DOT simplifies labeling process

Robert Szostek
U.S. European Command Customs Public Affairs

An intact U.S. Department of Transportation certification label is required on all U.S. specification vehicles returning to the United States.

Whether a member brought the vehicle with them when they transferred to Europe or purchased it while overseas, the certification label is required to show the vehicle was built to U.S. safety standards.

Members planning on shipping a U.S. specification vehicle back to the States should ensure the certification label is still in one piece by looking in the following locations:

• Cars and vans – Labels are affixed to either the hinge pillar, door-latch post, or the door edge that meets the door-latch post, next to the driver’s seat.
• Trailers – Labels are affixed to a location on the forward half of the left side.
• Motorcycles – Labels are glued to a part close to the intersection of the steering post with the handlebars.

But what if the label has been damaged or is missing? In the past, vehicle owners were required to provide a DOT compliance letter in order to ship the vehicle. Fortunately, DOT no longer requires this.

“Instead you can now give the company shipping your vehicle one of three documents to show that your vehicle complies with U.S. DOT safety, bumper and theft prevention standards,” said Bill Greenwood, director of operations for U.S. European Command’s Customs and Border Clearance Agency. 

The three options are:

• A manufacturer’s letter (on the manufacturer’s letterhead, not that of a franchised dealer) stating that the vehicle was originally manufactured to comply with DOT standards

• An official vehicle registration document from a state department of motor vehicles showing that the vehicle was once registered for on-road use in the United States; or

• A vehicle identification number report (from a commercial VIN-checking service such as CARFAX) as evidence that the vehicle was once registered for on-road use in the United States.

Mr. Greenwood reminds vehicle owners to declare their vehicle under Box 2A on the DOT HS-7 form (Declaration – Importation of Motor Vehicles) and provide to U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the time of entry into the United States.

For more information on this and other customs issues, contact your local customs office.