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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Vehicle Tax Exemption

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 detail how vehicles acquired by diplomatic personnel can be authorized for tax exemption. 

All Official and Personal Vehicle Acquisitions Must Be Authorized for
Tax-Exemption by OFM

  1. The purchaser must: request that the seller/lessor contact either the Tax and Customs Program Office of the Department's Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) or the approperaite OFM Regional Office for a determination on the tax-exempt status of the purchase.  Such requests will only be accepted during normal business hours. The seller will have two options for contacting OFM - (a) by electronic mail or (b) by telephone.  

a)  For the electronic mail option, the seller in DC, MD, or VA whould send an email to OFM  The seller outside of the Washington DC region should send an email to the appropriate OFM Regional Office.

Such emails must include the following information:

    1. Buyer's name.
    2. Type of purchase - official or personal
    3. Buyer's Driver License Number, Personal Identification Number (PID), or date of birth
    4. The mission or organization to which the buyer is assigned.
    5. The dealership's name, mailing address, and phone and fax numbers.
    6. The "Vehicle Identification Number" (VIN) assigned to the vehicle themission or individual is lanning to purchase or lease. 

b) If vendors wish to contact OFM by telephone, the telephone number that the seller should use for personnel assigned within the Washington DC metropolitan area is (202) 895-3500, extension 2.  If the purchase is being  is being made outside of the Washington D.C. area, the purchaser may also contact an OFM Regional Office. The OFM Regional Offices are located in Chicago (312) 353-5762, Houston (713) 272-2865, Los Angeles (310) 235-6292, Miami (305) 442-4943, New York (212) 826-4500, and San Francisco (415) 744-2910. 

OFM will: determine the tax-exempt status of the purchaser and provide a letter to the seller/lessorl stating whether  the purchaser is eligible for exemption from taxes imposed at the point of purchase/lease.  If the inquiry is made by email, OFM will respond to the vendor's email with a leter, confirming the purchaser/lease's tax-exemption eligibility.  If the request is made by phone., OFM will fax the seller a similar letter concerning the foreign mission or member's tax-exempt status.  The only legal means of obtaining a diplomatic tax exemption on the purdhase or lease of a vehicle is through the issuance of this letter by OFM.. 

The tax-exemption procedures described above apply to the lease or purchase of any motorized vehicle purchased or leased by foreign missions or their members. Therefore, the acquisition of any of the following motor vehicles or others that are not listed must be directly authorized for the tax-exemption by OFM's Tax and Customs Program or an OFM Regional Office: automobiles, vans, trucks, recreational vehicles, traileds motorcycles, mopeds, buses, sailboats, motor boats, yachts, "jet skis", personnal water crafts, airplanes, or helicopters.

Existing vehicle registration procedures will not change as a result of this new policy.  Diplomatic missions and their members, including dependents, are required to register all vehicles that they own or lease with the OFM Diplomatic Vehicle Office.  At the time of purchase, all original ownership documents must be submitted to the Diplomatic Motor Vehicle Office for proper vehicle registration. 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.


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