The Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) enforces the exemption of eligible foreign missions and their members from payment of any taxes when purchasing, leasing, registering or titling a vehicle. The following procedures are associated with requesting and obtaining a tax exemption on purchases or leases of official or personal motor vehicles by eligible foreign missions and their members in the United States. A “motor vehicle” is defined as any self-propelled vehicle, including but not limited to automobiles, motorcycles, boats, and aircraft.
The exemption of sales and use taxes imposed on purchases or leases of motor vehicles in the United States on the basis of the diplomatic or consular status or accreditation of the purchasing foreign mission or accredited mission member and their dependents is solely authorized via the issuance of a Motor Vehicle Tax-Exemption Letter by the Department’s Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) to the seller or lessor of such motor vehicle. Note that Diplomatic Tax Exemption Cards are not valid for exemption from taxes imposed on purchases of motor vehicles.
Therefore, prior to finalizing a purchase or lease of a motor vehicle, all foreign missions and their accredited members must instruct the seller/lessor to directly contact OFM during normal business hours to request the issuance of a Motor Vehicle Tax-Exemption Letter.
Motor vehicle sellers/lessors may make such requests by electronic mail or telephone.
Sellers/lessors in Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia should direct requests to OFMTaxCustoms@state.gov or (202) 895-3500, x2. Sellers/lessors outside this area should direct requests to the nearest OFM Regional Office:
Sellers/lessors must provide the following information to OFM:
1. The seller/lessor’s name, mailing address, and telephone and fax numbers;
2. The color, year, make, and model of the motor vehicle that the mission or accredited mission member is planning to acquire; and
3. For official motor vehicles: the name of the foreign mission that is purchasing or leasing a motor vehicle; or
4. For personal motor vehicles: the name (as it appears on their current “A series” visa) of the accredited mission member or their dependent who is purchasing or leasing a motor vehicle, the name of the foreign mission to which the individual is assigned, and the individual’s Department-issued Personal Identification Number (PID). (Note that individuals must present proof of accreditation to the seller/lessor – i.e., valid passport which contains their current “A series” visa, or Department-issued protocol identification card, or Department-issued driver’s license, or Department-issued Diplomatic Tax Exemption Card.)
OFM strives to transmit Motor Vehicle Tax-Exemption Letters to the requesting seller/lessor by either electronic mail or facsimile within two hours of receiving the request.
Sellers/lessors are required to send all original ownership documents directly to OFM so that the motor vehicle can be properly registered and titled. Auto dealerships and state motor vehicle administrations should treat this transaction as an out of state registration. OFM will issue a registration card and federal license plates once proper documentation is received. Also, a title will be sent to the indicated lien holder to protect the interest of the lender.
For more information on these procedures, see the Department’s note No. 12-331, dated December 3, 2012
For more information on registration and titling, visit http://www.state.gov/ofm/dmv/index.htm.