How to Import Cars to India – Ultimate Guide

Mani Karthik

In my pursuit of getting better & smarter in life,
I share everything I learn, on this blog, so you can make use of it.

If you are looking to import cars to India, there are a few things you need to know. The process can be a bit complicated, but if you follow these steps you will be able to get your car into the country without any problems. India has a growing economy and is becoming a popular destination for tourists and ex-pats alike. With that said, here is a complete guide on how to import cars to India.

Why You Might Want to Import a Car to India

There are several reasons why you might want to import a car to India. You may not be able to find the exact model of the car you want in India, or it may be significantly cheaper to buy the car overseas. Additionally, if you are moving to India from another country, you may want to bring your current car with you.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

If you’re thinking of importing a car to India, there are a few things you need to know first.

For starters, you’ll need to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Heavy Industries. You’ll also need to have your car inspected and certified by the Automotive Research Association of India. In addition, you’ll need to pay import duties and taxes.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this complete guide.

Import Cars to India – Process

The process of importing a car to India generally involves the following steps:

1. Finding a reputable car dealer or importer

This is probably the most important step in the process, as it will determine the quality of the car you end up with. Do your research and make sure you find a reliable source.

2. Getting the necessary import approvals

In order to import a car into India, you will need to obtain several approvals from various government agencies. These include an import license from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, a pollution certificate from the Central Pollution Control Board, and a registration certificate from the Registrar of Companies.

3. Shipping the car to India

Once all the necessary approvals have been obtained, you can proceed with shipping the car to India. This can be done either by sea or by air, depending on your preference.

Read: Best shipping agencies from USA to India

4. Clearing customs

Once the car arrives in India, it will need to clear customs before it can be released for delivery. This involves paying any applicable import duties and taxes.

5. Taking delivery of the car

Once the car has cleared customs, it will be delivered to your specified address. Make sure to inspect it thoroughly before making the final payment.

Rules for importing new cars

A new vehicle can be considered for import only if it satisfies the following conditions :

  • Should follow all the rules and regulations mentioned in the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 in addition to the latest changes in rules as of date.
  • Neither manufactured nor assembled in India.
  • Should be manufactured only in the USA.
  • Not registered in any country other than the USA.
  • Not sold or leased prior to India.
  • The speedometer should be changed to km/hr instead of miles/hr.
  • Steering should be changed to right-handed from left-handed.
  • All controls in the car should be changed for right-handed drive.
  • In India, the rule is ‘Keep left. So the headlights of the car should be changed according to that.
  • Engine capacity should be less than 1600 cc

Also, the new vehicles can be imported only from the customs port at Calcutta, Mumbai, and Chennai.

Choosing a Car Import Agent in India

A car import agent is a person who helps people to import cars from other countries. He provides advice on the best way to import a car and helps to arrange the shipping and paperwork.

If you are planning to import a car from India, you will need to hire a car import agent. But, with so many options available in the market, choosing the right one can be quite a challenge. Here are some things that you should keep in mind while making your choice:

The agent should have a good reputation in the industry. You can check this by asking for references from friends or family members who have recently imported cars from India. You can also read online reviews to get an idea about the agent’s reputation.

The agent should be experienced in handling car imports. He should have a good understanding of the customs regulations and procedures. This will help him clear your car quickly and without any hassles.

The agent should offer competitive rates. Get quotes from different agents and compare them to get the best deal.

The agent should provide good customer service. He should be able to answer all your queries and doubts regarding the import process.

The agent should have a good network in India. This will help him get your car delivered to you quickly.

Make sure that you choose an agent who is registered with the Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations in India (FFFAI). This will ensure that he is licensed and qualified to handle car imports.

Which Vehicles Can Be Imported Into India?

The following vehicles can be imported into India:

  1. Passenger vehicles
  2. Motorcycles
  3. All-terrain vehicles
  4. Recreational vehicles
  5. Heavy trucks
  6. Buses

There are a few different specifications also that are needed for vehicles to be imported to India. Some of these specifications include having the correct type of engine, emissions requirements, and safety standards. Some of these include:

  • All vehicles must meet the emission standards set by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • All vehicles must have a valid Certificate of Conformity from the country of origin.
  • All vehicles must have a valid import permit from the Ministry of Heavy Industries.
  • All vehicles must meet the safety standards set by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • All vehicles must have a valid safety certificate from the Central Motor Vehicle Inspection and Testing Institute.

Rules for importing used cars in India

You cannot import a used car as it is banned by the government unless you are a citizen of India & returning back or transfer of residence.

The car should be more than 3 years old from the date of manufacture.

The vehicle can be imported only from the customs port in Mumbai.

The main drawback of importing a used car is that you cannot sell the car for 2 years from the date of import.

But some people are still selling the cars unofficially without changing the documents to 2 years are completed.

Also read: How to import products from China to India

Exceptions for import rules in India

You don’t have to follow the rules above if you or the car fall under the categories below:

  • Returning to India permanently after staying 2 years in the USA and you have the car for the past 1 year.
  • Given as a gift in an event or competition ( Eg. Cricketers were awarded cars for winning matches)
  • Physically handicapped people
  • Offices or Branches for the US companies in India
  • Charity Institutions
  • The legal heir of a person who has died
  • Indian companies with US collaboration

Check out the latest information on rules regarding importing cars to India can be found on the following sites. CBEC and Department of Heavy Industry.

Also read: How to import gold to India

How to Ship Your Car to India

If you own a car that you need to ship to India, there are a few things you need to do to prepare your vehicle for the trip. The most important thing is to make sure that your car is in good working order before it is shipped. You should also have your car serviced and have the oil changed.

It is also a good idea to have your car detailed before it is shipped. This will help to protect your car from any damage that may occur during the shipping process.

When you are ready to ship your car to India, you will need to find a reputable shipping company. There are many shipping companies that offer services to ship cars to India. You can find these companies online or on the yellow pages.

Once you have found a shipping company, you will need to provide them with some basic information about your car. This includes the make, model, and year of your car. You will also need to provide the shipping company with your contact information.

Once you have provided the shipping company with this information, they will give you a quote for the shipping costs. The shipping company will also provide you with a contract that you will need to sign. This contract will outline the terms and conditions of the shipping agreement.

Once you have signed the contract, the shipping company will take your car to the port where it will be shipped to India. The shipping company will also provide you with a tracking number so that you can follow the progress of your car as it makes its way to India.

  1. Make sure that the car is properly insured for shipping.
  2. Make sure that all the personal belongings are removed from the car.
  3. Make sure that the car is in good working condition before shipping.
  4. Make sure to inform the shipping company about any special instructions regarding the car.
  5. Make sure to track the car during shipping.
  6. Make sure to arrange the shipping and paperwork.

The Customs Process for Importing a Car Into India

The customs process for importing a car into India is relatively simple. First, the car must be registered with the Indian Customs and Excise Department. Next, the car must be inspected by a licensed customs broker. Finally, the car must be cleared by customs and excise officials.

Customs duty for imported cars in India

It is applicable for both new and used cars. It is so high that you can buy a car for that price in India. For most cars, it will come to 50-75% of the original cost of the vehicle and the customs duty for luxury cars are more than for normal cars. The customs duty for a used car is calculated based on the Cost of the car, Form Insurance, and Freight value for getting the car. The calculation also involves the depreciation of the car depending on its age.

The Duty calculator website helps you to find the approximate custom duty for the car.

Read: Cost of importing a car to India

Get a customs broker

Is your head spinning fast on reading the above rules and regulations to import a car? Then the best way is to get a legal and good customs broker located at the port of arrival of the car so that the paper works will move faster. You have to be very careful in choosing the brokers because there are many illegal ones rounding everywhere and you may lose in the middle of the way.

Do you really need to import the car? Personally, I feel importing the car to India after making all the modifications is a waste as you will lose the original image of the car. Also, the quality of Indian roads is so worse and you won’t enjoy the feel of your car in the same way as it was in the US.

More details here – Chennai Customs Official Website – Details about Importing of Cars to India

Duty structure for importing a car to India

The customs duty structure for importing a car to India is as follows:

  • Basic Customs Duty: 20%
  • Countervailing Duty: 12%
  • Additional Customs Duty: 4%
  • Total Customs Duty: 36%

How to clear customs when importing a car to India

In order to clear customs when importing a car to India, you will need to provide the following documents:

– Bill of lading
– Commercial invoice
– Certificate of origin
– Packing list
– Insurance policy

You will also need to pay import duty and VAT on the value of the car.

Registering Your Imported Car in India

After you have imported your car from Europe, Japan, or any other country, you will have to register it with the Transport Authority in India. The process of registering imported cars in India has a set of guidelines that must be followed by the importer.

The following are the steps for registering imported cars in India:

  1. The importer must file an application with the Transport Authority within 30 days of importing the car.
    The application must be accompanied by the Bill of Entry and Bill of Lading or Airway Bill or Form R-23, whichever is applicable.
  2. The applicant must also submit a duly filled Form CMV 20 along with the application form.
  3. The applicant must also submit a valid certificate of roadworthiness issued by a competent authority in the country of export.
  4. The applicant must also submit a valid insurance policy.
  5. The applicant must also submit a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the concerned Regional Transport Office (RTO).
  6. The applicant must also submit valid pollution under control certificate.
  7. The applicant must also submit the registration fee as prescribed by the Transport Authority.
  8. Once the application is filed, the Transport Authority will issue a Letter of Authorization (LOA) to the applicant.

The applicant must submit the following documents along with the application form:

  1. A Bill of Entry and Bill of Lading or Airway Bill or Form R-23, whichever is applicable.
  2. A valid certificate of roadworthiness issued by a competent authority in the country of export.
  3. A valid insurance policy.
  4. A No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the concerned Regional Transport Office (RTO).
  5. Valid pollution under control certificate.
  6. The registration fee is prescribed by the Transport Authority.
  7. Once the application is filed, the Transport Authority will issue a Letter of Authorization (LOA) to the applicant.

Driving Your Imported car in India

Driving a car on Indian roads is not a tough task. But, the problem arises when you want to drive an imported car in India.

As per the current laws, only people with a special permit can drive an imported car in India. The permit needs to be obtained from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH). So, if you want to drive your imported car in India, you will have to obtain a permit from MoRTH.

You can either import your car from a foreign country or buy it from an authorized dealer in India. If you are importing your car from a foreign country, you will need to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI). The permit is necessary to ensure that your car meets all the safety and emission standards set by the government.

Once you have obtained the permit, you can start driving your imported car in India. However, there are certain restrictions that you need to follow while driving your car. For instance, you cannot drive your car on highways and expressways. You can only drive your car on city roads and in rural areas.

In addition, you need to get your car registered with the RTO in your state.

Documents required for importing a car to India

The documents required for importing a car to India include a bill of lading, commercial invoice, import license, and certificate of registration.

Tips for importing a car to India

There are a few things to keep in mind when importing a car to India:

  • Make sure that the car you are importing is eligible for import into India. Check with the Indian government’s website for a list of eligible vehicles.
  • Make sure that you have all the required documents in order, including a bill of lading, registration certificate, and insurance policy.
  • Make sure that you are familiar with the import duty and taxes that will be levied on your car.
  • Make sure that you have a good understanding of the Indian car market and the type of car that would be best suited for your needs.

I wish you the best of luck if you’re looking to import cars to India. Be sure to do your research and stay safe!

26 Comments on “How to Import Cars to India – Ultimate Guide”

  1. Hi Karthik,
    Its wonderful to read your blogs… and not to forget the invaluable information that you dispense. I have a situation of my own – I’ve been in London for a little over 2 years and returning back to Bangalore in Apr 2021 (Hold an Indian passport). I currently drive a BMW 520D in London and keen to get this shipped. Whilst my company has agreed to ship it and also bear the freight, insurance charges, I will still need to pay customs duty and road tax/ local number registration, etc. It is a 2015 model car, which I bought in 2019 for GBP 15,500.

    Would you be able to suggest what the probable 1) Customs Duty, 2) Road Tax would be pls. Also, any contacts/ suggestions that you have who can help in clearing. My company has engaged Crown Relocation to help me with the move, but they have been of limited help.

    Your insights/ response would be much appreciated… thanks Sandeep

  2. Hi Karthik:

    I’m checking the feasibility and cost transferring Toyota Camry 2015 model to Chennai as i’m planning to return for good. Please guide me on this.

  3. HI karthik,

    Do you have any office to discuss all these details or know any agency to help me in this. I would like to know exact charges or amount if i’m importing any used car. can you please help me out?

  4. Hi karthik. I am Pravin from Sydney . Australia. I need some help regarding exporting cars to India (Coimbatore for business purpose)
    Can you pls guide me .

  5. Hi , I have a friend in USA , and planning to get a GMC here in India for my self problem is all that rumours you can get this that , and all , can you suggest some company who can act as agent and help with all formalities

  6. Hi Satya,

    Your best bet is to go through a shipping/import agency if you are looking for ball park estimates. The customs of course has it’s data up on the website but it’s very vague.

  7. Mani, First up, I really appreciate your time. I am an US citizen of indian origin , moving back to hyderabad due to job. Thinking of my bringing my own ford SUV. How can i get a cost estimate? do’s and do not’s as well ; This vehicle will be for my personal family use.

    Thanks in advance

  8. Hi Gojen, I am on the same boat as you were. I am trying to get my 2015 Mustang imported to India from USA, as I am moving back to India permanently. Were you able to import your car , if yes what was the process you had to go through? Would greatly appreciate if you can share your experience. Thank You!

  9. The Enginecapacity of the car you want to import should be below 1600cc? That basically removes all super/hyper cars. What good is this then.

  10. My name is Srinivasa Gupta.G, iam trying to import a 2005 Mazda Rx8,what are rules to import the car,is there a rule only a car max can three year old can be imported inside India, can a 2005 model car be imported pls help, looking forward for a helpful reply

  11. Hey Karthik, do you know about import duties on Ckd cars being imported to India? There is a lack of proper source for such information online. Many websites claim that a Ckd version has only 7% duty, which should allow for import of great cars, provided you have some way to assemble it here.

  12. Hi Karthik

    When you say “help from someone local”, what exactly do they need to do? Also are dual speedometers, that show both mph and kph, allowed?

  13. Yup that is right, if it’s a used card (your personal one) then there are exemptions. Details are mentioned above and the link to the gov site has more info on it. All the best!

  14. Yes Shabaz, From what I know, there are restrictions from importing cars (or parts of it) that will be assembled in India. You have to import the car by itself and pay the customs duty on it.

  15. Hi Snehith,

    I believe you can but you need some help from someone local. These days, most car companies are offering online purchases, which is a good thing. Like the new Model X from Tesla or the new Land Rover. But in order to import, you need to get help from the company itself and have it shipped. In your case, what I would suggest is to contact Audi India, because there are some exemptions for importing cars that have US collaboration. Audi is one, so you should explore that way. You don’t have to go to USA for it.

  16. Hi Karthik… I am planning to ship mustang 69 model. wondering if you could guide me for importing car itself or its parts so that i can assemble it India, but above article states that it should not be assembled in here can i get some clarifications on that?

  17. HI I am planning to ship my 2010 mustang back to India. I am returning to India probably 2017 ka january permanently but it’s left hand drive but you mentioned the rules don’t really apply if I am returning to india permanently and if I have owned and driven the car more than a year in the US. So can you please help me with the process.

  18. Hi..Am looking to importing the Cadillac ct6 from the US . To India.. wondering if you could guide me properly

  19. Hi Maalik,

    You can definitely import any car legally paying the custom fees (which amounts to sometimes triple times the actual cost). But a bigger problem is that if you import the Model X, you are taking a big risk, because there aren’t any charging stations yet in India. A better way would be to book the Model X for India and when the company launches in India (which they have confirmed) you can get the delivery. Many people who booked the Model X 5 months back to India (paying $1000) has gotten confirmations from the company on the launch. I’ve written about it here > https://manikarthik.com/tesla-india/

  20. Hi Mani.. Greetings of the day!! Wish to understand the procedure for importing Tesla Model X in Mumbai.
    Firstly, does the Indian Government permit to import this car and if yes, please guide me with rules & regulations for the same.

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