RightHandDrive.ca/blog Canadian Right Hand Drive News and Thoughts


More Skylines Seized in California

I talked about this not so long ago. There are a few RHD cars that are legal to import into the USA,and Skylines are on that list. But, Skylines need modifications to meet the standards in the USA, and my understanding is that there is no shops that can do that work.

So, that means that most RHDs in the states have been imported illegally, and this can happen: 2 more Skylines have been seized, and will likely be crushed. I found the link on Jalopnik here. The original article, that is more fleshed-out can be found here on Nicoclub.com.

To the people who have lost their cars: I'm sorry. That sucks. Best of luck in the fight to get them back.


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Importing a Right Hand Drive into the USA

I realize this is a .ca domain... but I have a substantial amount of traffic from the USA, and don't want to leave them out in the cold. So, today's topic, how to import a Right Hand Drive into the States.

WAIVER: I don't know a lot about this, but I'm sharing what I know.

The USA has an interesting way of banning these vehicles: They are not allowed to be imported. Once imported you can register them. This isn't saying that it'll be _easy_ to register them... some insurers might be completely unprepared to register a Daihatsu Midget. Operator: "Uhhh, that's not in our system".  Be prepared to find someone who knows how to handle edge cases like that.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is in charge of controlling what hits the roads in the States.  Their site is http://www.nhtsa.gov/ and the site we care about is the Importation Requirements page. On the requirements page there are a bunch of interesting documents, and an outline of thing like what you can import easily, who modifies vehicles for use on the road, and so on.

If you're considering importing a RHD, the first thing you should look at is the List of Nonconforming Vehicles Eligible for Importation. On this document you can see which cars are available to import.

The 25 Year Rule

Much like Canada's 15 year rule, the USA has a 25 year rule. From the List of Nonconforming Vehicles Eligible for Importation document

(a) All passenger cars less than 25 years old that were manufactured before September 1, 1989;

I believe this is a sliding window, but if it's not, then the RHD needs new seatbelts that are DOT standard, instead of JIS.

All the vehicles on the list that are RHD are marked as so.  If you do a quick 'find' on the document you can quickly see which RHDs are available for import. Sadly, there's so few I can list them here in short order.

  • Bently Azure - 1998
  • Honda Accord - 1994 to 1997
  • Jeep Cherokee - 1994 to 2001 (Postal Jeeps!)
  • Nissan Skyline - 1996 to 1998 (that's the R33) GTS and GTR

Annnnnd... that's it.

Other things to note on the Rules Site is the Vehicle Importation Guidelines (Non-Canadian). Even if your RHD comes THROUGH Canada, it's not Canadian, and falls under this umbrella. There is a list of "Registered importers who conform vehicles manufactured for sale in Other countries than Canada".  Sounds like a major cash-grab situation.  I haven't heard a review of what they might have to do to get, say, an RX-7 street legal. In my opinion moving the steering wheel is out of the question.

Some extra interesting reading here: NHTSA: Importing a Right Hand Drive Vehicle, though I'm not totally sure what to make of it.

Other ways to import

There are other ways to import too.  You can import a vehicle for racing without much hassle (as per the epa).

Apparently.... if you're military returning from service there's a loophole to get basically ANY vehicle into the States. BUT, I can't find any evidence of this on the web.

Also, if you're not using it on the road it's fine.  Racing falls under this category (kind of... though there's a little more paperwork involved). So, farm vehicles or off-road would be relatively simple.


If you can get the car into the States you can insure it.  Importing it incorrectly or illegally could result in the vehicle being seized. This is rare, but if you're importing something nice it'd sure be nice to keep it.