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Purchasing a car from overseas? 8 things you should know beforehand

So, you’ve found the car of your dreams…outside of the country. Here’s what you need to know so that getting your dream car doesn’t become a nightmare.

Slow down

Don’t let your excitement lead you to purchase without due diligence. Understand exactly what you are getting. Here’s a hint – the seller’s word is not enough. Photos and descriptions may tell only part of the story. Check in with other enthusiasts of the make and model, hire an independent inspector, and review the history of the car. Buyer beware takes on an entirely new meaning when the seller isn’t around the corner.

Understand the real cost

In addition to the price of the car, you will want to factor in the cost of money transfers, exchange rates and fees, including duty fees. Compare costs and options among at least three providers to find the best deal for your situation. You’ll also want to check with your local DMV about any state taxes that may be applicable.

Be sure the car is road ready for the USA

The car should meet basic requirements for road vehicles driven in the United States. If that isn’t the case on purchase, learn about any adjustments you will need to make to stay on the right side of the law. Visit to learn about specific requirements.

Check for eligibility

Know before you buy if the car is eligible to enter the United States. You will also want to check with your local DMV or shipping company about documents that must be filed when importing a vehicle. Visit for a wealth of information including links to applications, forms, eligibility guidelines and more.

Enjoy military perks

If you’re in the military, buy well in advance (at least six months) of your return to the United States to enjoy special discounts and perks. You’ll also have the pleasure of driving your car and creating memories in the place where you are stationed.

Research shipping

How will you get your new beauty in your garage? Choose a highly rated shipper you can trust to deliver your car safely and in a timely fashion at a fair price. Avoid too good to be true shipping deals. You’ll be telling nightmare stories of your car being held hostage so often your friends will hate to see you coming. You can use an independent commercial importer if your car does not meet US emissions standards.

Research the title

Cars without a clear title cannot be shipped. Verify the title before you close the deal to save yourself a big headache.

Create a paper trail

If the deal goes sour you will want documented evidence of the deal you thought you were getting. As much as possible, get everything in writing. If anything goes wrong, you’ll be glad you did.

Purchasing a car overseas can be your key to the wheels of your dreams. Due diligence is critical. You’ll have the best experience when you understand the history of the car as well as the full cost, including any fees, taxes, modifications and shipping.

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