Tips On Importing Armor and other vehicles from Overseas...

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Augdog1964

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Richmond, IN
Guys,

I posted this awhile back, and a lot of guys have found it extremely helpful. I get asked through SS quite a bit, on how to import, and/or acquire vehicles overseas, especially from E. Europe. I thought I would repost it here to help those with these questions.

I would be happy to provide assistance in Form 6, and putting guys in touch with customs brokers, and shipping agents for heavies as well... thanks in advance.

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Ok guys... It took a lot of time and effort, frustration and pain, but I've learned some valuable lessons in importing vehicles for my collection...

1) Locate vehicle: You MUST have someone you either explicitly trust OR must put boots on the ground overseas and see, drive and check the vehicle. Armor especially is to big an investment. Take 100s of documentary pictures during this process.

2) Get an agreement with the owner on how the vehicle will be stored and cared for while you wrestle with importation. Will it stay inside? If not, is the vehicle secure? Insurance for loss once paid for? What will the temperature be where the vehicle sits? Are the fluids and tire pressures ok for this? Will the vehicle be started and batteries maintained?

When I say agreement, GET A CONTRACT. How long will they take to ship once you have approvals? Where will be located? What happens if you can't get import approval? Refunds? Will the vehicle be driven once paid for (get hours and mile/kms when you are there!!!). Use this and other step bys to document this contract.

3) If armor WHO IS DOING THE DEMIL AND DO THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING? Want to really screw armor up have a hack do this work! The US demil standards are VERY different than UK, and the EU member states. In fact our standards are so damaging that many individual collectors may not sell to the US. You MUST have the breech block cut in two pieces and the barrel must have a hole the size of the bore cut in the high pressure area! If you want trouble buy a "demilled" vehicle in CZ and have it show with a full breech and a few little slits cut in the barrel! GET PICS OF THE DEMIL BEFORE SHIPPING and ensure that it meets standards before it is loaded. All secondary guns must be stripped from the vehicle or demilled as well. Don't let a nice E. European think he's doing you a favor by dropping a "bonus" PKT in the package inside the turret, or worse yet tucked into an engine compartment! This CAN happen!

Here is another problem for armor... the breech block is an INTEGRAL part of the barrel mechanism, providing the counterweight for the barrel length! When you cut the breech the barrel becomes incredibly front heavy. Worse yet the breech block invariably contains the barrel travel "lock" that secures the barrel. When cut how will the barrel be secured for shipping? How will you repair this to make the barrel balance? An unbalanced freefloating barrel is DEATH if riding inside the turret.

4) You must fill out your Form 6 completely and properly! The tank, its origin country, and any / all demilled weapons must be properly placed on the form. If you are not confident in doing government forms hire someone to do this for you. The price you pay is nothing compared to the cost of improper import documents! When you submit prepare to either be surprised or frustrated, as approvals are sometimes lightning fast, or horribly slow. Be prepared to get a reject the first couple times, or requests for more info, as you learn the form filling process!

Customs is not filled with people who don't do their jobs! Your vehicle WILL be inspected, and since 911 they are given documents on the import and the demil approved by ATF. Make sure the vehicle is clear of any ammo, and other no/no items as well!

5) Get the name and office location of ANYONE who calls from ATF Imports with questions or reject info. They are nice people doing a thankless job... and it can really help if you can find them again once you've fixed your issue!

6) GET A CUSTOMS BROKER! GET A CUSTOMS BROKER! GET A CUSTOMS BROKER! Do NOT attempt to negotiate the docks, customs, Department of Agriculture and the myriad post 911 security approvals and documents. The price is very reasonable... my customs broker cost me about $600 for the T-55 and they did all the coordination at the pier.

You will also have to buy an import bond. This can be a one time, or a year bond if you plan to do multiple imports. The bond covers everyone if the vehicle comes in and is seized or is not legal and the import co/ customs broker has their name on the document. Everyone gets legal protection. About $500 for a year bond.

7) KNOW YOUR PORT! There are some ports you shouldn't ship a big rock to!

Prearrange transport and have them standing by. KNOW the exact weight, width, height, and length of the vehicle and get those to the transport co. Be aware of individual state issues in transport heavy vehicles. Be involved with transport... the bids on moving my T-55 from Baltimore to Indiana varied DRASTICALLY! Individual states can be a bear. Ohio is really bad... over 80k? Gotta have State Patrol escorts and 45 MPH all the way!

9) Who is transporting your vehicle to the dock in the originating country? Have they done the proper paperwork for export? Do they have the proper documentation? If they don't know this process, hire a Mil Vehicle exporter in that country. I owe Bob Fleming a lot. He was patient and thorough and actually returns emails unlike a couple other UK exporter / mil vehicle companies. He knows his stuff and is more than reasonable with demil and shipping!

10) Who is arranging shipboard transport? Another reason to have a company help in the originating country. Once again I owe Bob Fleming big here!

11) Don't forget dirt! Say What? If you are buying any vehicle there can't be dirt on it ANYWHERE! Imagine hand cleaning each track link on a T-55 to get all the dirt and dirt residue off the vehicle. TRUE! What will that cost? Your vehicle WILL be inspected by Dept. of Ag FIRST! Usually before it comes off the ship. If it isn't clean you will pay the Govt. Agency contractors to do so! NOT CHEAP!

12) Make sure that COMPLETE STARTING AND STOPPING INSTRUCTIONS ARE WITH THE VEHICLE! If it has a master power switch make sure that is included! The BPzV we imported, the dock crew didn't turn off master power and she was dead when the shipper arrived. They had to use a dock fork lift (MUST BE HUGE) to lift it on the truck, which could have been damaging!

If you think you can show at the dock and drive your vehicle off and on to the transport, you are wrong... You basically now have to have security clearance to get on the dock. If you decide to go through that you still have to hire - wait for it - a licensed dock escort! (let the jokes begin). This takes a LONG time.

You still can't get on the ship, they won't let you. Best you can do is maybe watch it drive off the RO/RO (roll on / roll off).

13) Make sure transport is ready once it is cleared. You get some grace, but the T-55 was going to be billed $300 a DAY for dock storage. YUCK!

14) Be ready when it arrives to unload. Have people on standby as the unit travels. Don't think you'll unload a 42 ton tank with your 10 year old and yourself. Have support equipment (batteries, cables, fuel, pull vehicle) readily available. Your truck driver is NOT going to want to sit all day and wait while you try to get an immobile tank off the trailer!

Be prepared for any type of weather too! The BPzV was in a driving rainstorm, the T-34 in the middle of winter (talk about cold inside a 35 ton "cold" sync) and the T-55 after 18 inches of rain over the past two weeks, destroying every piece of turf in sight! LOL!

15) Know your vehicle before it arrives! Where are the batteries, fuel, controls for starting (best if labelled by last owner if in CZ for instance) etc.

16) Make sure you know enough about your vehicle to keep it safe. TANKS DO NOT CARE WHO THEY HURT and it can be much more dangerous when a fascinated newbie from down the street wants to take a ride!

17) Be prepared to WAIT! I arranged purchase in June, inspected the vehicle in August, had approval for import in November. Was demilled and cleaned by March (this took longer as I wanted the tank stored inside for all work and out of the UK winter, so this slowed down transport and work), and arrived May 6th. Basically 10 months... but that was probably slowed by at least 2-3 months by my inside requirement!

Thats about it! I'll get more pics up as we start working on her!

Dave Bane
Augdog1964

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BiffJ

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Heres some hints that could be helpful....check the customs and state dept regs on import duty as well. Tanks and other off road vehicles don't have any normally but on road types may depending on date of manufacture. If you're buying something thats competing with US truck manufacturers than you may have to pay a pretty substantial duty. Its important to check on licensing and registration as well. You may be able to drive it physically across the border but the regs may not permit it. Customs may nail you with a big charge at the border even if they do allow you to drive across.....no surprises are best. Like Dave said, do your research and find someone to help out that knows the ropes. It may cost you a little but will save you a lot in the long run. Some of the prices look pretty attractive on the overseas vehicles but the details can easilly double the price.
Lastly be patient but don't sit and wait. Ask Dave about the T72 program. Be aware that everyone isn't as wound up as you are about getting things done. Many of the other countries don't work on the internet schedule we do. You might expect quick replies to your questions and to have paperwork done promptly but not everyone works on that schedule. Many seems to have a much slower program on this but it doesn't mean they're trying to screw you. They just aren't quite as quick. On the other hand you need to keep after them so time induced memory loss doesn't make your toy fall off the map.
Hope that helps...


Frank
 

ARYankee

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When you import a foreign MV do you have to keep the importation documentation forever? Does it have to follow the MV when/if it changes ownership?
 

B3.3T

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When you import a foreign MV do you have to keep the importation documentation forever? Does it have to follow the MV when/if it changes ownership?
No and No. The import docs are to get it in. Once here, its here. You can keep the files for your own records, and do not forward with vehicle when sold. Those are your records. The new owner has no need for them.
 

B3.3T

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This whole process is much less stressful if you have a vehicle(s) that fit in a CONEX container. You can load a container with all the spares and such and no one has to drive it or mess with it at all. Upon delivery to a loading dock- you do need that- you just drive it off or tow it off. Much simpler for shipping, too. As for duty, there is none if over 25 years old. Licensing/titling for most state is no problem either. It is simply a vintage vehicle. I've done 21 in 18 years, mostly via CONEX.
 

ARYankee

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No and No. The import docs are to get it in. Once here, its here. You can keep the files for your own records, and do not forward with vehicle when sold. Those are your records. The new owner has no need for them.
Thanks for answering that.
 

ARYankee

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This whole process is much less stressful if you have a vehicle(s) that fit in a CONEX container. You can load a container with all the spares and such and no one has to drive it or mess with it at all. Upon delivery to a loading dock- you do need that- you just drive it off or tow it off. Much simpler for shipping, too. As for duty, there is none if over 25 years old. Licensing/titling for most state is no problem either. It is simply a vintage vehicle. I've done 21 in 18 years, mostly via CONEX.
Excellent! I had some questions about this process because I've thought about doing it for myself but mainly due to working on some MV friendly legislation in Arkansas. Some questions arose about imported MVs and I really hadn't thought about them at all so I figured that I needed to find out.
 

jdmcm

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I would recommend Mike Lynch at Inter-market Freight Services for shipping and I have had great success with Paul Bennet for doing the ATF paperwork and obtaining import licenses.
 

B3.3T

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You can do the ATF Form 6 yourself. It's free and there is no import license required for personal use.
 

Hummermark

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Hi,

I would go with Mike Lynch at Inter-market Freight they / he brought my M1070 to the UK from the USA. He charged $650 for doing the export permit. He also goes to some military shows in the UK so has real interest. He has done a lot ofdifferent military stuff from tanks to motorcycles from and to a lot of countries so knows what he is doing! It is a real firm as I visited their premises as its not far from me (it's not his living room).

If you look on milweb, their company has an advert running under the amour and tracked category - the is a picture of an Abbott on there which I think he exported to the USA.

Regards,

Mark
 

teletech

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santa cruz,ca
Expect it to take a long time.
I bought my vehicles last July and am still waiting for delivery. Most of that was the seller and I kept buying little things to add but a month for the form-6 and a similar amount of time for the export docs from the UK (I'm told that is unusual). Then an extra week for the container drop-off, an extra week for shipping, and extra few days for port congestion. Then it got expensive... The extra weeks for customs!

Expect it could cost a LOT more than you thought.
Between the original quote and actual shipping I had:
despite the seller saying he had a loading dock they decided to do a "drop" +$500
it took the seller longer to load the container +$100/hr for 6 hours!
there was a delay between the time of the initial quote and actual shipping, despite the exchange rate improving and the price of oil plunging +$700
labour dispute at the port of oakland +$400
cost estimate for customs and brokerage fees $1000
A week later I hear I must pay $1400, today, bank check and sent overnight and a scan of the check and postage due today.
this bill is for "random" enhanced screening, they took everything out and put it back, it is itemized and includes
lovely items like $600 handling, $150 special handling, $25/day storage, and a $27 fuel surcharge! (where can you drive from Oakland to Oakland to even use $27?)
The next day I get a similar bill with the same terms (NOW!) for $1050 because the shipping line was charging $175/day demurrage.
I expect I'm at least a grand from getting the vehicles in my shop and paid for!
*UPDATED* the customs broker was close to $1400 but I got another bill for another $2000 from BOBAC (same deal: next day cashieer's check).

Expect to hurry-up and wait.
Everything takes as long as it takes and nobody can tell you how long it will be, so many folks involved and nobody talks to anybody else.
Of course, when somebody needs to be paid they want a cashieers check, next day and of course they won't take ANY other form of payment. If they don't get it tomorrow, expect another $200-300 per day plus throwing off the process.
In my case, the container has been at the port for almost a month!
 
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Carlo

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palazzago italia
Expect it to take a long time.
I bought my vehicles last July and am still waiting for delivery. Most of that was the seller and I kept buying little things to add but a month for the form-6 and a similar amount of time for the export docs from the UK (I'm told that is unusual). Then an extra week for the container drop-off, an extra week for shipping, and extra few days for port congestion. Then it got expensive... The extra weeks for customs!

Expect it to cost a lot more than you thought.
Between the original quote and actual shipping I had:
despite the seller saying he had a loading dock they decided to do a "drop" +$500
it took the seller longer to load the container +$100/hr for 6 hours!
there was a delay between the time of the initial quote and actual shipping, despite the exchange rate improving and the price of oil plunging +$700
labour dispute at the port of oakland +$400
cost estimate for customs and brokerage fees $1000
A week later I hear I must pay $1400, today, bank check and sent overnight and a scan of the check and postage due today.
this bill is for "random" enhanced screening, they took everything out and put it back, it is itemized and includes
lovely items like $600 handling, $150 special handling, $25/day storage, and a $27 fuel surcharge!
The next day I get a similar bill with the same terms (NOW!) for $1050 because the shipping line was charging $175/day demurrage.
I expect I'm at least a grand from getting the vehicles in my shop and paid for!

Expect to hurry-up and wait.
Everything takes as long as it takes and nobody can tell you how long it will be, so many folks involved and nobody talks to anybody else.
Of course, when somebody needs to be paid they want a cashieers check, next day and of course they won't take ANY other form of payment. If they don't get it tomorrow, expect another $200-300 per day plus throwing off the process.
I buy MV from all over the world and I would never dream of doing it with out a shipping specialist. Not only the save you money but the quote you a price and respect it. No surprises.
 

Another Ahab

Well-known member
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Alexandria, VA
Expect it to take a long time.

labour dispute at the port of oakland +$400

The next day I get a similar bill with the same terms (NOW!) for $1050 because the shipping line was charging $175/day demurrage.
I expect I'm at least a grand from getting the vehicles in my shop and paid for!

Expect to hurry-up and wait.
Whoa, this activity is not for the weak of heart. More power to you.

I was actually surprised that you got off as (relatively) cheap as you did for the Port of Oakland labor dispute.

I mean not cheap to you of course by any means, but I would have expected more impact.

Thanks for making it clear how complex the whole process can be. I had no idea.
 

jdmcm

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Here is my latest tale of importing a vehicle (tank) from overseas...I made the deal with the seller, great guy, very helpful team working for him, I had Paul Bennett do my ATF form 6, got through first time, only took 6 weeks. Had mike Lynch from Intermarket Freight Service handle the shipping from England to USA. Tank gun was deactivated to ATF spec, except the breech ring which the seller removed for me so I could ship it direct to Canada. Here in Canada we do not have the ridiculous laws regarding completely destroying the breech ring with a torch like in the USA (destroying the value of the tank as well in my opinion). Anyway tank was cleaned and loaded at Southhampton, took less than three weeks to arrive in Tacoma (nearest roll on/ roll off port to me). Ship arrived 3 days early, tank was offloaded Saturday morning and by noon Monday had cleared both US Customs and US Dept. of Agriculture. Port of Tacoma allows 15 days grace for the vehicle to be picked up, we picked it up in 3days. So yes there are pitfalls, but if you choose experienced partners who know how to handle the paperwork and shipping, the process does not have to be horrible or prohibitively expensive. Now we have the only Type 69 in private hands in North America, as far as we know. And this one wasn't some leftover supply depot slug, no sir, she has a combat history culminating in her capture by the coalition in the '91 Gulf war

IMG-20150410-01645.jpg
 
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