Importing Vehicles and Engines

Learn About Importing Vehicles and Engines

Overview of EPA Import Requirements for Vehicles and Engines: This document provides a summary of EPA requirements for importing vehicles and engines.

The Clean Air Act prohibits importation into the United States of any motor vehicle, motor vehicle engine, nonroad engine and equipment that does not conform to United States EPA emission standards and requirements.  These standards apply to all vehicles and engines including imported motor vehicles, heavy-duty engines, nonroad engines, (generators, watercraft, and lawn and garden equipment), and recreational vehicles, whether they are new or used, manufactured domestically or abroad.

Nonconforming vehicles and engines can be imported in two circumstances:

By Certification:
Nonconforming vehicles can be imported, if they are modified, tested and certified by an Independent Commercial Importer (ICI).
By Exemption:
EPA regulations also allow nonconforming vehicles and engines to be temporarily imported under United States Customs bond, if they qualify for an EPA exemption.  EPA and Customs regulations allow for the temporary importation of nonconforming vehicles with EPA pre-approval for the following purposes:
  • Testing
  • Display
  • Repair or alteration
  • Nonresident
  • Competition/Racing
PROSPECTIVE IMPORTERS BEWARE! BEFORE shipping a nonconforming vehicle or engine to the United States, importers MUST either:
  • make arrangements with an ICI for modifications, testing, and certification, or
  • obtain EPA pre-approval for the exemptions listed above.
  • Importation of Vehicles Over 21 Years Old - The EPA has long interpreted the equivalence requirement to mean that the engine must be identical to the engine that was originally installed. Such an engine is one that is the same model and configuration as the original engine.  Importers wishing to utilize this provision are strongly encouraged to contact the EPA Imports Hotline prior to importation of such vehicles to ensure that the equivalency requirements are met.  The Imports Hotline can be reached at or 734-214-4100.

Importers are encouraged to read the detailed information on the importation of nonconforming vehicles and engines, which can be found in the Procedures for Importing Vehicles and Engines into the United States.

Also be aware that United States Customs and/or EPA can seize and/or export any goods that arrive at a United States port of entry without the appropriate ICI arrangements or a valid EPA exemption, and can levy other fines and penalties.

Other Federal Requirements: