Check it out - one guy's tale of how he got hosed trying to import a 1993 110. This was NOT ME, but there are several lessons to be learned:
1) Do your homework
2) Call more than one business for information
3) Do your homework
Just wanted to post this story as a warning to folks out there, such as myself, that have always wanted a D110, and have considered the temptation of federalizing one through a registered importer. It can be done, but be careful - here's what happened to me.
Fall of last year, I saw an ad on the LRX for the sale of a "fully federalized Defender" and contacted the owner of the Philadelphia business for details. He was friendly, informative, and took me for a spin in his newly imported RHD Scottish 1993 D110, which he told me had been legitimately brought into the US through the DOT. He also said that, for a fee, he could do all the conversions required for a 1993 D110 to be legally imported, and have it federalized. So in December of last year, I found a great deal on a 1993 D110 in the UK, and bought it. He had romanticized the notion of going RHD (which was easier to find anyway) and I was sold. After it was bought and paid for, he revealed that there "might be a problem" with RHD - he was sorting it out, but, worst case scenario, he could convert it to LHD, thereby satisfying the DOT and bypassing any problems. Likely, he told me, it wouldn't be necessary. I was a little upset by this Ė I didnít want the unanticipated expense, and quite honestly had my heart set on a RHD Ė but I decided to stick it out. For a couple weeks, I heard from him only erratically, as he was difficult to get in touch with, but, just before the UK seller was about to start charging me storage fees, he got things moving and arranged shipment. It arrived without event, but sat on the docks unclaimed. He assured me that this was normal, and that he had a lot of bureaucratic BS to sort though, so I let it go (stupid me). Then, almost two weeks after my vehicle had arrived in port, I check my e-mail and have a note from him stating that he needs me to get a cashier's check for $12,000.00 and send it certified overnight mail to the DOT. Several frantic calls followed, and he claimed that RIs all over the country were being denied bonds needed to secure vehicles brought in for federalization, and that, once again, he had everything under control. If I didn't get the money to the DOT in two days though, he stated, customs would lock up my vehicle, charge $50 a day storage fees, and, if I could not come up with the $12,000.00, storage fees and fines within a couple weeks, destroy it. Needless to say I was more than a little upset, and he continued, as before, to be near impossible to reach. So I called around to other RIs and asked if they could help. One such RI, JK Technologies in Baltimore, said they could. They explained that having me post $12,000.00 on a vehicle in lieu of my original RI was unheard of, that the "bureaucratic BS" paperwork only took minutes to file and clear, and that RHD was strictly prohibited, and could not be imported. In one day, they did what he had not been able to do in two weeks, and got my vehicle safely off the docks. In the months to follow, through multiple discussions with the DOT - up to the level of the chief - I learned several things. One, my original RI never legally imported, or even applied for importation, of the vehicle he drove me around Philadelphia in. Two, that all the RIs knew, or should have known, that RHD vehicles were, and are, not acceptable. Three, that I had no recourse against this RI. Four, that I had no choice but to export my vehicle back to the UK, because it was not eligible for import. When I contacted my original RI and asked him if he could dispute any of this, or if the DOT was telling me misinformation in regards to him, he offered me $3,000 (which he knew was less than half what I paid for my D110, not including the $1,700 in shipping and customs fees) to buy my Defender (though he wouldn't say what use it could be to him since it wasn't eligible for legal import) and told me to never call him again. So there you have it.
A 1993 Defender 110 can be legally imported to the US by a DOT registered importer (RI) but also requires certification by an EPA independent commercial importer (ICI) (which this guy was not). The vehicle must be LHD - and must have been built that way - it cannot be converted, as the DOT feels that there is no way to verify that a vehicle that is converted conforms to the same safety standards as one originally manufactured that way. If there is any doubt whether a vehicle you would like to import is eligible, itís easy enough to do just by checking the VIN number (another thing this RI neglected to do, and I was ignorant of at the time - the DOT *will* check the VIN with Landrover if there is any question). If anyone has any questions, or would like to know who to ask for info, and who to *NOT* go to for a federalization, please feel free to contact me. Hopefully, this can save some others from going through what I did. After I recover from this financial horror story, I still intend to try and find a Defender, but it will be with legitimate business owners who know what they are doing. Happy rovering.