How to Import Foreign Cars in India? - All About Buying & Selling of Used Cars, New Car Launches
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How to Import Foreign Cars in India?

While most of the major car manufacturers have set up shop in India, the cars they offer often need to be imported rather than purchased “off the shelf”. Some of the big names like Rolls-Royce, Bugatti, Dodge, Bentley, Maserati, and more import their cars whenever a purchase is made. As you would already know, importing a car from a foreign country can be extremely expensive. However, it isn’t only the price tag that is heavy for these imported cars – the importing process itself is a daunting and lengthy one. India has a number of rules and regulations that have to be followed strictly before anyone can import a car from abroad. What would you do to get your hands on your dream imported car? Let’s take a look at the procedure for importing a foreign car into India.

Conditions for Importing a Foreign Car into India

There are different rules in India when it comes to importing a brand new car as opposed to importing a used or second-hand car.

Rules for importing a new car:

  • The chosen car has to be assembled or manufactured outside the country.
  • The car has to be imported from the country where it was manufactured/assembled only.
  • The car has to be absolutely new – not previously registered, loaned, sold, or leased before it enters the country.
  • The vehicle has to be a right-hand drive.
  • The vehicle needs to have headlights that are capable of illuminating the left side of the road.
  • The vehicle has to have a speedometer that displays the speed in kilometers rather than miles.
  • The vehicle has to be brought into the country through the naval docks situated in Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai only.

Rules for importing a used car:

  • When importing a used vehicle into India, the car/bike should not be older than 3 years since its manufacture.
  • The vehicle has to be a right-hand drive to abide by the rules in India.
  • The vehicle needs to have headlights that are capable of illuminating the left side of the road.
  • The vehicle has to have a speedometer that displays the speed in kilometers rather than miles.
  • The vehicle has to be brought into the country through the naval docks situated in Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai only.
  • The vehicle should come with proof of it being previously sold, loaned, registered, or leased.
  • The second-hand vehicle has to be roadworthy and must come with a certificate that showcases that. The roadworthiness certificate should also have a minimum validity of 5 years.

Transfer of Residence

NRIs or Non-Resident Indians and foreign nationals are allowed to import a single vehicle permanently into the country. The vehicle can be a two-wheeler or four-wheeler – new or used. However, there are certain conditions for the transfer of residence to be considered legal.

  • The person importing the vehicle should not have been staying in the country for at least 2 years before the transfer of residence was applied for.
  • After the transfer is complete, the person must have a plan to stay in the country for at least 1 year.
  • The person cannot apply for a “transfer of residence” for at least 3 years after one transfer is complete.
  • Transfer of Residence can only be applied by one member of the family and he/she needs to fill the Transfer of Residence Form to complete the process.
  • The vehicle that has to be imported needs to be imported within 6 months after the person enters the country.
  • If the person intends to sell the imported vehicle, they can only do so after 2 years from the date of the transfer.
  • There are no restrictions if the vehicle is either new or used as long as the car/bike has an engine capacity between 75cc and 500cc.
  • If the imported vehicle has an engine capacity of over 1,600cc, it has to be registered for at least 1 year before it can be imported into the country.

Banned Vehicles

While India allows all types of vehicles into the country, there are certain restrictions that one must adhere to before they can begin the import procedure. Here are some of the specifications that need to be considered when importing a vehicle into India.

  • Vehicles that have an engine capacity ranging between 1,000cc and 2,500cc are not allowed into the country.
  • Any heavy-duty bikes or two-wheelers with an engine capacity ranging between 50cc and 500cc are not allowed into the country.
  • Scooters with engine capacities between 250cc and 800cc are banned from being imported into India.

Can you Import Commercial Vehicles into India?

Foreign commercial vehicles are allowed into the country but have to meet extremely strict criteria before they can be driven. Commercial vehicles have additional rules and regulations because passengers usually travel in these vehicles and so they must meet certain safety standards. Here are the terms by which a foreign commercial vehicle can be imported into the country:

  • The person importing the vehicle should not have resided in the country for at least 2 years before the import and they must have owned the vehicle for at least 1 year.
  • Any legal heirs (relatives/successors) of a person who has left a vehicle in their possession can import the vehicle into India.
  • Any person with a physical disability can import a foreign commercial vehicle into India.
  • Any Indian business that has foreign equity participation can import commercial vehicles into the country.
  • Any foreign business that has an office branch in India can import vehicles into the country.
  • Legally registered missionary, religious, or charitable trusts in India that follow the Central or State Government rules.
  • Honorary Consuls that are recommended by the Government of India and the Ministry of External Affairs can import commercial vehicles into India.
  • Journalists who possess accreditation certification from the Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.

What is the Procedure for Importing a Foreign Car into India?

When it comes to importing a foreign car into India, there are essentially two ways to complete the process – through an agent or directly from a manufacturer. If you choose to import a vehicle directly from the manufacturer, you will have to get all the paperwork and documentation done by yourself. Even after the vehicle enters the country, you will have to complete all the required steps before it can legally be allowed on Indian roads. On the other hand, when importing a foreign vehicle through an agent, you will not have to do any of the paperwork or documentation until the vehicle is officially registered.

Paperwork and Documents Required for Importing a Foreign Car

Here is everything you need in terms of paperwork and documentation when importing a car into the country:

  • Insurance Policy.
  • Bank Draft.
  • Invoice of the vehicle.
  • Import Licence.
  • Test Report.
  • Sea Waybill or Bill of Landing.
  • GATT Declaration.
  • Letter of Credit/Purchase Order.
  • DEEC (Duty Exemption Entitlement Certificate) / DEPB (Duty Entitlement Pass Book) / ECGC (Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India) and other documents as required.

What are some things to consider before importing a car into India?

As mentioned earlier, importing a car into India is a long, expensive, and complicated process. However, if you are willing to go through with it, there are some things to consider before you can import a vehicle into the country.

Import Duty on Cars: When importing a car into India, you will most likely have to pay about 165 percent of the cost of the vehicle along with the car insurance and CIF (freight) costs.

Import Duty on Bikes: When importing a bike into India, you will most likely have to pay about 116 percent of the cost of the vehicle along with the car insurance and CIF (freight) costs.

Registration: Registering the imported vehicle is mandatory which has to be done at the nearest RTO. The import duty charges do not include the road tax and charges for registration for the vehicle. These charges vary depending on the type and cost of the vehicle being imported into the country.

If you are a person who is looking to import your favourite vehicle into the country, this article should help you get through the process successfully and easily. Which is your dream foreign car and would you be willing to go through the procedure mentioned here to import it into the country?