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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Converting a Nonconforming Motor Vehicle

Imported Motor Vehicles that do not conform to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safety and emissions standards may not be sold in the United States unless they are brought into compliance, they must be exported once the Motor Vehicle is removed from the diplomatic registration program.

To bring into compliance, or "convert" a non-conforming Motor Vehicle to U.S. safety and emissions standards:

1. The foreign Mission must advise OFM by diplomatic note of its intention to convert the Motor Vehicle to meet DOT and EPA standards and give the reason for doing so.

2. The diplomatic note must indicate the owner's name; the Motor Vehicle's identification number, year, make, model and license plate assigned; and the Motor Vehicle's date of duty-free entry into the United States.

3. If all criteria are met, OFM will respond in writing to authorize the conversion.

4. The owner must then go to any Bureau of Customs and Boarder Protection (BCBP) port of entry to complete the necessary customs forms regarding the Motor Vehicle and provide BCBP with a copy of OFM's authorization for the conversion and documentation that establishes the Motor Vehicle's arrival date and its dollar value at the time of duty-free entry. In addition, the posting of a customs bond for three (3) times the value of the car is required to ensure the vehicle will be converted to meet DOT and EPA standards within the prescribed time limit.

5. The owner must convert the Motor Vehicle to meet the DOT and EPA standards within the time limit set and submit the necessary verification papers to both agencies (EPA allows 90 days for conversion; DOT allows 120 days). When both agencies have approved the Motor Vehicle's conversion, the customs bond can be release to the Motor Vehicle owner.

6. Once DOT and EPA have approved the conversions, OFM will issue a title to allow the owner to sell the Motor Vehicle or register it locally


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