Dear Port Director Perteet:
This is in response to our collaboration regarding what was declared as a 1988 Austin Mini vehicle with VIN SAXXL2S1020392163 that was presented for importation at Port Hueneme, California under Customs Entry No. 9TN-10259505. You provided NHTSA with a series of photographs and information from inspections that were conducted on the vehicle. You asked whether the subject vehicle may be lawfully imported into the United States under the statutes and regulations administered by NHTSA.
By way of background, NHTSA is the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation that is responsible for improving safety on our Nation’s highways. To achieve this goal, NHTSA develops and enforces the Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS), which require minimum levels of safety performance for motor vehicles and equipment. As part of our enforcement program, we monitor vehicles being imported into the United States to ensure that they comply with all applicable FMVSS.
On October 31, 1988, Congress enacted the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988, as amended, 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301. Under 49 U.S.C. § 30112(a)(1), a person may not permanently import into the United States a motor vehicle manufactured after the date that an applicable FMVSS takes effect unless the vehicle complies with the standard and is so certified by its original manufacturer. This prohibition applies to both new and used motor vehicles, but does not apply to motor vehicles that are at least 25 years old (based on the date that the vehicle was manufactured). This is because vehicles at least 25 years old are exempt from the need to comply with the FMVSS under 49 U.S.C. § 30112(b)(9).
The importer declared the 1988 Austin Mini vehicle as being eligible for importation under Section 30112(b)(9). Based on photographs of the vehicle and your report, we have reason to believe that the subject vehicle is ineligible for this exemption. These findings are amplified below:
· The subject vehicle’s body floor boards were cut to shorten the vehicle resulting in a 50-inch wheelbase in contrast to a 78 5/32-inch wheelbase as originally manufactured. The vehicle’s overall length has been shortened to 7 feet, 5 inches from 10 feet, ¼ inch.
· The vehicle was manufactured as a 2-door sedan. The subject vehicle has been remanufactured to such an extent that it has no doors.
Assuming that the vehicle presented for importation was manufactured in 1988, it has been remanufactured to such an extent that it is no longer regarded by NHTSA as a relatively original vehicle at least 25 years old. The agency has stated that if remanufacturing involves sufficient manufacturing operations and new parts, the vehicle may be considered newly manufactured. This means that the subject vehicle would be required to meet all applicable FMVSS in effect at the time of remanufacture and to be certified as conforming to those FMVSS. The remanufactured vehicle is considered to be a “new” motor vehicle rendering it ineligible for importation under Section 30112(b)(9).
In conclusion, the subject vehicle is ineligible for importation under Section 30112(b)(9) and I recommend that you deny entry. NHTSA will reconsider our recommendation to deny entry if the importer provides evidence that the vehicle remanufacturing operations were completed at least 25 years ago.
This was the response from NHTSA so beware when importing a car.