Imported vehicles manufactured with non-U.S. standards

Here’s how to get your non-U.S. standard (grey market) vehicle inspected

Imported vehicles manufactured with non-U.S. standards

Here’s how to get your non-U.S. standard (grey market) vehicle inspected

Imported grey-market vehicle overview

A grey-market vehicle is manufactured outside of the United States and isn’t originally built to meet U.S. safety and emissions standards.

The vehicle may need to be modified after it’s imported. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Federal Department of Transportation (DOT)  also need to approve the vehicle before you can register it. 

U.S. Customs form 7501, "Entry summary" is provided to the importer at the port of entry when the vehicle is brought into the U.S. The form must be signed by the importer and provided to the applicant. Please see below for contact information for these agencies.

Essential information

The applicant will need to find a "conversion shop" that is federally approved and can make the necessary alterations to the vehicle in accordance with federal standards. For example, door braces are necessary because federal standards require that doors be able to withstand 700 pounds per square inch. 

You can get a list of federally approved conversion shops from DOT and EPA. The conversion shop will contact DOT and EPA for certification that the conversion has occurred.

New vehicles
The owner must also present a Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (on bank note paper) to register the vehicle. Photocopies are not acceptable. 

Used vehicles
The owner must present the proper ownership documentation (i.e., foreign equivalents of "Title" Certificates, such as the German Fahrzugbrief). 

Documentation must not show any break in continuity of ownership. The EPA and DOT letters are required to be a permanent part of the ownership record. The buyer should contact the US DOT and US EPA for copies of the letters If the seller does not have the required letters.

If the DMV isn’t satisfied with the documentation of ownership; the owner will need to post a surety bond of two times the book value of the vehicle before the vehicle can be registered. The bond is automatically cancelled three years after the validation of the registration (such bonds can be obtained through an insurance agent or broker).

U.S. DOT and EPA forms are not required (U.S. Customs form is still required) if the importer or importer's agent submits documentation from these agencies that the vehicle is complying or exempt   from, U.S. emission and safety standards. 

Both documents must indicate compliance or exemption, or a manufacturer's Certificate of Origin has been issued, indicating the vehicle has complied with EPA and DOT standards.


Contact information

U.S. Customs
P.O. Box 7407
Washington, D.C., 20044
(202) 354-1000

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
400 Seventh St. S.W.
Washington, D.C., 20590
(800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-0123

Manufacturers Operations Division
Investigation/Imports Section
401 Main St. S.W.
Washington, D.C., 20460
(202) 260-4111