USA to India Travel
Posted By Karthik

What’s the Process of Importing Used Cars from USA to India?


One of the largest economies in the world, India certainly loves luxury. And, what could represent a luxurious lifestyle more than a swanky imported car? With rising incomes and growth of the aspirational millennial population in the country, several luxury brands have already entered the Indian markets, with Audi even launching its own manufacturing unit in Aurangabad. But, when the statement made by luxury cars easily available on the Indian market isn’t enough, the rich and the restless look to import their dream car. If one wants to ride a muscular Mustang, for instance, it would be possible only by importing a from the US. The reason for this is the rigid automotive laws in India, which I have mentioned in an earlier article.

If you wish to import a used or salvaged car from America, you will first need to comply with all the rules set by the Indian government regarding automotive export and import. For instance, during the process of importation, you should remember the total customs duty on cars can come to around 181%. The car can only be imported if you are transferring residence into India and the engine capacity is less than 1600 cc (for new cars), there is no cc limit for old and used cars, in your possession for more than one year.

Lots of people come to me asking about the process of importing cars from the USA. I would like to share more about what happens initially. Keep in mind that every country has its individual laws regarding the import or export of vehicles.

Conditions for Importing Used Cars from USA

  • Age of the Car: The used vehicle must not be more than 3 years old from the date of its manufacture (for cars made in the USA, it is 2 years). Having said that, there are some issues regarding the age of a particular vehicle of import from the US. The roadworthiness should be 5 years.
  • Maneuvering/Control: The second-hand car must have right-hand drive. All controls should be on the right-hand side.
  • Speedometer: The speedometer of the said vehicle must denote the speed in kilometers.
  • Headlamps: The head lamps must be adjusted according to Indian norms.
  • Emission Norms: Apart from these, there will be a check for the emission of carbon and other pollutants from the imported vehicle. It must meet the stringent norms known as ‘Bharat Stages’.

Procedure for Importing Your Ride

  • Duties and Taxes: You will need to pay customs duty in foreign exchange. Following this, there are other duties and taxes to be paid, such that it sometimes can be as high as 125% of the total vehicle cost. Customs brokers should be contacted for all the money matters.
  • Pre-Import Testing & Certification: When the vehicle is imported from USA, it should have a certificate that proper testing was conducted in the country before exporting to India.
  • Post Import Testing & Certification: After the car is received by the port authority, it needs to be sent for testing before being allowed on Indian roads. This testing is done by the Vehicle Research and Development Establishment or Automotive Research Association of India in Pune. They will then issue a no objection certificate.
  • Gateway of Import: Vehicles can only be imported via the Mumbai port.
  • Post Import Servicing: The Indian government also seeks the assurance of the vehicle manufacturer that its services will still be available for the vehicle post import.

As far as imported cars are concerned, of zipping by in a Humvee or Chrysler or even a Lincoln can be thrilling. It definitely is an unparalleled status symbol. However, the process could take time. So, make sure you get as much information about the process before spending any money on the vehicle.


Having lived in 3+ countries, worked for companies small and big in USA, Middle East & India, I have a lot of stories to share about international travel, immigration and living as an NRI in the US.

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