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Importing E30 to US

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    Importing E30 to US

    Hello. I'm interested in bringing an E30 touring to New York from the UK. Who has experience with this process?

    Obviously the car is over 25 years old so that is not a problem. I read that if you bring the car into the Baltimore port its cheapest (I got a quote for $800). Then there are additional port fees and unloading charges that apply (almost $1000). What else do I need to know? What do I need on the UK side? On the Baltimore side?


    I did this a few years ago with my 325, it was going from Switzerland to the US but the general process should be pretty similar.

    I set everything up through a shipping coordinator, you don't have to and can save a few hundred doing the various steps yourself but I think it's worth shelling out the cash if you've never shipped a car before (assuming you ever want to see your car again). I went with Sefco, their website is unsettling outdated in style but I had a great experience working with them. If you contact them for a quote they're going to want to know when you want to ship the car, what kind of car, etc. I had recently finished watching The Wire so I had to choose the Le Harve to Baltimore route, plus it was a good excuse to visit Normandy.

    Once eventing was setup and paid with Sefco, it was just a matter of dropping my car off at the docks in La Harve. They'll tell you the exact address and date. There was some final paperwork that needed to be filled out at the docks but it wasn't anything complicated. At some point after I left my car was packed onto a Hoegh RoRo boat and a few months later I got an e-mail that my car arrived in Baltimore.

    Going down to Baltimore I had to pick up the import paperwork at some office building (they'll tell you where), this is where I got all the good stuff that will actually let you register your car like the DOT exemption. After that you'll need to hire an escort service to take you onto the dock to pick up your car, it's silly but for whatever reasons it's the rule. I went with A1 Escort Service and they were cool (especially in my case where my car was dead on the dock (long story) but in the end the guys at A1 were super cool with helping me get someone to tow it to their yard and then letting me do some wrenching to get it up and running)

    ** BE ALERT ** If you've timed things wrong or happened to have a mechanical situation on your hands and you're still at the port working with the dock workers when the lunch bell rings, they will stop talking with you mid sentence and walk away for their break.

    Once you're car is up and running then you've done it! Drive off into the sunset knowing that America has one more E30 in it's ranks.

    If I had the chance to do it all over again I would have packed my car full of stuff. I filled my trunk with some various spare parts and some tools hidden well below them, but I should have had the rear seat and front passenger seat filled as well. The shipping people don't care. Just be smart about it and don't have anything obvious showing that might catch the eye of a bored dock/ship worker (cases of booze or piles of swiss gold).
    Lachssilber 1987 325i M-Tech
    Nerzbraun 1986 316 (carbureted) - RIP


      Just some advice, if you care at all about later resale value, you would do well to try to import a left hand drive model.

      This should tell you what you need to know in New York:

      You'll also need EPA and DOT waivers.

      The only part I'm not very sure on is how New York handles SMOG testing. I'm pretty sure New York does regular emission testing and follows California standards, so I don't know how they handle EPA exempt vehicles. They could be like California and still require SMOG compliance, or they could be like the rest of the country and honor EPA exemption.
      Last edited by earthwormjim; 04-05-2019, 04:41 PM.


        There is a pinned (and directly above this one) titled "DIY: How to Import an E30 Touring"
        Originally posted by Sonny
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