From Indian celebrities and business tycoons to cricketers, all have been in the spotlight for owing an absolutely fascinating imported foreign car. Such cars are so awe-inspiring that people willingly spend a ton of money to get them imported to India, a country that has laid a rigorous set of rules and regulations when it comes to the import of foreign vehicles.

How To Import Foreign Cars To India – Procedure, Guidelines - Acko

The process of importing a foreign vehicle to India is slightly complex as well as time-consuming. But for a person who is ready to spend both time and money for this purpose can get their dream car by abiding by the rules and by carrying out the said procedure. In this article, we will discuss how you import a foreign vehicle to India along with important guidelines that you need to follow regarding the import.

Importing Foreign Cars To India:

As mentioned earlier, the guidelines for importing a foreign vehicle to India are pretty strict as compared to other countries. Only those foreign vehicles will be allowed to ply on Indian roads that fulfil every rule of compliance. Here is a list of details for different types of foreign cars:

Conditions For Importing Foreign Cars To India:

Rules To Import A New Car:

The rules for importing a brand-new vehicle to India are different from rules for importing a used vehicle. The following conditions must be met to import a new car:

  • The car should be manufactured or assembled outside India.
  • The car must be imported only from the country where it was built.
  • The car must be new in every sense. It must not be previously sold, loaned, registered, or leased before being imported to India.
  • The vehicle must be right-hand drive.
  • The headlights of the car should be such that they are suitable for illuminating the left side of the road
  • The speedometer should show speed in kilometres and not miles
  • Importing a car is only possible via naval docks situated in Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. Thus, the car should be brought to India via any of these ports only.

Rules To Import A Used Car:

The rules for importing a used car to India are quite strict and it may take more time for the process to complete. Here are the guidelines:

  • The manufacturing year of second-hand imported cars should not be more than 3 years.
  • The vehicle must be right-hand drive.
  • The headlights of the car should be such that they are suitable for illuminating the left side of the road.
  • The speedometer should show speed in kilometres and not miles.
  • Importing a car is only possible via naval docks situated in Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. Thus, the car should be brought to India via any of these ports only.
  • The car should be either loaned, leased, registered or sold.
  • It is important that the vehicle is roadworthy. Thus, it should have a roadworthiness certificate and its validity should be at least 5 years.

Banned Vehicles:

Banned vehicles cannot be imported to India. A person needs to make sure that the vehicle being imported does not have the following specifications:

  • Cars that have an engine capacity ranging from 1,000cc to 2,500cc.
  • Heavy-duty two-wheelers or bikes that have an engine capacity ranging from 50cc to 500cc.
  • Scooters that have an engine capacity ranging from 250cc to 800cc.

Transfer Of Residence:

India allows foreign nationals or Non-resident Indians (NRIs) to import one vehicle while shifting permanently to India. The vehicle can be a car or two-wheeler, new or used. Here are the other conditions for the import of a car/bike under “transfer of residence”:

  • The foreign national/NRI should not have stayed in India for at least 2 years before the transfer.
  • The person should have a plan of residing in India for at least one year after the transfer.
  • The person should not have gone through the process of “transfer of residence” for at least three years before the current transfer process.
  • This process can be carried out by only one member of the family. He/she needs to fill the Transfer of Residence Form for the purpose.
  • The car/bike should be imported within six months of shifting base to India.
  • The sale of an imported vehicle is prohibited for at least two years after the transfer. Thus, the person should wait for 2 years in order to sell the vehicle.
  • No restriction of being new or used if the engine capacity of the vehicle is between 75cc and 500cc.
  • If the engine capacity of the car being imported is more than 1,600cc, then it should be registered for at least 1 year before the import.

Who Can Import Commercial Vehicles To India?

Commercial vehicles need to fulfil additional criteria to be imported to India. The rules are strict for commercial vehicles because passengers may travel via imported passenger cars, multi-utility vehicles, or jeeps. Here are the set of profiles that can import such vehicles into the country:

  1. The foreign national/NRI who has not resided in India for at least 2 years before the import. He/she should own a vehicle for at least 1 year.
  2. Relatives i.e. legal heirs/successors of a person who died abroad and has left a vehicle in their possession.
  3. People who are physically challenged.
  4. Business entities existing in India that have foreign equity participation.
  5. Foreign business entities that have a branch office in India.
  6. Religious, missionary, or charitable trusts that are legally registered in India and follow the said rules laid down by the State or Central Government.
  7. Any Honorary Consuls that is recommended by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
  8. Any journalist possessing the accreditation certificate from the Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India.

Also, read: Why are Imported Cars So Expensive?

Procedure For Import Of Foreign Car:

There are two ways in which you can get the car imported to India. The vehicle can be imported either directly from the manufacturer or through an agent. You need to arrange the required documents and follow up on the process by yourself. On the other hand, an agent will help you get the car imported to India and help you till you get the car registered in the country.

Paperwork And Documentation:

The following paperwork will be required for importing a vehicle to India. 

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

Note that more documents might be required while actually completing the process of import. 

Also, read: Things You Should Never Do to Your Automatic & Manual Car

Things To Consider Before Importing A Car Into India:

Importing a vehicle to India is a time-consuming process, thus it is important to consider certain things before you begin the process. Here is a list of things you should be aware of before importing a vehicle to India:

  • Import Duty on cars

You may need to pay approximately 165% of the car’s cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) value as import duty.

  • Import Duty on bikes

You may need to pay approximately 116% of the bike’s cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) value as import duty.

  • Registration

The vehicle needs to be registered in India at the nearest RTO. The charges for registration and road tax are not included in the import duty. These charges depend upon the type and cost of the vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where should a vehicle be submitted after import?

One can submit the imported vehicle for testing at any of the following agencies:

a. Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (VRDE), Ministry of Defence, Ahmednagar
b. Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), Pune
c. Central Farm and Machinery Training and Testing Institute, (CFMTT) Budni, Madhya Pradesh

It is necessary for the imported vehicle to be tested in order to check its compliance with the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, Exim Policy, 2001, and Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

Can left-hand drive vehicles be imported to India?

It is possible to get a left-hand drive vehicle imported to India, however mostly a vehicle manufacturer has the permission to do so. The car should be used only for testing and research purposes.

What is the homologation of vehicles?

Homologation of vehicles is a process through which an authority certifies that a vehicle is fit for use and that it satisfies all the criteria set down for use.

How much does it cost to import a car to India?

The overall cost for importing a car to India will amount to 150 to 200% more than the cost of the car.

Can we import car engines to India?

Yes, car engines can be imported to India. It is easier to get a new engine imported as compared to a used one. Also, certain criteria including that the engine should be between a specific range should be fulfilled, else heavy penalties are imposed on the buyer.

Can an NRI import a car to India?

NRIs who have not resided in India for at least 2 years can import a car into the country. Depending upon the car being new or old, they may need to own it for at least 1 year before the import.

How can I import a vintage car to India?

Cars manufactured after January 1, 1950, can be imported as vintage cars to India. The process of importing these cars is similar to importing a recently-manufactured vehicle. However, remember that the import is allowed only for actual users.

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