Rules for importing a car INTO INDIA


SHIP A Used Car:

The rules for importing a used car to India are quite strict and it may take more time for the process to complete. Here are the guidelines:

  • The manufacturing year of second-hand imported cars should not be more than 3 years.
  • The vehicle must be right-hand drive.
  • The headlights of the car should be such that they are suitable for illuminating the left side of the road.
  • The speedometer should show speed in kilometres and not miles.
  • Importing a car is only possible via naval docks situated in Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. Thus, the car should be brought to India via any of these ports only.
  • The car should be either loaned, leased, registered or sold.
  • It is important that the vehicle is roadworthy. Thus, it should have a roadworthiness certificate and its validity should be at least 5 years.


Banned vehicles cannot be imported to India. A person needs to make sure that the vehicle being imported does not have the following specifications:

  • Cars that have an engine capacity ranging from 1,000cc to 2,500cc.
  • Heavy-duty two-wheelers or bikes that have an engine capacity ranging from 50cc to 500cc.
  • Scooters that have an engine capacity ranging from 250cc to 800cc.


India allows foreign nationals or Non-resident Indians (NRIs) to import one vehicle while shifting permanently to India. The vehicle can be a car or two-wheeler, new or used. Here are the other conditions for the import of a car/bike under “transfer of residence”:

  • The foreign national/NRI should not have stayed in India for at least 2 years before the transfer.
  • The person should have a plan of residing in India for at least one year after the transfer.
  • The person should not have gone through the process of “transfer of residence” for at least three years before the current transfer process.
  • This process can be carried out by only one member of the family. He/she needs to fill the Transfer of Residence Form for the purpose.
  • The car/bike should be imported within six months of shifting base to India.
  • The sale of an imported vehicle is prohibited for at least two years after the transfer. Thus, the person should wait for 2 years in order to sell the vehicle.
  • No restriction of being new or used if the engine capacity of the vehicle is between 75cc and 500cc.
  • If the engine capacity of the car being imported is more than 1,600cc, then it should be registered for at least 1 year before the import.


Commercial vehicles need to fulfil additional criteria to be imported to India. The rules are strict for commercial vehicles because passengers may travel via imported passenger cars, multi-utility vehicles, or jeeps.:

  1. The foreign national/NRI who has not resided in India for at least 2 years before the import. He/she should own a vehicle for at least 1 year.
  2. Relatives i.e. legal heirs/successors of a person who died abroad and has left a vehicle in their possession.
  3. People who are physically challenged.
  4. Business entities existing in India that have foreign equity participation.
  5. Foreign business entities that have a branch office in India.
  6. Religious, missionary, or charitable trusts that are legally registered in India and follow the said rules laid down by the State or Central Government.
  7. Any Honorary Consuls that is recommended by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
  8. Any journalist possessing the accreditation certificate from the Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India.


There are two ways in which you can get the car imported to India. The vehicle can be imported either directly from the manufacturer or through an agent. You need to arrange the required documents and follow up on the process by yourself. On the other hand, an agent will help you get the car imported to India and help you till you get the car registered in the country.

Paperwork And Documentation:

The following paperwork will be required for importing a vehicle to India. 

  • Invoice of the vehicle
  • Insurance policy
  • GATT Declaration 
  • Bank Draft
  • Bill of Lading or Sea Waybill
  • Import License
  • Purchase Order/Letter of Credit
  • Test report 
  • DEEC (Duty Exemption Entitlement Certificate) / DEPB (Duty Entitlement Pass Book) / ECGC (Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India) or other documents as required.

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