How to import a Vespa

Importing a Vespa purchased across the ocean is not as easy as it may seem, but with this guide you will understand the process and be successful. Many times the headache of importing a Vespa from overseas is handled by a domestic dealer which of course increases the price. Setting clear expectations about the vast amount of regulations and paperwork necessary to import a Vespa will keep you from becoming frustrated throughout the process.

There are a few U.S. government bodies that regulate the importation of scooters. Understanding their purpose in the transaction guides the process.

The National Highway Transportation and Safety Authority (NHTSA) sets scooter safety standards that must be passed upon entry of the U.S. If a scooter is deemed out of NHTSA compliance, it must be modified to meet safety standards or barred from entry.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for clean running scooters. Taking a look at the EPA's website will help buyers confirm a prospective scooter's emissions. Most scooters have pollution controls but they must meet EPA standards before U.S. entry. Non-conforming scooters will again be barred from entry.

The State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) also places regulations on scooters. You should doublecheck with your local DMV office that an intended scooter can be registered. A scooter must be street legal in each State and lists of acceptable models can be found online.

The rest of the Vespa importation process lies within seller verification and shipping procedures. Here is a step-by-step overview of the procedure:

1. Find an international shipping service in Italy.

2. Have the Vespa seller deliver the Vespa to the shipping service of choice.

3. Buyer pays freight charges to the international shipping service. Be sure to prepay duty charges.

4. Confirm with the shipper where the first port of entry will be in the United States. Then choose a port closest to your home location and have the scooted connected from port of entry to home port. This information can be found on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website.

5. Before finalizing the international shipping transaction, be certain to have a copy of the shipper's bill of lading and any registration documentation from the departure Country.

Now that your Vespa is on its way to the United States, be sure to fill out forms EPA 3520-1 and DOT HS-7 from the EPA and NHTSA websites respectively. These forms will take care of the emission and safety provisions listed in the first section. A final inspection will be completed when the Vespa arrives at the final home port. Be sure to allow the international shipper or U.S. customs to contact you if any issue arises. Do not forget to bring all of your Vespa paperwork with you as you collect your Vespa from the home port's custom clearance department.

With some extra diligence you will have saved hundreds to thousands of dollars and avoided all sales claims of a scooter dealer! Enjoy zipping around town in your brand new Vespa.

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