Last week, I attended a seminar hosted by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) at the Miami Free Zone regarding exportation of used vehicles such as cars and automobiles. Here are the highlights:

CBP’s ’72-Hour Rule’

CBP regulations require the exporter of a vehicle to submit all export documents to the port of entry from which the vehicle will be exported at least 72 hours prior to export. Documentation for U.S.-titled vehicles include an original certificate of title. For used, self-propelled vehicles a current Certificate of Title or a Salvage Title issued by any jurisdiction in the United States is required.

What if the car has ‘Foreign Title’?

For vehicles that are registered or titled abroad, the owner must provide to CBP the original document that provides satisfactory proof of ownership (with an English translation of the text if the original language is not in English), and two complete copies of that document (and translation, if necessary). Important Note: Failure to have translated copies on hand will result in CBP delaying your importation.

What if it’s a ‘Junk’ car?

Junk Cars mean vehicles not to be sold as a whole. Junk cars require salvage title or a certificate of destruction. Destruction documentation is provided on the state level. Note: Certificates of destruction can only be reassigned twice in the State of Florida.

What if there is a ‘Lien’?

If the car has an issue with title, like a lien, the interested third-party (lien holder’s) must provide a letter of authorization. The letter may be either signed or a stamp is acceptable. Note: You cannot import or export an automobile with a lien without this documentation.


CBP Emphasized the following: To import a vehicle under 19 C.F.R. §192, the vehicle must be:

  1. Used;
  2. Self Propelled; and
  3. Sold to someone other than a dealer. 

What qualifies as ‘Used’?

Used” refers to “any self-propelled vehicle the equitable or legal title to which has been transferred by a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer to an ultimate purchaser”. Note: Do not use the phrase ‘dealer to dealer’ when communicating with CBP because once a vehicle is classified as used once, CBP will never define it as ‘new’ again.

But what IS a ‘Self-Propelled’ vehicle’?

Self-propelled includes any automobile, truck, tractor, bus, motor home, self-propelled agricultural machinery, self-propelled construction equipment, self-propelled special use equipment, and any other self-propelled vehicle used or designed for running on land but not on rail. Snowmobiles, ATV’s, and motorcycles are also vehicles under CBP regulations.

What is NOT a ‘Self-Propelled’ vehicle?

Jet skis and boats fall under ‘watercraft’, and are not required to be presented as used vehicles under 19 CFR § 192. CBP does not consider trailers vehicles because they are not self-propelled. Trailers must be attached to a self-propelled vehicle to qualify. Trains are not considered vehicles, either.

What does “Someone Other Than a Dealer” mean?

A ‘dealer’ is defined at the state level in state laws. The ultimate purchaser cannot be a dealer. “Ultimate purchaser” means the first person, other than a dealer purchasing in his capacity as a dealer, who in good faith purchases a self-propelled vehicle for purposes other than resale. The thing to remember here is the ultimate purchaser cannot be a dealer. Note: A dealer cannot reassign title to itself. Further, Non-dealers cannot reassign Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO). If you are a dealer, you can reassign the same MSO over and over again and it is okay. More information on CBP’s vehicle importing regulations can be found here.

For more information regarding the requirements for exporting used vehicles and solutions to CBP compliance issues, contact attorney Jennifer Diaz at (305) 260-1053 or

Jennifer Diaz is the Chair of the Customs and International Trade Department at Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. She earned her J.D. from Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center. Jennifer is admitted to practice law in the state of Florida and is board-certified in International Law by the Florida Bar.