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Moving or returning to the USA after residing in the UK? If you are planning to import your car to the USA, there are several things to think about. First and foremost, you have to arrange for the overseas transport of your car. At the same time, you have to make sure the car can pass all the checks upon entering the US.

In some cases, duty-free import is possible, so why not learn more about it? Check out our guide to shipping and importing a car from the UK.

How long does it take to ship a car from the UK to the USA?

On average, shipping a vehicle from the UK to the US will take 2-4 weeks. This depends on various factors, one of them being the shipping method. RoRo (Roll-on/Roll-off) shipping enables you to count on a reliable departure and arrival date, which is especially significant if you are a non-US resident and want your car to arrive at the same time as you. This can even qualify you for a duty-free import (read more about it below).

Overview of the shipping process

Everything starts with choosing the shipping company and obtaining the shipping rate. To obtain the rate, you usually have to provide your vehicle’s age, make, model, and location.
The next thing to do is to choose the method of shipping. RoRo shipping is the least expensive shipping method. RoRo ships are equipped with roll-on/roll-off ramps for cars to be driven on and off the vessel, hence the name of the method. To be able to ship your car via RoRo, the car has to be in driving condition. Once aboard a RoRo vessel, the vehicle is safely stored below deck with protective covers to keep it safe from harsh marine conditions and other external factors.

After you’ve arranged for the shipping, you have to arrange for the transport to the port. Liverpool and Southampton are most frequently used UK ports for shipping to the US. If you cannot drive or transport your car yourself, you should see which options are available. Your shipping company may arrange it for you.

Once the car arrives at the US port of your choosing, you can either pick it up or have it picked up for you.

Importation requirement for the USA

Essentially, your car has to pass CBP, EPA, and DOT checks. For example, the car has to pass the safety, bumper and smog check, as required by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulations. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designed a manual with clearly outlined procedures for importing vehicles and engines into the USA. The regulations concern non-US-version cars and also US-version cars driven overseas. Lastly, the Department of Transportation (DOT) prescribed a set of Motor Vehicle Safety, Bumper and Theft Prevention Standards with which the car has to comply to be imported into the USA.

NOTE: If the imported car wasn’t made in the USA, isn’t returning and is 25 years old or older, it can be registered in the USA. For vehicles that do not fulfill these criteria, import is possible for a period of up to 1 year.

Duty-free import from the UK

Returning individuals holding the US citizenship are eligible for duty-free import into the US. Additionally, US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, US government contractors and US government employees can also import their vehicles from the UK duty-free.

For non-US residents

Non-residents may import a vehicle duty-free if it’s intended for personal use for the period of one year if the time of the import coincides with the importer’s arrival in the USA.
Nevertheless, non-residents have to obtain a pre-approval from the EPA prior to their arrival in order to import the car. The estimated time to obtain the approval is two weeks, during which time the vehicle shouldn’t leave the country of origin.

For more information on the import requirements and shipping services from the UK to the US, contact Ship Overseas, an international shipping company with more than 3 decades of being the car shipping industry.