2003 Nissan Skyline GTR
This is the only answer you need.

How to Buy Right-Hand-Drive Cars in the USA

We all know that most of the world drives in the right lane of traffic as opposed to the left.

We Americans and most of Europe poke fun at the UK for driving on the “wrong” side of the road, but do you know how much of the world drives on the left?

UK, obviously…Japan…maybe Australia, Singapore.

74 countries. 74 freaking countries drive on the left side of the road.

Left and Right Lane Driving
source: Wikipedia

Is Right Hand Drive Legal in the United States?

The simple answer: Yes, with some caveats. More on that later. Plenty of cars are available and perfectly legal including coupes and sedans.

After all, nearly all postal vehicles are right-hand-drive, and we’re able to buy those once they’ve been retired from service. If you are driving a car with an opposite side drive position to the road side then it’s a good idea to understand some of the dangers and how you can avoid. This video gives a good insight:

But why would you want to?

Good question, and there are a few answers.

This is the only answer you need.
This is the only answer you need.

First, some cars are only available as RHD, like the Nissan Skyline above for example, and to get one in the States we have to import it grey-market-style. That’s done more often than you think.

Second, and you’ll see this almost exclusively in the “tuner” market – people want their cars to be unique and stand out from the rest. So there’s that.

Finally, some people need it to be RHD for business reasons. I guess that’s pretty legit.

So how can I get a RHD car?

You have basically two choices:

Right Hand Drive Nissan interior



Taking a LHD car built for the US and converting it is a pretty popular option. Just like anything, there are Pros and Cons.

You can go the cheap route and buy a conversion kit for a few hundred bucks and do it yourself.

But seriously, are you going to want anyone to see the inside of your car if it looks like this?

"Honey, I'm not sure this is baby car seat friendly anymore"
“Honey, I’m not sure this is baby car seat friendly anymore”

You could do up a proper conversion – buying all the necessary parts second-hand, taking the car apart, and converting it the time-consuming method. This will at least make it look decent.

But during the process, your car will likely look like this for weeks, possibly months on end:

RHD deconstruction

A proper DIY conversion is probably your best option though, if you have the skills and parts/tools available. But keep in mind it’s really easy to screw this up if you don’t know what you’re doing and possibly kill yourself or another driver.

"Man, I really shouldn't have done that conversion myself."
“Man, I really shouldn’t have hired that guy off Craigslist.”

Professional Conversion

There are quite a few companies that can complete the conversion for you, if you have the money. It’ll be far safer and carry a guarantee, but it’s expensive.

A quick look on US World Direct’s Facebook page suggests a LHD-to-RHD conversion of a 2013 Chevy Camaro base model costs $25,000, while a regular C5 or C6 Corvette (excluding the ZR1) will run you a cool $38,500. That’s not including the costs of transport, and they’ll only convert certain cars.

Needless to say, not many tuners who spent $5,000 on their car will go that route.

Related: I Drive in the UK for the First Time – In a 700 HP Lamborghini

Importing it

importing a car

This is a pretty good option, barring a few important points.

First, you have to remember that the US EPA and NHTSA have very strict emission and safety standards. Typically much more than other countries, which is why you see so many more models available in Europe than in the US. Car companies simply don’t want to spend the millions it takes to get a car EPA-certified unless they know it’ll be a big seller.

So, unless a car is a grey market import (like the Skyline mentioned above,) you’ll have to import it yourself.

And to do this legally, it’ll need to be either considered a show vehicle and not driven on public roads, or already pass all NHTSA standards. Meaning it’ll have to be a car that’s already sold here in the States with LHD. And even that’s not a guarantee.

You see, foreign car companies make their cars the best they can be, then they modify them a bit to comply with US standards, and that’s what we get – typically. Usually it’s 10-20 horsepower weaker, but a cleaner and safer car to drive. But something as simple as the placement of an intercooler on a turbo’d car can make it illegal to drive on US roads.

Without getting into details, since each car is different, you’ll have to make sure your import is road-legal.

Fine, now how do I import the damn thing?

Easier than you think, actually.

The first step, of course, is to find a RHD car you want. If you’re serious about this, you’ve already done that. Your best bet is buying a car in the UK or Japan – if it’s a European car, shoot for the UK, if it’s Japanese, go Japan. Typically it’ll be cheaper if it hasn’t already been shipped halfway across the world. After all, look how much it costs UK customers to buy American cars:

As if you'd want to drive a Hummer in London
As if you’d want to drive a Hummer in London

Don’t get too cocky; European cars are much cheaper for them than for us.

Just look at local classifieds for the country in question and you’re good to go. There are also websites set up for Americans wanting to do just that (so you’re not looking at eBay Motors in Japanese.)

Once you find your car, make sure you won’t run into any problems with customs (that’s a whole article for itself and differs for each car.) Then find a shipping company you fancy and have them collect your car and send it your way.

Some car dealers already work with exporters, or you can arrange it yourself by searching around – there are hundreds of companies that will ship a car for you so you’ll have to get some quotes and search around. Expect it to cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 or more depending on the value of the car and the company.

That’s it?

buying a car headache

There are a lot of little details and laws that vary per state and per car that could be a hang-up for you, so make sure to do your own research.

This article is not a comprehensive guide – it’s a general overview that’s meant to be a generic guide for all vehicles to get you started. Make sure to look up specifics and ask around on forums for help from people who have already done this.

I’ve driven right-hand-drive cars in both the UK (left side of the road) and Europe (right side,) and let me tell you, it takes a lot of concentration at first, especially learning to shift with your left hand. It’s almost like learning how to drive again. But perhaps for you, the benefits outweigh the learning curve.

Have you ever considered converting or importing a right hand drive car?

  1. How can I make sure the car is road legal and where can I find customs information? I am looking to import a BMW i3 from the UK, and am very confused how I can find the guidelines.

  2. My dad wants to import a Nissan Silvia from Japan but he’s a bit confused on how importing it
    Can I get tips cuz he’s a huge fan of Silvia and he really wants it

    1. Hey Yasin, I would just do the research – find a foreign dealer and ask them about exporting the car and if they’re able to help ship overseas. Some of them are use to these requests.

      1. You can say that now but not few decade a go as that was hot in the market…lol

      2. I am also looking forward to impart a 1999 or 2002 Nissan Silvia! They are hella nice!

  3. Hi Christopher,

    Nice post. I recently moved from India to US. My 2013 VW Passat in India is still brand new with only 8000 Miles used. I wish to import it to USA. Is it a difficult process. Its a TDI Clean Diesel Sedan but yeah its RHD. The main worry I am having is whether the European Standards that VW has implemented in India is good enough to clear emissions in the US.



    1. Yeah, that’s a concern – luckily the US at least sells the Passat TDI so hopefully they’re close enough that they let it through. Best of luck and let us know how it turns out!

    2. Hey Anoop,

      The 2013 Passat that you have is a B7, which is nothing but a heavily face lifted B6 Passat. Unfortunately, you cannot import it to the US because of its suspension setup, it doesn’t have the urea injectors and it does not comply with the recently implemented NHTSA regulations. Hope this helped.

  4. Hi Christopher. I found a RHD 1994 and 1995 Mercedes Benz S-Class coupe in the UK. They both have speedometers in miles per hour, have driver and passenger side airbags and abs brakes and everything that left hand drive Coupes for the same years have in the USA. Since these cars have everything their LHD counterparts have in the USA ,would I be able to import them to the USA?

    1. Hi Hyland, all sounds good as long as all the safety stuff is the same, and since we have the same car here I wouldn’t see a problem with it, but make sure to double check and do your diligent research first. Good luck, let us know how it goes!

    2. No, there’s NHTSA and DOT safety tests. Since it has not been crash-tested in its RHD configuration, it will definitely not be allowed. Best bet is a 25-year-old car or older.

  5. OK, thanks Richard. I wish the USA would change the stupid 25 year rule. It is funny because earlier this year in March, CUSTOMS cleared my 1996 Chevy Caprice SS from Kuwait. It is in kilometers. It is exactly like a 1996 Chevy Impala SS in the USA, which is a WX3. My Caprice SS is a WX8 which is for the Middle East market.

  6. Hi Christoper. i will be leaving the US on this January 2015. i do have Audi A6 2014 model, its almost brand new car and i am thinking of to keep with me. is it possible to take it to india? if yes what is the procedure.

    1. I believe it would be ok to bring to India with you without many problems but it’s definitely good to research specifics to make sure you don’t run into any problems.

    2. Oh, I see someone has already done the research for you. Please see the comment above yours – it seems if it’s RHD it’s OK, not LHD. Again, good idea to research it yourself but I’m sure they’re on the right track.

        1. Hey Chris, can a 1994 Supra turbo be put on the road ? I have advertised mine on ebay, it has a single turbo conversion .

  7. Hi Jeeva, I am moving to India in 2015 with the State Department and I have researched in depth the import of car as well as spoken to logistical folks at the State Department in India and you can bring it in if it is RHD – if not, you can’t. They do not allow any left hand drive cars in India.

  8. Hey guys, I was thinking about getting a right-hand drive c63 AMG but I have no idea where to find one. I’m planning to use it for a few years in the US and ship it back to my country where it’s right-hand drive. I’ll probably have to import it but where and how do I do it? Thanks.

    1. Hey Jacky, you’ll probably have an easier time since the C63 AMG is already in the US market, but you’d still have to import it if you need it to be RHD. If you’re OK with it being LHD, you could buy it in the US and then ship it back to your country, which will likely have less strict import laws.

      1. Please correct me if I’m wrong…but didn’t they peg the top speed of the SL 65 at 155 mpg? Or am I thinking of a different model year?

  9. hi i just want to know the request to bring a car in to los angeles from japan… already have de seller in japan and i know how to buy it, but the thing is what is that i have to pay here, permisions or what to do to get it out of port los angeles, im new here so i dont know very well the law!! my email is asistentekei@hotmail.com thank you

    1. Complete Rubbish talk GordonTony or what ever you call your stupid nickname, how many cars have you import to uk? NONE l guess I have exported and imported cars both in UK and US to be honest US seems to be fear compare to UK.

      If you need to put it right its UK that is SH-TE!!! as they charge you for import M.O.T e.g. steering, bumper, fog light e.t.c

      Oh by the way l live in UK too so get your fact right ASS!!!

  10. I think governments in all countries are basically cu9ts and 8astards!

    1. Now you are saying that Government in all countries are whatever you called them!

      * Who voted the Government in your country? YOU

      * So if l were to put it right you are what you called them

      * Stop posting nonsense on pages like this and stop behaving like a complete ASS people are discussing sensible issue here not a childish act of yours coursing and swearing. THAT IS BRITISH PEOPLE FOR YOU BUNCH OF IDIOTS!!!

      1. Just want to stipulate that not all Brits are idiots – that statement is just as narrow-minded.

        This page is so helpful – thank you on behalf of all the Brits that are not half-wits; please don’t tarnish us all with the same brush of stupidity though.

        1. Hi, I don’t think he really meant to say “all” Brits, but was in a verbal fist fight with another commenter. Commenter, not actually a word, but is meant to describe someone who has made a comment. I do have a question pertaining to the article. Does anyone, in the U.S., know of a company that supplies JUST the kit to convert the steering wheel to the right side? I work for the Post Office, work out of my own vehicle and would like to convert to the right side. I have already switched the petals.

          1. Yes there are companies that sell this. I saw a few of them in the back of my rural carrier magazine we get monthly I bought a converted RHD car from US driveright. Mine is a Subaru but they do a lot of jeeps

  11. Hi i live in ohio in the the us and i want a car but the streeting wheel is on the right side and they haft to ship to the us if i get so what should i do

  12. I am hopimg to buy a 2007 Jaguar xk from europe with rhd. the comp. claims it will take care of a;ll the ship.coast proper papers for us market. What us problems will I face in New Jersey?..thanks

  13. It’s time to make a law allowing Postal Contractors to purchase RHD vehicles from overseas if the American car manufacturers won’t sell to the Postal Mail Contractor

  14. I recently moved to USA and I need to import my Toyota fortuner brand new vehicle 2013 RHD manufactured in Malaysia. Will it be possible? will it be highly cost? will RHD allow in USA. What is the custom policy for private vehicle importation for personal use.

  15. Now the Toyota FJ Cruisers are no longer available in the USA, 2014 was the last year. However I see that Australia still sells a RHD FJ Cruiser currently in 2015. Would you think they are manufactured in Japan and brought over to Australia? I would really like to have a RHD FJ, I currently have a 2007 USA FJ and love it. I just have no clue how to go about purchasing on and how I should purchase it from, a dealership in Australia or Japan ?? Would you think it could have the same emission standards as the US?

  16. For some reason UK doesn’t seems to sell Range Rover Sport in Petrol in 3 litres but only in 5 litres which are the Autobiography.

    I just noticed from my open source that you can actually get 3 litres in Cyprus for around £75,000 brand new.

    Does anyone know where to get it a bit cheaper than that? Also what is the process of shipping it to UK.

  17. How do I go about importing a LHD converted to a RHD Ford F250.
    I can buy it either new or second hand. How much to convert and how much to ship to Australia ? They used to make the RHD in Brazil, but I think they have stopped making them in Brazil

  18. Chicago is been my home for the past 15 years, and I’m planning on settling down in India in next couple of years. I have a 2015 CLA and a 2012 R350. I don’t think there is a way to take any of these cars to India as they are LHD. In case if any of you have any suggestions, please welcome.

    I’m planning to buy a RHD car possibly a ML350 and drive in USA for a year and then take it to India when I settle down there. Can anyone suggest me how to get a brand new ML350 RHD in Chicago? And if there will be any implications (other than the driving trouble) importing it to Chicago from Germany?

  19. I want to bring a supra in from Japan to NY it’s RHD and I want to keep it that way but would I be able to bring it into the states with minor to no issues. My email is julianposner61@Gmail.com (no caps) if u can help me out pls message me there. Thx

  20. I would like to import newer Toyota RHD ( like 2009 and later ) to USA. If you know some of the importer please email to “thwinm@aim.com”.

  21. I am looking for a newer RHD subaru for postal delivery here in the US. I am wanting a forester, 1998-2004 RHD. I have found a few in Japan, but am under the impression I cannot bring one to the US. The Forester is a popular model here in the US, and the RHD Legacy is a popular postal delivery car here also- Why could I not get a RHD Forester here? Aren’t thy the same car as the LHD Forester??
    I am needing a newer car for postal delivery and want to stay with Subaru for the AWD benefits.
    any help would be great!

    1. I’d like to know how to do this also. Love the Subaru for delivery, but I’d love to upgrade to a Forester.

  22. I drive a RHD 1953 Bentley R Type regularly. Not only is it RHD, but its stick shift with the stick on the right side of the driver (almost into the door). It looks like this (not my car) but gives you an idea:


    Some things that this article did NOT talk about that are important with a RHD car:

    1) Toll booths, parking structures and drive thru orders are a challenge. You have to put the parking brake on, hustle over to the left side of the car and deal with the attendant while traffic backs up.

    2) Parallel parking on the left side of the street is a challenge. Especially with a 4000 pound car without power steering.

    1. Really good points! And a *beautiful* car…I don’t think I’ve ever seen the shifter on the right on a RHD car!

  23. I’ve seen conversions that simply look hideous, and not everything is where you’d expect it to be. If it’s factory done, everything is where you’d expect it to be. the steering wheel is where it’s supposed to be, the speedometer and all the gauges are where they’re supposed to be, right in front of you. I’d import one from either Australia, or Japan if the condition justified the cost.

    1. That’s a good point. I agree, I really doubt I’d ever convert one personally. It should be done right.

      1. I agree. I’ve visited England, and they know how it’s done. Whether it’s done professionally or amateur, it should be done just as you see it. And it’s not just a matter of appearance either.

    1. Richard Dodge Nitros are common and RHD in Australia, they’re sold new here. Try looking on carsguide.com.au for used ones, also try a site called ‘just cars.com.au’.

  24. Chris. Thank you for referencing our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/usworlddirect) in your article above. There are several dozen so-called “RHD conversion shops” in the world but less than a handful of these can give you a factory-quality finish, and none of these are located anywhere in North America. We think we have the beats factory-quality conversions in the world, but we are admittedly biased on this opinion.

    US Federal laws regarding vehicle imports are a minefield and should not ever be treated lightly. There are not only Federal laws to consider but different regulations for different states. When it comes to vehicle import regulations into other countries, they can vary by quite a lot from country to country.

    If anyone has questions, please feel free to contact us thru our Facebook page or email jim@uswd.com.

  25. Im going to import a HONDA ODYSSEY RB3 to the US from JAPAN, does anyone know if here is a special shop here in the US i can have it checked out and fixed up to make sure its legal? I’m currently in NEW YORK STATE. I would appreciate the info guys, thank you.

  26. Chris – i’m an Australian working in the US for a couple of years and would love to pick up an exotic RHD vehicle to take back with me – can you advise on best options for sourcing RHD vehicles over here – also, would it be possible to walk into a Ford dealership and order a RHD Mustang here then export it?

  27. As for someone who lives in the UK, it would make much more sense to import cars from the US (seeing your price comparison table). When added the customs duty, shipping cost and conversion, it may still be profitable. Always considered cars to be cheaper in the US than in the EU.

  28. I want to buy a mustang conv eco boost in the USA, but in rhd form and ship to U.K. who should I contact ??

  29. Chris,
    I am currently stationed in Japan and will be moving back stateside soon. I would like to bring my right handed drive 2004 Nissan Presage back and try to sell it but I have no idea where to start advertising it. Is there a website where I can find people looking to buy right sided vehicles?

    1. Great question Michael, and congrats on your move back! I don’t know of any sites specifically for advertising RHD cars, but the first step I’d say is list it on the normal platforms (eBay Motors, Autotrader, etc.) making sure to put the RHD as a main point so enthusiasts can find it with their searches. Also try listing it up on enthusiast sites, since they’ll likely be looking for something more special like yours.

  30. Paul am looking to do the same mate, have you found any info to get it to Australia ?

  31. hi

    I sell USED RHD JDM car in Japan

    I want to sell in the United States too

    RHD Is there the problem?

    1. Hi Roberta, we don’t actually import or transport cars, this is a guide for you to reference.

      You should be able to import a 2005 Subaru Legacy Wagon, though.

  32. Hi..

    Would there be any issue importing a RHD 2007 Mini Cooper (BMW Cooper in Japan) to the US?? Seatlle would be my Port.

    1. Hey Dave, depends on the use really; if you’re going to use it on public roads, I’d check with BMW/Mini about it, and check with the DMV to see if you’re able to register it.

      Good luck!

  33. Hi can I buy rhd 2019 and have it ship. USA
    Can you give me a custom house brokage

  34. Hi – I have a 2015 Nissan Juke Tekna CVT (RHD) sitting in the UK right now and I’m looking to have it imported to the US. Does anyone know if it will comply with US standards?

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