Documents to prepare
Title and Registration
You will need the original title and registration documents of your car. If you have a lien on your title, you’ll need to get a written consent from the lien-holder to allow you to export the vehicle.
In addition to the original documents, you also need the Apostille from Secretary of State for each document. Apostille is basically a certificate that confirms a document is the original official document. Many countries are signatories to a convention which they will honor each other’s government-issued apostille.
When I exported my car, I had not known about the apostille documents. So when I tried to nationalize it in Italy, I had some trouble. But eventually I was able to proceed without them. It’s better to get them before you leave!
To process your vehicle registration in Italy, you need to have translations of both the registration card, and the title. A translation of both documents done in Italy could cost about 120 euros ($150) by a professional and takes about a week. Or you may translate it by yourself or by someone else and take the translation to get certified as a correct translation at an American consulate in Italy, or an Italian consulate in the U. S.
Check with the DMV of your state if you need to file an export form. For example, I was completely unaware of the form REG-32, which is needed to export your vehicle and cancel your registration from the DMV. The shipping agent, Christian, from Schumacher Cargo in Los Angeles talked to me about many things, but never mentioned to me that this form is necessary. I understood that they would have taken care of all the paperwork since I paid them to be the exporting and shipping agent, but they did not do this paperwork. So the DMV billed me for the next annual registration, and I had to go there in person on my next visit, write a letter explaining the situation to cancel my registration.
If you have Italian citizenship - Consulate Declaration of Repatriation
Before you move your household things and your vehicle to Italy from the U. S., you need to go to the Italian embassy or consulate to make a declaration of what you will import into Italy to claim duty-free from the custom. This document is called “Dichiarazione Consolare di Rimpatrio” or Consulate Declaration of Repatriation. This is an important document, and you need to make sure the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is correct on all the forms where it is written because the custom will check carefully the VIN on the vehicle and the document. If there is a mistake you could have a potential hold-up.
If you don’t have Italian citizenship, you don’t need this document as you’ll import it as a tourist or resident. If you import your vehicle as a tourist and later on if you decide to stay in the country as a resident, you will need to get your codice fiscale (fiscal code) and do the formal paperwork again. The custom form and clearance you will receive from the first port of entry in Italy as a tourist importer is different than the one given to a returning citizen. However, you can get the custom form as a resident later, even by yourself. It’s just more work involved. If you already have a codice fiscal, you can request to import the car as a resident – make sure you mention this to your custom broker in Italy before the vehicle arrives.
I first imported my car as a tourist duty-free. Later when I became a resident, I took the car to the nearest custom’s office and re-imported it again as a resident to nationalize it with Italian license plates.