Customs Clearance Stories from the Gallagher Archives. 

Can you import a used car from overseas? Yes, but only without a passenger!

We recently had a client who was moving to the United States from Italy.  His employer was very nice and was willing to pay the cost of having this importer’s personal car shipped from Italy for him.

All vehicles have unique issues that can make clearing them through U.S. Customs quite challenging.  As a rule the vehicles must conform to all U.S. safety regulations administered by the Department of Transportation and all U.S. pollution control standards administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.  In this case, however, the problem encountered was much smaller than these issues – – and much larger.

The ocean container with this vehicle inside was ordered for an examination by a customs officer with U.S. Customs & Border Protection.  Customs often examines shipments for a variety of reasons:  to guard against terrorism, to prevent smuggling, to protect against unsafe products entering the commerce of the U.S., to ensure the full collection of all duties and taxes on imported products, and for other reasons as well.  The importer is responsible for the cost of all such exams and the expense can be quite onerous.

Car in container shipping

In this particular case what the officer found inside the container (in addition to the car!) was a little cricket.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t just an ordinary little cricket, but a cricket of a species not found in the U.S.  It is a pest which our government is trying to keep away from our borders.  This cricket was termed an “actionable” pest.

The action from Customs was to quarantine it and ordered it to be exported back out of the U.S. or destroyed.  By “it” I don’t mean just the cricket – our client was ordered to either export his car back to Italy, or destroy it.  Fortunately or unfortunately, the car did not have a high value.  It simply was not worth the cost that would be incurred shipping the car back to Italy.

Thus, our client had his vehicle destroyed.  But before it could be destroyed, it had to be fumigated, then sent to the crusher.  All that because of a bug! That was quite a result for an “actionable cricket.”