itself. The first is a Value Added Tax (VAT) that’s currently set to 22%. In addition, the Italian government also imposes a luxury tax on imported used vehicles from the United States and elsewhere. This tax is based on the kilowatt power of a car’s engine. For every kilowatt above 185, a luxury tax of 20 euros is imposed.
Below, we’ll be discussing how to register a vehicle in Italy. However, it’s important to know that vehicle registration is also subject to a tax in the country. Like the luxury tax discussed above, this tax is based upon the kilowatt output of the car’s engine. Unlike the above luxury tax, though, this registration tax varies from municipality to municipality. To find out how much you’ll be liable for with respect to your imported used U.S. vehicle, you’ll need to consult the local administration where the vehicle will be registered.
How to Register an Imported Used Car in Italy
Car registration in Italy is incredibly straightforward and is overseen by the Pubblico Registro Automobilistico (PRA). In order to register your imported used U.S. vehicle, you will need to bring the documentation outlined below to a local branch of the PRA. (The branch you select should be the one the covers the residence for the vehicle’s owner.)
- An original copy of the vehicle’s United States registration and a copy of that registration
- An original copy of the vehicle’s United States Certificate of Title and a copy that title
- Your customs form received after importing the vehicle (Bolleta e Certificati Doganali)
- A completed form (provided by the PRA branch) that outlines the vehicle’s technical specifications
In instances where the vehicle has not been previously registered in the United States, you will need to provide the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin, which is known in Italy as the Certificato di Origine.
If the vehicle will only be based in Italy temporarily, then you will be able to operate the vehicle with foreign plates for a period of six months. After that, the vehicle will either need to be exported for the country, or a six-month extension will need to be granted by the PRA. Only one extension is possible, meaning that the maximum amount of time that a used vehicle from the United States can be operated in Italy without being registered is one year.
For more information about registering your used U.S. vehicle imported into Italy, please see the PRA’s website here. To answer other questions you might have about the registration process, you can also consult the Il Portale dell’Automobilista here. (Note both of the above websites are only provided in Italian.)
The Used Car Market in Italy
Due to the economic crisis in southern Europe that’s taken place in the past five years, both the new and used auto markets have taken a hit in Italy. The largest declines took place between 2012 and 2013, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the International Trade Administration. Over the past year, the market for both used and new vehicles has stabilized somewhat, but it’s still off from highs set before the economic crisis.
Speaking of used vehicles in particular, the market has been hampered significantly by growing environmental regulations in Italy and Europe. New and more stringent environmental standards have driven consumers toward new vehicles that meet these standards and away from ‘polluting’ used vehicles. That said, there is demand in the used automotive market for second-hand environmentally friendly vehicles. In fact, the electric model of the Ford Focus, as well as the Chevrolet Volt, are two popular American cars with Italian auto buyers.
Broadly speaking, the market for both new and used vehicles is moving in the direction of electric cars, hybrid cars and those making use of bio fuel. If you’re looking to import used U.S. vehicles into Italy, then preferring these kinds of vehicles would definitely be a wise decision. That said, there remains a strong demand for used classic and performance vehicles in Italy, and this definitely presents an opportunity for the savvy bidder in online car auctions.
The Most Popular Used Vehicles in Italy
European makes and models are by far the most popular in Italy. In particular, Italian-based Fiat absolutely dominates the top 10 for most popular models. The Fiat Panda is the most popular vehicle in the country, owning an incredible 8% market share, twice as much as the second-most popular model (the Lancia Ypsilon), which has a 3.7% market share. The Fiat 500L, Punto, 500X, and 500 also find themselves in the top 10, coming in third, sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.
The only American make to crack the top 10 in terms of popularity in Italy is Ford, whose Fiesta is the ninth most popular vehicle in the country. It currently owns a 2.6% market share. Ford also has another vehicle that’s in the top 30 and gaining in popularity, the Ford Ecosport. There are no Japanese makes or models in the top 10. However, the fuel-efficient and low-cost Toyota Yaris does come in at 11th place in terms of popularity with a 1.9% market share in the country. Volkswagen also owns a significant share in the Italian auto market, with its Golf and Polo both finding positions in the top 10.