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I’m hoping someone can point me in a direction that will help me resolve an issue I’m having with an Alfa I purchased. The car was purchased state side, and I’m starting to realize the extents of my naivety for imported classics. The car was purchased from a supposed dealer/importer, and came with an Italian Title and what was supposed to be customs paperwork. After unsuccessfully registering the car, I’m beginning to realize that I should not have purchased a car that was not titled in the US, and the import paperwork is most likely bogus. I’m trying to seek legal advice on how to resolve this issue, but being a novice to this, I’m not able to figure out what type of lawyer deals with these types of issues (google searches keep landing me on lawyers that help large corporations and countries navigate import regulations). Does anyone have any advice they can pass along?
 

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What year is this Alfa? It is a very important factor. Older cars are exempted from compliance to smog and safety regulations.

And what state are you in?
 

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Hi Yves. The title states 1970, though it seems to be a 1968 model (from my limited research on the VIN and other cues). I’m in the District of Columbia.
 

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What is the full model name and/or type, and serial number? There might be a tag somewhere that gives model number.

Either way, you're well past 25 years old, so that part won't be a problem

Actual bogus import paperwork would be a federal crime. Paperwork that doesn't make your local DMV happy is an entirely different problem.

We like pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Don. I guess to clarify, I’m looking for a lawyer (or the law specialty) that can help me make sense of the paperwork I have and advise how best to proceed.
 

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Maybe you need a customs broker, who if needed will lead you to a lawyer.

ken
 

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What troubles you about the paperwork and how has the seller responded to your inquiries? It is certainly possible that a car built in 68 was not registered until 1970, if that is your principle concern.
 

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Don't know if it helps but from I know :

In Italy, when a car is sold for export, the seller must carry out the "radiation" The word Radiation means that the seller must take the documents and number plates to the PRA (Pubblico Registro Automobilistico) to declare, thanks to a deed sale and transfer, that the vehicle has been sold to a foreign customer for export.

The P.R.A therefore applies an adhesive label on the title (libretto di circolazione) with the final destination, in your case USA, then destroys the license plates.

The Italian seller had to issue a certificate of assignment, or invoice in case, to the US buyer. You should have these documents + the invoice in your name for your purchase.

If not, mayvbe you can contact the past Italian owner ?

Good luck.
 

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I’m trying to seek legal advice on how to resolve this issue, but being a novice to this, I’m not able to figure out what type of lawyer deals with these types of issues
There is a monthly column in "Sports Car Market" magazine written by John Draneas, an attorney who specializes in automotive-related issues. At the end of each column it says "John may be contacted at [email protected]". You could do worse than reaching out to him and seeing what he advises.
 

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Maybe you need a customs broker, who if needed will lead you to a lawyer.

ken
I agree here, it sounds like you just need to find a local company that specializes in car registrations. Is there AAA where you are? They might have a registries department if you are a member, or be able to point you to a local outfit.
 

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What is specifically preventing you from registering the car? Do you have the US Customs and EPA paperwork? If not, I'm sure it would be on file with them. That paperwork is what you need for most states, since it declares the car ws legally imported and can be registered. The satisfies the Fed requirement. After that, it's state-by-state requirements. Did the seller do the actual importation? Generally, I don't think it's an easy thing for a car to be illegally imported (there were cases of pieces of a car sent over and then reassembled in the US though).

If the car was indeed illegally imported, careful how you proceed. I believe US Customs can seize and crush the vehicle if they find out. If you get legal on this thing, it could escalate in a hurry with unintended results.

If you are able to correspond with the last owner in Italy, then I would think that gets you on better footing to help your own cause. It will be a lot cheaper to fly to Italy and meet the prior owner than engaging in litigation. More fun too....especially if the car was stolen or something like that. :oops:

Also, I think I read somewhere that some people registered their vehicles under lost title status, but you would have to get a bond for a certain amount of time before title is cleared. Not certain, just working from an imperfect memory. Don't know if that is the case in every state. Maybe look at registering out-of-state in a friendly jurisdiction. South Dakota comes to mind. I think Delaware too? And Montana?
 

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No customs Paperwork whatsoever ?? If that car came in Legally Customs should have copies of the original docs. If the car came in illegally it will be quite difficult to title. There are Certain States with Less hurdles when it comes to their DMV restrictions/rules. If you have a buddy that owns a shop they can try to put a mechanics lien application in and see if that works.
 

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I am not so sure anymore. I heard otherwise about 6 months ago that other states were getting wise to this.
 

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My friend who lives in NJ just registered her car in Vermont with out even a title. She got temp plates and a new title sent to her. Give it a try.
 

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The short answer is ALWAYS ask the people who control your destiny what THEY require to register the car in YOUR jurisdiction.. If they fail to register the car, they should tell you what is required to do so. Forget about advice from the other 49 states (or 50 in your case, I do read). If you are not satisfied with the answers they give you , then take it up with the law enforcement in DC ..in states it is the Highway Patrol.
 

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The short answer is ALWAYS ask the people who control your destiny what THEY require to register the car in YOUR jurisdiction.. If they fail to register the car, they should tell you what is required to do so. Forget about advice from the other 49 states (or 50 in your case, I do read). If you are not satisfied with the answers they give you , then take it up with the law enforcement in DC ..in states it is the Highway Patrol.
Friendly counterpoint. Sometimes neither the agency in your jurisdiction nor the Highway patrol can help you get what you need done. Hence, you need to find another way. Case in point: you have a vehicle you want to register and title and your jurisdiction requires a title to register a vehicle, but you do not have a title and you can not get a title. So what is the work around? Go to another state that is easier to register and get a title. That state might just require a Bill of Sale. Then, once you have the title in one state, you can go back to your own state and register it and get it titled there. You have legal rights in all 50 states, no need to restrict yourself to just one. You can either control your destiny or let an agency control it. Your choice.
 
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