How To Ensure The Second-Hand Vehicle You Purchased Overseas Is Safe To Use

How To Ensure The Second-Hand Vehicle You Purchased Overseas Is Safe To Use

Daniel Hall 19/01/2021 5
How To Ensure The Second-Hand Vehicle You Purchased Overseas Is Safe To Use

Many of us find cars we absolutely love that are simply not available in our own home country.

Fortunately, if you can afford to do so, you can buy any car you like from abroad and import it, as long as it fits the US rules. There are likely many questions you have regarding the importation of vehicles and their legality to use on US roads, and how to make sure the vehicle is safe. In this article, we are going to discuss exactly that, the how’s, what’s, and why’s of ensuring the second-hand vehicle you have purchased from overseas is safe and legal to use. There is plenty to consider, so, let’s get into it.


Why and How To Buy An Overseas Vehicle?

In many cases, it’s as simple as finding a car you love that is not regularly sold in the United States. Many brands are based in Europe and do not replicate the same models for the US market. This means it’s time to start thinking about importing a vehicle. To do this, you first need to find the vehicle you want. You can do this by searching on UK car sales listings, reaching out to dealerships, or contacting manufacturers. If you find a privately listed vehicle, you will have to do much of the importing paperwork and logistics yourself. However, working with a dealership or manufacturer may mean they are able to help you with much of the paperwork.

Check Its Emissions Ratings

One of the most important things to check when attempting to import a vehicle into the United States is its emissions ratings. As stated by one of the best auto accident lawyer Houston TX, “The US as a whole, and each individual state, have emissions ratings on what vehicles can be driven on US roads. It is important to compare the emissions levels from your desired vehicle against these local restrictions.” If you import a vehicle without checking this, then it turns out to be illegal, you will not be able to drive it in this country.

Insist on Logbooks

When purchasing a second-hand car from the US or from abroad, it is important to check out as much of the car’s history as possible. In most countries, cars have logbooks. These are records of everything that has been fixed, altered, or worked on throughout the life of the car. This is important for both knowing the quality of the car you are purchasing and helping get insurance. A car with no logbook is a red flag as it could have had work done to it by unlicensed mechanics, or have had illegal parts fitted. You should never purchase a car without a good service history. 

Have it Checked by a Mechanic

Even with proper logbooks in place, you still want to ensure this vehicle is roadworthy and safe. If you are doing this from abroad and are unable to check the car over in person, it’s time to find an independent mechanic in the local area. Ask a mechanic who is not affiliated with the sale to check over the car for you. They will look for any damage, tired parts, or potential faults with the vehicle that may not have been mentioned by the seller. This second opinion is very important to make sure the car is both value for money and safe to drive.

Make Sure You File The Paperwork

Once you have settled on a vehicle, and you know it is safe, it is time to start working on the paperwork. There is a fair bit of paperwork involved in importing a vehicle including registration, import duties, taxes, and more. If you are struggling, your local DMV office will be able to help. And, as we mentioned, an experienced seller may be able to sort a lot of the paperwork for you.

Clean The Undercarriage

Finally, you need to ensure the undercarriage of the car is cleaned before importing. Customs officers will check this, so it needs to be done. The USA customs teams will not allow a car to enter the USA with soil, dirt, or vegetation from another country on or underneath it, due to environmental law. Missing this could result in refusal of import or lengthy delays.


So, with all of this in mind, you should be able to start planning your import of a safe, legal, and beautiful car from another country. It may be a lengthy process, but once you’ve got the vehicle in your garage you’ll be pleased you did it. Happy driving!

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  • Luke Potter

    Check Engine: not rotary? Good you’re all set.

  • Jonny Nelson

    Rule 1. Trust no car salesman | Rule 2. See Rule 1

  • David Marsh

    Look for a car in a sunny day and take your time to inspect every panel for rust spots thank me later...

  • Neil Douglas

    ALWAYS do a full emergency brake to test that the ABS system works properly.

  • Ryan Greenhalgh

    #1 tip is to always check a used car under direct day light....never at night or in a garage

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Daniel Hall

Business Expert

Daniel Hall is an experienced digital marketer, author and world traveller. He spends a lot of his free time flipping through books and learning about a plethora of topics.

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