Customs Targets Illegally Imported Land Rover Defender Vehicles

By May 7, 2013 Import

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is on the lookout for illegal imports of Land Rover Defender vehicles that do not meet federal safety standards, including the standard that requires airbags. This year, CBP has identified dozens of illegal shipments at various ports of entry across the United States, including Baltimore, Charleston, S.C., Jacksonville, Fla., and Savannah, Ga.

Most recently on March 5, CBP officers at the port of Norfolk, working closely with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seized a shipment of two imported Land Rover Defender vehicles. CBP officers seized the shipment following the determination that the vehicle identification numbers on the vehicles were found to be fraudulently manipulated. The VINs were changed to make the vehicles appear older than they are to take advantage of an exemption that allows vehicles that are at least 25 years old to be imported without regard to whether they comply with federal motor vehicle safety standards. The shipment arriving from Great Britain had been targeted for examination by CBP’s Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center in Washington, D.C.

“Ensuring the safety of imported products is a top priority for CBP,” said Allen Gina, CBP’s assistant commissioner for international trade. “The concerted targeting efforts of CTAC and the vigilance of CBP officers and import specialists at our ports of entry will help ensure that unsafe vehicles from overseas markets do not reach our roadways.”

NHTSA regulates imported motor vehicles. Illegally imported vehicles can pose potential safety hazards to drivers and all road users.

“Safety is the Department of Transportation’s top priority,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Those who illegally import Defenders and fraudulently offer the vehicles for sale are motivated by profit and do so at the expense of U.S. consumers and legitimate U.S. businesses that follow the law. We continue to work with our partners at CBP and the CTAC to prevent the importation of illegal vehicles and to inform consumers about the presence of and potential safety risks associated with these vehicles.”

Since October 2012, CBP has seized more than a dozen illegal Land Rover Defender vehicles for violating NHTSA and Environmental Protection Agency regulations, for a total value of approximately $250,000. The overseas value for this model of vehicle is approximately $25,000. However, the resale value in the U.S. can run as much as $150,000 per vehicle depending on its model year, condition, and because these vehicles cannot be lawfully imported into the U.S. unless they are at least 25 years old. A significant portion of those shipments arrived into the U.S. via sea cargo from Great Britain.

Prospective buyers of imported vehicles can confirm the validity of the vehicle by checking the VIN in a vehicle history report. Buyers who suspect a vehicle is being illegally imported are encouraged to report suspected trade violations. All information submitted to CBP is voluntary and confidential. To report a possible trade violation, please visit eAllegations. ( eAllegations )

The CTAC combines resources and staff from several government agencies, including NHTSA and EPA, to protect the American public from harm caused by unsafe imported products. For additional information on the CTAC and import safety, please visit, and click on the “Priority Trade Issues” tab.