Motor vehicle manufacturers are not required to submit to NHTSA, and do not submit to NHTSA, information on whether any particular vehicle they manufacture has been manufactured to comply with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety (and, where applicable, bumper and theft prevention) standards. Moreover, there is no way for NHTSA to discern, from the VIN that has been assigned to a vehicle, or from any other identifying characteristic, whether the vehicle was originally manufactured to comply with all applicable standards. The only way that NHTSA could tell whether a given vehicle has been so manufactured is if the manufacturer has affixed a label to the vehicle certifying its compliance with all applicable standards. If you are unable to find a certification label on a particular vehicle, and are interested in learning whether the vehicle was originally manufactured to comply with all applicable standards, you should contact the vehicle's manufacturer. A list of manufacturer contacts can be found at nhtsa.gov/importing-vehicle.
IMPORTING A VEHICLE ALREADY ELIGIBLE
NHTSA makes import eligibility decisions on a make, model, and model year basis. A list of vehicles that NHTSA has determined to be eligible for importation can be found on our web site at nhtsa.gov/importing-vehicle. If the vehicle you are seeking to import is of a make, model, and model year that is on that list, it can be imported by an RI, or by a person who has a contract with an RI to modify the vehicle so that it conforms to all applicable FMVSS and bumper standards after importation. At the time that NHTSA determines a vehicle of a particular make, model, and model year to be eligible for importation, the agency assigns the vehicle a unique vehicle eligibility number. That number is to be entered on the appropriate block of the HS-7 Declaration form that is to be given to Customs at the time of importation. The number alerts Customs to the fact that the vehicle can be lawfully imported (by an RI or by a person who has a contract with an RI to modify the vehicle), even though the vehicle was not originally manufactured to comply with all applicable FMVSS.
IMPORTING A 25 YEAR OLD VEHICLE
A motor vehicle that is at least 25 years old can be lawfully imported into the U.S. without regard to whether it complies with all applicable FMVSS. Such a vehicle would be entered under Box 1 on the HS-7 Declaration form to be given to Customs at the time of importation. If you wish to see that form, you may download a copy from our website at nhtsa.gov/importing-vehicle. You should note that the 25 year period runs from the date of the vehicle's manufacture. If the date of manufacture is not identified on a label permanently affixed to the vehicle by its original manufacturer, to establish the age of the vehicle, you should have documentation available such as an invoice showing the date the vehicle was first sold or a registration document showing that the vehicle was registered at least 25 years ago. Absent such information, a statement from a recognized vehicle historical society identifying the age of the vehicle could be used.