Importing a car... any advice?

Hello, I am bringing a Nissan Skyline from Japan over here to the states. I have always wanted one since seeing them on “The Fast and The Furious”. Ok, my question is, this vehicle is the TRUE japan car, everything is on the right side of the vehicle. Now I live in Tn so I was wondering if this was legal? ALSO, the car dealer in Japan said he WAS NOT sure, but he thinks if I want to put turbo on it, that I will need a different engine… any advice?? Plus if anyone knows of a Good website to get import mods. I would really appreciate it! Thanks everyone!!

Richard Glisson

The first stop is the EPA.  Are they going to let it in?  If not you can forget the whole idea.  Does it meet US safety standards, if not it is a no-go.  Those are the people you are going to need to please.  There are a number of cars shipped to the US every year only to be crushed when they arrive because they did not meet the requirements for coming into the US. If you can't get an iron clad 100% warranty that it is US legal, run from that idea.

There are firms that will retrofit a foreign-market car so that it conforms with US emissions and safety regulations. Just be sure to budget about $20,000.00 for this service if you are interested. If you are really lucky, it will cost a bit less. If you are not really lucky, you could always get a second mortgage on the house.

If I purchase this vehicle and have it sent to me, I dont want to do any alterations to it, so I guess if he doesnt meet the EPA regulations I wont be buying it. But I have to have it shipped to Canada and pick it up. Anyone have any experience with importing? Its being freight shipped, so will I be able to drive it away, or must I have it delivered from Canada as well?

Have you thought about googling:

Nissan Skyline import usa

I came up with plenty of links including a firm that does the import.


Glipp; don’t even think about it!!! Canada and the US have a common market in automobiles, and Canadian standards are even stricter than the US! Canadian bunpers have to be stronger, headlights on all the time, theft warning logic in GPS, child seat anchors stronger.

I help some Canadians from time to time importing cars into Canada from the US. The Canadian government has a long list of cars, new and used that are nor permitted, and a list of those that can be modified. Recently a number of Prius cars imported by Canadians from the US sat in limbo for 6 months because of some minor item (theft I.D. system) was not installed.

As others pointed out, what will likley happen with a direct import is that your car will sit on the Los Angeles docks for about a year until all your paperwork is completed and you $20,000 contract with a conversion firm is inked.

Maybe your uncle serving in the US forces thirty years ago may have been able to do that, but those days are over.

Anyway, if you send it to canada it will sit on the Vancouver docks for a very long time, and you may not find a conversion firm in Canada.

Yea, talked to a Guy from the EPA today… EVERY skyline is illegal. He kept telling me I need to find and ICI to convert the car, however when I asked him if he advised any ICI (Individual Commercial Importer), he said “no there is not one that converts skylines”. Seems Motorex was the only company for a very long time that did this, but they scammed the gov. with alot of fake data about the skyline testing results…

your car will not clear customs and will be impounded. Don’t do this.

It’s just an object, it’s not illegal drugs or something, why would they impound it? He won’t be able to tag or insure it (and consequently, drive it), but as far as I know, there’s no law saying that the car can’t physically come here.

There is a requirement that any vehicle that is imported must meet all Federal safety and emission standards. Many years ago there was an exemption for individual autos but that has long since passed. Major companies certify their cars and thus have no problem importing them, but individuals must meet all requirements and if a certificate is not in place you are up the creek.

The goverment has to make some rules in order for society to work properly. Letting people import illegal cars that they will quickly lose track of makes no sense. There is a way out, I believe; if you own a movie studio and want to import the vehicle as a stage property, only to be driven on the set, you could do that. But you would not be able make it street legal, except by making all the modifications.

The Canadians importing Prius cars were allowed to drive them home with transit plates, because of the Canada-US auto pact, but they could not put license plates on them and drive them until the dispute was resolved.

A few years ago, I tried to help a friend import his Mazda form Venezuela where he had been working. This car was assembled in Colombia and lacked a number of things. The car was worth $9500 and the modifcations came to over $9000. This is very typical.

In the long run, it would be far cheaper just to get the US-market Skyline. They’re not here yet.

Google “Nissan GT-R”. Nissan already has the web page up for it.

or check for used ones someone else already brought into the states

Or you could just buy an Infiniti G35. Same car, USA legal.

The other posters are right that there is no way to do this and comply with federal law. However…

Some air-cooled VW enthusiasts who live in states with no emissions or safety inspections have gotten away with importing 1990’s and 2000’s model year air-cooled Beetles into this country simply by having a friend (accomplice?) in Mexico drive the thing up as a personal car to get it across the border. In many states a friendly and/or lazy person at the DMV can pretty much enter whatever they want-- the person just types in “1994 VW Beetle” and prints it off, and you have plates! This is especially true in states that do vehicle registration at a county level-- here in Montana, there’s smaller counties where you can register practically anything.

Now, obviosly a Skyline is a bit of a different situation, since it’ll cost you a heck of a lot more than a Mexican Beetle will and there’d be a lot more transportation costs on the line. Plus there might be severe penalties involved if you got caught, including seizure of your car.