When Will the Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R Be Legal to Import to the United States?
Finally, R34 Skyline GT-Rs can be imported to the USA starting January 1st, 2024 when they turn 25 years old. Understand the 25 year rule and prepare for legal Godzilla imports with our countdown to GT-R legalization.
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The Nissan Skyline GT-R has achieved legendary status among JDM enthusiasts in America thanks to films like The Fast and The Furious and blockbuster racing games such as Gran Turismo. However, due to strict import laws, fans in the USA have not been able to legally bring models like the R34 GT-R into the country - until now. A highly anticipated date is coming that will finally allow this Japanese icon onto American roads. Here we explain when R34 Skylines can be imported to the US and the rules behind importing cars under 25 years old.
Countdown to R34 GT-R Legal Importation
Many American fans have waited years for the opportunity to legally import an R34 Skyline GT-R. These turbocharged all-wheel drive coupes were never officially sold new in the US. Instead, models like the 400 horsepower Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R V-Spec and V-Spec II Nur could only be purchased in the Japanese domestic car market.
That's set to change on January 1, 2024 when the R34 Skyline will officially turn 25 years old. According to U.S. import laws for motor vehicles, any car that is 25 years or older can be legally imported into the country without having to meet federal motor vehicle safety standards required for newer vehicles. Instead, cars 25 years and older are classified as “antiques” and exempt from things like crash testing.
This 25 year import rule means fans can now begin an official countdown until R34 Skylines can land on US soil. As each day passes throughout 2023, enthusiasm will continue building for the new year. When the calendar eventually hits January 1st, 2024, the floodgates will open as importers around the country begin bringing R34 GT-R models stateside.
Understanding the 25 Year US Import Rule
The rule allowing importation of 25+ year old vehicles stems from the “Show or Display” clause passed in 1999. This allows special non-conforming vehicles to be granted legal entry into the US on a limited basis for automobile museums or car shows. However vehicles imported under this exemption must still receive official approval from the EPA and DOT agencies.
Check out our Guide to The 25 year Rule
Part of this rule grants full legal import status to any vehicle aged 25 years from its manufacture date. These vehicles are exempt from both the Show or Display exemption as well federal motor vehicle safety standards. This means importing an R34 Skyline when it turns 25 requires no special permits or modifications - only correctly filed import paperwork.
The passing of a quarter decade from date of manufacture effectively qualifies older vehicles as "antiques", shifting oversight away from the NHTSA. Instead, any vehicle 25 years old or greater can now be legally imported to the USA under collector car status recognized across the country.
R34 Skyline - Still Forbidden Fruit Until 2023
Turning 25 is still over a year away for Godzilla. Until December 31, 2023 ticks over to January 1, 2024, importing an R34 GT-R or GT-T model including the popular V-Spec and M-Spec versions still remains illegal. Those caught sneaking Skylines into the US early through unsigned ports or other means still face strong penalties.
Border agencies like Customs and Border Protection report periodically confiscating R34 Skylines attempting to enter illegally at ports from Miami to Los Angeles. However all models not approved under Show or Display are still seized or exported back to their origin country at the owner's expense. Additionally hefty fines as high as $10,000 may be imposed to discourage unlawful import and export attempts.
The Clock is Ticking for America’s Skyline Fans
Ever since the R34 model capstoned Nissan’s legendary high performance nameplate in 2002, hype for these imports has only intensified over the last 20 years as fans eagerly await the January 1st, 2024 milestone. With the calendar pages now finally flicking over into the 2023 model year, America’s GT-R fanatics can practically hear the clock ticking down to when they can start registering their own examples of this Japanese icon. Until that golden date arrives, the R34 Skyline GT-R remains a forbidden fruit that can only be enjoyed from a distance. But 12 short months from today, California tuning houses and Midwest Skyline clubs will welcome a wave of fresh JDM imports as the 25 year barrier is passed.
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