I'm here in Seattle, and at auction there are tons of Canadian cars being sold by CrossBorders, and other companies.
I've seen that prices are pretty good up there, but have no idea what type of paperwork is involved paperwork wise and fees. Another thing I was interested in was maybe importing a unique vehicle that is not sold here (usually impossible due to safety standards), but only for myself to drive running a dealer plate as a demo unit. Would love to get a newer Suzuki Jimny for myself!
If anyone has done these before, any advice or input would be much appreciated!
I import cars and it's sort of cumbersome so I don't rely on it for income, it's just a side thing to bring some fun cars over and make a few bucks, namely Nissan Skylines and the like. A new Jimny will not be possible but I'll try to break down the process of importing eligible vehicles. First you have to buy the vehicle obviously, you'll have to facilitate shipping or run across the border yourself. You'll need to get a customs broker to file the paperwork, which must be filed with Homeland Security and US customs 48 hours prior to the vehicle arriving at the port of entry, where you'll have to pay duty and other various fees as well as the fee due to the broker to facilitate the importation. Now you have the vehicle and you'll want to get it US titled before you try to sell it so there aren't any issues with titling after the sale. You'll have to turn in the foreign title or export certificate along with a translation (if it's in a different language) as well as some customs forms which should be completed by your customs broker. Keep in mind some states require these to be stamped official which conveniently is almost always at a separate building, if it is not stamped and your state requires is the vehicle will have to be brought back to the port of entry and re-inspected for legality. Finally you have a foreign vehicle ready to sell.
Now to crush your dreams. No vehicle may be imported for street use unless it conforms to US safety standards, which means most vehicles cannot be imported unless you buy 10-20 of them, give them to the government and let them crash test and take them apart on your dime to see if it is safe enough. Anything right hand drive will automatically be rejected because it is viewed as a safety hazard, there are exceptions to this, but very few and generally only available to registered importers. Becoming a registered importer is very cost prohibitive unless you plan to make it your whole business. The NHTSA does exempt vehicles 25 years and older so as long as the vehicle you want is 25 years old (to the month) you can bring over whatever you want so you can still get an old Jimny but it will probably have to come from Japan which will probably end up running you $6-9k by the time it's at your lot so it most likely wouldn't be a money maker. If I rambled or didn't make any sense let me know if you want anything clarified.