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Quick Guide to Buying a Car Overseas

Buying a car can be one of the most fun and rewarding processes since a car is so much more than something you use to get from point A to point B.  People who love cars or who care about what they drive know that they spend a lot of time in their vehicles and that their cars are a reflection of their personality. Some cars are also a lot more fun to drive than others; or are a lot more environmentally friendly and less costly to operate.


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Regardless of what you are looking for in a car, you can significantly expand your buying opportunities if you are willing to buy a vehicle overseas. You can get a broader selection of a lot of different kinds of cars when buying overseas and you can get car technologies and vehicles that may not necessarily be available in the U.S.  Depending upon where you buy your vehicle from, you may also be able to benefit from a favorable exchange rate or from the lower cost of a car purchased abroad as compared with purchased locally.

Of course, when you buy a car overseas, there are some logistical issues that you need to think about and there are a lot of procedural steps you need to take to ensure that your car is going to be able to legally enter the United States and legally be driven on the U.S. roads. You also want to ensure that you have a plan for getting the vehicle safely into the country without damage to the car or problems at customs.


Guide to Buying a Car Overseas


When buying a car overseas, here are a few of the key things that you need to take into consideration and plan for:

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  • Taxes: You may be required to pay import and customs taxes on the vehicle that you bring into the country from overseas.  You should find out what your local and federal rules are regarding taxes on a vehicle from another country and make sure that the costs are affordable to you. The last thing you want to do is to have the car ordered but be unable to bring it into the country since you cannot afford the cost of import fees and taxes.
  • Safety regulations: In most parts of the world, the United Nations World Forum of Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations sets the rules for car safety standards. In the United States, however, there are different requirements and the U.S. is one of just a few countries that doesn’t recognize the U.N. standards. Since there are different regulations, you need to ensure that the car you are importing into your country meets the local safety guidelines and can be driven on local roads.  You also don’t want to compromise your safety by driving a vehicle that doesn’t have all of the mandatory consumer protections in place within the vehicle.
  • Warranty violation issues: Cars come with warranties and the laws in the U.S. protect drivers from buying a “lemon.” If either an express or an implied warranty is violated, you can normally take legal action against the car manufacturer or the car seller so you can get your money back or get the problems fixed with the vehicle. If you purchased the car overseas, though, this may not be the case. When you buy a car overseas, you are going to have a lot more trouble getting the problems fixed and getting warranty issues dealt with. Be sure you understand the risk you are taking on and have a plan in place to deal with problems that may arise with the vehicle if you don’t have a local place to go to get warranty service. For more warranty info, look at
  • Shipping: You need to have some way to get the vehicle shipped back to your own country so that you can pick up the vehicle and drive it.  In Australia there are services like Express Link that make it possible for you to ship the vehicle safely and affordably. When you use a shipping service to help you to ship the vehicle, it is imperative that you make sure the service understands the customs requirements for entering the country and has a long track record of shipping vehicles.

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These are just some of the many things to think about before you buy a car in a different country.  

About the author:
Jim Hunter is a military veteran who learned a lot in his time overseas. He’s always willing to give advice on how to deal with the back and forth life.
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