Importing a car of foreign make into India is a nuisance. You need to maneuver around the authorities and this article will help you through the process.
The car has to be a right-hand-drive. Left-hand drive automobiles are prohibited from entering the country (except for consulates and some other special categories). The Indian Government has entirely banned individuals importing cars whose engine capacity ranges from 1000 – 2500 cc. New Cars can be imported via the customs port at Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai. Used cars can be imported from the Mumbai port only. Also, the used car cannot be older than three years (from the date of manufacture). The Exim policy of 2001 lifted quantitative restrictions on importing used cars.
On customs duty:
1) The ex-factory price is used for calculating customs duty.
2) The customs duty is a standard 102.16% on new cars
3) The customs duty is pegged at 159.87% on used cars.
4) Completely knocked down cars attract a customs duty of anywhere between 38 to 48%.
5) Under the EPCG scheme, hotels / hospitality establishments are subject to minimal duty / taxes. However, they are subject to certain foreign exchange requirements.
6) If you import from Europe, you will get a refund of the VAT (value added tax).
On transfer of residence:
The most popular way of importing a car to India is via the “Transfer of residence” clause, where any Indian (settled abroad) who is relocating to India can get his car along. He should have owned the car for atleast 12 months in the foreign country. Upon import, the car cannot be sold for 2 years (from the date of import). The NRI importing the car should have lived overseas for at least two year duration. The payment for the car should have been made abroad. The car must be imported within 6 months of the NRIs arrival into India. Under this scheme, the customs duty must be paid in foreign exchange. If a handicapped person is importing the car, then the customs duty may be paid in Indian rupees. Official permission is required before selling the car in India.
On who can import:
Any individual can import a car whose value is more than USD 40000. There are no restrictions on the imports of these cars. So as most of the exotics are above that value, they can be imported freely and not necessarily on T.R. The methodology adopted by Customs authorities in assessing duty on a motor vehicle is based on the ex-factory price on the date of original purchase.
Adjustments are made for:
Foreign nationals (including persons of Indian origin) married to Indian nationals, foreign nationals working in India, branch/offices of foreign firms, companies and institutions established in India, companies incorporated in India having foreign/NRI equity, accredited journalists/correspondents of foreign news agencies, Indian firms executing contracts abroad, charitable and missionary institutions, physically handicapped persons and honorary Consuls of Foreign Governments.
On Paperwork and Documentation required:
Cars costing more than $40,000 do not have to undergo homologation from the ARAI. If the cars value is less than $40,000, the vehicle has to be submitted for testing to the VRDE (Vehicle Research and Development Establishment), Ahmednagar, of the Ministry of Defence or the ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India), Pune or the Central Farm and Machinery Training and Testing Institute, Madhya Pradesh or any other notified testing agency by the Government.
The importing agency is expected, at the time of importation, to submit a certificate issued by a testing agency (notified by the Central Government) that the second hand vehicle being imported has been tested immediately before shipment and that the vehicle conforms to all the regulations specified in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The second hand or used vehicle imported into India should have a minimum roadworthiness for a period of 5 years from the date of importation into India with assurance for providing service facilities within the country during the five year period. For this purpose, the importer shall, at the time of importation, submit a declaration indicating the period of roadworthiness in respect of every individual vehicle being imported, supported by a certificate issued by any of the testing agencies, which the Central Government may notify in this regard.
1) What’s listed above is what the rules say. Please don’t state that you saw a LHD (or something similar) since these rules are broken consistently. Bribing is rampant and some of the rules you read above may have been bypassed (unfortunately).
2) Beware of dealer rackets – There have been several well-documented cases of an imported car dealer manipulating the import documentation. In case the long arms of law catch up, it is the owner (and not the dealer) who is liable to pay duties, taxes and fines.
3) The rebadging racket is rampant in order to qualify for lower custom duties. For e.g. a BMW M5 may be rebadged to a BMW 525 and thus show a lower invoice price.
4) It’s best to hire the services of a competent and reputable clearing agent who is well familiar with the process of importing a car. This can save you a lot of running around and headaches.
5) Since the customs duty on spare parts or completely knocked down kits is significantly lower, it is not uncommon for an importer to strip a car (of seats, headlights, tyres etc) and document it as a CKD.