Importing a car from Europe to California via Oregon - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums

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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-02-2016, 12:18 AM Thread Starter
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Importing a car from Europe to California via Oregon

I recently imported a vintage Lancia from The Netherlands to California. Like many, I started with zero knowledge on how to do this beforehand, but did my homework and have had a very satisfactory experience so far. I can offer some advice on the initial shipping, and strategies for avoiding CA (and other state) sales tax. I'm about halfway through with the plan- the car has cleared US customs and I just obtained a temporary permit from Oregon. This purchase posed some potential challenges as foreign documents show it (incorrectly) as 1968 model (it's a 1964), and I'm not an Oregon resident (more later). Why register it in Oregon? Depending on the county you live in, CA will charge you up to 9.25% of the purchase price of the car to register it in state. That may be an insignificant or significant sum, depending on the price of the car. You may decide (like I did) that I'd like to avoid forking that over to the state of California, and there are ways to do that legally. On to the shipping..

Phil
'62 Giulietta Sprint Normale

Last edited by phila3885; 06-02-2016 at 10:17 AM.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-02-2016, 01:42 AM Thread Starter
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Buying and importing a car from Europe

Points to consider:
-#1 advice- hire an experienced shipping agent/customs broker in the US- they can help you navigate all the following:
-Importing a car younger than 25 years old is illegal, unless it was specifically manufactured for the US market. Don't try it.
-1968 cars and later "may" have to meet basic EPA emission standards. (my car was not subject to any additional scrutiny on this account even though it was titled as a 1968).
-How are you going to pay for a car in Europe? Are you going to wire funds to a complete stranger? Don't expect to use a credit card for any portion of the purchase or shipping-wire only or cash. I felt comfortable wiring money because I met the seller and he was an established dealer. Some shipping agents offer overseas escrow services (for $$) if needed.
-What exchange rate on Euros are you going to get? You will NOT get the spot inter-bank Euro conversion rate you see on Google. You can expect to pay another 2 1/2%-5% for the car just for the retail conversion rate. The best rate was actually using my local banks' international rate-yes you can get a slightly better deal using a currency service, but a time-drain. Also, watch the daily Euro/Dollar rate fluctuations, they can add to (or subtract from) the price of your car at an alarming rate.
-You can use one of the blue-chip brokers in the US to arrange shipping and you will get blue-chip service and pay a blue-chip price. I used a shipper recommended by the seller (Marlog) and their US customs broker (CFR Rinkens). I was extremely satisfied with the price and services. Use a shipper that specializes in classic car shipping (ask).
- 2 types of car shipping-RORO roll-on, roll-off (think car ferry) and enclosed container (more expensive). Ask the shipper which way is faster, if it matters. I got a fantastic deal sharing a container with three other cars- total for the ocean voyage $1600 US from Rotterdam to Los Angeles. About 30 days. You can track the progress of the ship just like a Fedex package.
-Insurance. The shipper does not carry insurance for acts of nature or accidents during transportation. Hagerty and others do. The shipper can also recommend a 3rd party insurer. Expect to pay about $500 per $100,000 value. Covers voyage and warehousing on both ends too.
-You don't have to use a US customs broker, you can do all the paperwork yourself, but they will make sure you don't make a mistake and you don't have to be there when the car arrives.
-Roughly, total customs fees and bonds can run about $1500 plus a flat US duty of 2.5% of the value of the car. My container was selected for random x-ray screening for an additional cost (to me!) of $75. Using a broker could add a $1000 or more to that total for their services. Again, rough estimates.
-A word about values. You are expected (for customs duty and state DMV purposes) to put down the price you paid for the car, supported by a bill of sale, and that's what I recommend you should do. The actual customs documents ask you to state the value of the merchandise. I think if you can point to a nationally recognized car valuation service (like Hagerty's) and your purchase price falls within their current valuations, you should be safe. You may find trouble if you value falls outside that range (my opinion only).
Coming next: Part 2, How to avoid California sales tax legally on an imported car.

Phil
'62 Giulietta Sprint Normale

Last edited by phila3885; 06-02-2016 at 10:23 AM.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-21-2016, 10:16 AM
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I have also used CFR Rinkens to ship cars from Germany to USA, and I have found great success. The shippers set everything up for me, and the process went smooth as apple pie. Although I did have to pay a little more than what was quoted, they said that the cost vary from shipment to shipment so it wasn't too much extra. The my Jaguar came back flawless, as I was told this was the best company to ship classic cars, and to my expectations, I was extremely satisfied with my car shipment. I would highly recommend CFR Rinkens for anyone looking to ship their car or vehicle. Here is the URL:-- https://www.cfrrinkens.com/services/...-car-shipping/
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-26-2016, 11:56 AM
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I'm certainly curious to hear about how you avoid (legally, hopefully) paying CA sales tax.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 12:15 AM
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I am too interested in hearing the same as MonsterJ.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 10:22 AM
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Hint....

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonsterJ View Post
I'm certainly curious to hear about how you avoid (legally, hopefully) paying CA sales tax.
you don't do it on an open forum. Ca is hungry for $$$ !
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 12:11 AM
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-23-2016, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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It's been awhile, but I wanted to make sure I had the most current and correct info before updating this thread. Everything here is strictly above-board. CA requires you to pay sales tax (use tax) on any vehicle you (as a CA resident) register in state, unless it was paid in another state. It used to be possible to avoid this tax if it was registered in another state that doesn't charge sale tax i.e. OR, and you waited 90 days after purchase to register the car in CA, but that last was in effect, apparently in 2008. Currently, the requirement is 12 mo. out of state before you can register it in CA with no sales tax. To be precise, 12 months from the purchase date, and first functional use (interpret this as 1st registration) is out of state. I have successfully registered/titled my car in OR and I travel there frequently and have about 8 mo left to the 12 mo. point. Your purchase price will determine if the savings is worth the hassle. The only requirement to register a car in OR is that the car is physically housed in OR. The other strategy is to become a registered car dealer/broker, and then you can legally operate a vehicle without registering it in CA, but that comes with a different set of hassles. There are other limited exemptions to the sales tax (see CA Tax regulations), the most common is active-duty military.

Phil
'62 Giulietta Sprint Normale
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-01-2016, 03:02 AM
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So technically you have to have storage in Oregon. Doesn't that present a set of issues? Seems like two sets of books would help the process along but you still would be on the hook for some tax.. If this is the way to go in CA, wouldn't the car storage business be the place to be in Oregon? Just musing. I don't think I could send my car to prison for a year after forking over.the sale price.

Last edited by divotandtralee; 09-01-2016 at 03:05 AM.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-01-2016, 08:46 AM
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Sadly, this type of thinking is all too common with Alfa owners.....

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-01-2016, 04:37 PM
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Sad indeed (
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-02-2016, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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I'm in no way advocating this strategy to anyone else. You make your own decision. But it has been a topic of discussion in other forums. For what it's worth, I travel frequently to Oregon and it is convenient for me. It may not be for you.

Phil
'62 Giulietta Sprint Normale
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-04-2016, 09:00 AM
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As a resident of Oregon I am pretty sure you must have a current residence in Oregon to get a vehicle registered in the state. There are surely ways to avoid this such as a vacation home or use a business or friends address. There used to be a RV business that advertised nationally to sell RV's with no sales tax. They used their address or that of an employee until the required amount of time had elapsed. They are no longer in business. As stated this is risky and may not be for everyone. It would be a shame to stand by while your vehicle is seized. Agreed, it not a good idea to use a forum to boast of your activities. The benefits of not having a sales tax in Oregon are far outweighed by our personal state income tax.

Cheers, Jon

Present:
1967 Spider
1974 GTV (1969 Tribute)
1967 Spider (project)
Past:
1964 Giulia Sprint. 1966 Giulietta 101 Sprint
1967 Super 1968 GTV 1974 Berlina
1979 Alfetta Mille Miglia 1987 Milano
Non Alfa:
1953 MGTD 1958 TR3 1962 AH 3000 MKII
1969 AMX
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