How to Import Cars to India – Process & Checklist

Importing cars from the USA to India is a hectic job that involves a lot of rules and regulations and high custom duty. It will take more time for the process to finish, if not handled properly. You can import either a new car or a used one and the rules are different for both.

India has a good market for the newly imported cars as many rich people would like to buy the car for maintaining their status symbol.

Rules for importing new cars

A new vehicle can be considered for import only 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 on 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 leases 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 the 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.

Related: Top India Calling Cards

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. Points 1 to 9 above are applicable for used cars and there is no restriction on the engine capacity for used cars.In addition to 9 points, the below applies to a used car.

MK India Reading

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

Here the vehicle can be imported only from the customs port at 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.

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

– 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 in the following sites. CBEC and Department of Heavy Industry

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 depreciation of the car depending on its age.

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

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 when it was in the US.

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

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Mani Karthik

In my pursuit of happiness, I share everything I've learned, on this blog. From productivity to spirituality and everything in between. I quit my cozy job in the USA to pursue my passion - blogging. Today, I make five times what my US job paid. More than the money, I love the freedom it gives me to make my own choices. Come join me. Start blogging! :) WhatsApp : +0014084894785


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  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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 .

  • 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

    • 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.

      • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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?

  • 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?

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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!

  • 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.

    • 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 >

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