Importing Cars into India by NRIs

Importing Cars into India by NRIs

If you are an NRI moving to India for the long term, you may bring your vehicle along with other household items. The Indian government imposes strict regulations for importing vehicles from foreign lands to India. These could be non-commercial cars, motorcycles, scooters, etc. The rules vary slightly for new and old vehicles. One piece of advice: Since importing non-commercial vehicles into India is an expensive affair, consider it only if you are enthusiastic about it.

Various Options of Importing Cars

There are different options based on the newness of your vehicle. Also, if you are an NRI relocating back to India, you have the option of calling it a “transfer of residence”.

Remember, the government of India has banned some vehicles. New cars with engine capacities between 1000cc and 2500cc are not allowed. Bikes with engine capacities between 250cc and 800cc, as well as scooters ranging between 50cc and 500cc, are welcome in this country.

People Who Can Import Commercial Vehicles

Only under special circumstances can you import commercial vehicles.

  1. Legal heirs of a deceased person who resided abroad and left the vehicle to their successor.
  2. Charitable and religious trusts can import for their use.
  3. Indian business entities engaged in foreign collaboration or a foreign business entity having branches in India.
  4. Honorary Consuls under Ministry or Government of India.
  5. Journalists certified by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or the Press Information Bureau.

NRIs who have lived abroad for longer than two years prior to the relocation can import a commercial vehicle under one condition: They must have owned the car on the foreign registration for at least a year.

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Rules to Import a Used Car – Non-Commercial

If you want to import a registered, loaned, or leased car, keep these points in mind. Remember, the process will be quite time-consuming.

  • You can bring in your vehicles only at the Mumbai naval docks.
  • The manufacturing date on the vehicle shouldn’t be more than three years old.
  • It must be a right-hand drive car with a speedometer reading in kilometers. That means, you can not import cars from the United States, Canada, most European countries (except UK), gulf countries, and many other countries that have left-hand drive.
  • It must have headlights adjusted according to the specifications of Indian government.
  • Get a roadworthiness certificate valid for 5 years.

Rules to Import a New Car – Non-Commercial

The government regulations for bringing in a new vehicle is just slightly different and less lengthy.

  • If the car was built and assembled outside India, you must import it from the country of its manufacture.
  • It must have a right-hand drive with a speedometer reading in kilometers. That means, you cannot import cars from the United States, Canada, most European countries (except UK), gulf countries, and many other countries that have left-hand drive.
  • Headlights must be adjusted according to government specifications.
  • Your importing naval docks are Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai.

The specifications of your vehicle, either old or new, must fall under the provisions given in the Central Motor Vehicles Act of 1988.

Using Transfer of Residence

If you are relocating to India to permanently settle there, you can take advantage of this provision. Points to keep in mind are:

  • You must have been staying abroad for longer than two years.
  • You must plan to stay in India for a minimum of one year.
  • Your previous trips to India must have been shorter than six months at a time.
  • You must import the car within six months of arrival.

Remember, only one member of the family can use this option. Also, your vehicle must meet the standards and conditions put down by the government. And, you cannot sell this car for at least two years after import.

You would need to consider the import duties, road tax, and registration charges on your vehicle import. The documentation will require:

  1. GATT declaration
  2. Vehicle’s invoice
  3. Insurance policy
  4. Sea Waybill or Bill of Lading
  5. Import license
  6. Purchase order
  7. Test report (road-worthiness in case of old car)

Along with this, you may require a duty exemption entitlement certificate, a duty entitlement passbook, an export credit guarantee corporation of India, or other documents. You may need to get a bank draft in favour of Customs as required. Since the cost of import stands quite high, it is worth taking the advice of authorized experts.

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