Grey Market Vehicle Imports

What is a grey market vehicle?

According to Wikipedia - 

Grey import vehicles are new or used motor vehicles and motorcycles legally imported from another country through channels other than the maker's official distribution system. The synonymous term parallel import is sometimes substituted.[1][2]

Car makers frequently arbitrage markets, setting the price according to local market conditions so the same vehicle will have different real prices in different territories. Grey import vehicles circumvent this profit-maximization strategy. Car makers and local distributors sometimes regard grey imports as a threat to their network of franchised dealerships, but independent distributors do not since more cars of an odd brand bring in money from service and spare parts.[citation needed]

In order for the arbitrage to work, there must be some means to reduce, eliminate, or reverse whatever savings could be achieved by purchasing the car in the lower-priced territory. Examples of such barriers include regulations preventing import or requiring costly vehicle modifications. In some countries, such as Vietnam, the import of grey-market vehicles has largely been banned.[3]

 Up until 1988 the grey market was successful enough in the US that it ate significantly into the business of Mercedes-Benz of North America and their dealers.[19][27] The corporation launched a successful multi-million-dollar congressional lobbying effort to stop private importation of vehicles not officially intended for the U.S. market.[28][29] An organisation called AICA (Automotive Importers Compliance Association) was formed by importers in California, Florida, New York, Texas, and elsewhere to counter some of these actions by Mercedes lobbyists, but the Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Act was passed in 1988, effectively ending private import of grey-market vehicles to the United States.[28][24][27][20] There have been allegations of improper lobbying, but the issue has never been raised in court.

As a result of being practically banned,[24] the grey market declined from 66,900 vehicles in 1985[30] to 300 vehicles in 1995.[31] It is no longer possible to import a non-U.S. vehicle into the United States as a personal import, with four exceptions, none of which permits Americans to buy recent vehicles not officially available in the United States.

What we have now is the rolling 25 year rule.  If the vehicle you've had your eye on to import is 25 years or older (based on the Model year) which CBP will verify from the VIN.  You're more than likely ok to import it.

Once you have found the vehicle, the next question to ask is how much do you want to spend on shipping it?  Do you want it in a container or are you good with Roll on Roll off.

Containers cost more and can take longer getting from point A to point B.  Why? well a lot more is involved.  A container has to prepped and delivered.  The vehicle has to be safely secured inside.  It then has to be transported to the port and await being lifted on to the ship.  The same process takes place when it arrives at the destination.  

Upon arrival at the destination port,  The port will not just let you show up and unload the container.  You must have it picked-up and transported to an unloading dock or hire a Tow truck company to meet you somewhere to unload the vehicle from the container.  That being said, some folks still choose to go the container route.  Thus the cost stark difference in cost.

Roll on Roll off (RoRo).  Just as it says.  The shipping line will drive your vehicle on to the Ship and drive it off once it reaches the destination port. That means the vehicle needs to run on its own power 😀 If the battery is dead or dying, the port will usually have a jump pack to help start it.

We once put two Land Rover Defender 130's into a container, one ran the other did not.  (so the container made sense at the time) We'll likely never go the container route again, the cost just doesn't make sense.  But time will tell.