I’m afraid this article may a bit of a bummer for some of you, because if you’re reading it, you’re probably trying to get your high intensity discharge (HID) conversion kit into the country. Unfortunately, the chances are slim to none if you’ve already been contacted by your freight carrier that they need additional information. Currently, HID conversion kits are restricted goods and, if you have been contacted by the carrier, U.S. Customs probably has a pretty good idea of what you are importing.
While I feel for your situation, let’s look at why the HID conversion kits are considered to be contraband by the Department Of Transportation (DOT). HID conversion kits are kits that are designed to allow you to convert your existing halogen automobile lamps to HID lamps, providing increased visibility in low light driving conditions. Typically, HID conversion kits come with two bulbs and ballasts, clamps, screws, and wires. The kits are designed for “do-it-yourselfers” and are reasonably priced. However, the reason they run afoul of DOT regulations is because, unless the HID lights are properly aligned, usually with laser leveling, they can become a road hazard to oncoming traffic. In addition, DOT regulations require replacement equipment conform to original factory specifications. It is the position of the DOT that the only vehicles legally allowed to operate with HID lamps are cars that were originally manufactured with them.
You may be asking yourself why you were able to even purchase your HID conversion kit online from a U.S.-based vendor if the goods are considered to be contraband. Well, that’s a reasonable question. The fact of the matter is that it is illegal to manufacture or sell HID conversion kits in the U.S. Having said that, unfortunately, the Department Of Transportation does not have the jurisdiction to enforce the laws currently in place. It is up to law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Customs, to enforce the laws that are in place. So, if law enforcement agencies aren’t enforcing those laws, there isn’t much DOT can do about it. Within the past few years, however, enforcement nationally has increased and probably, that is why you’re reading this article.
Now it’s important to note that importing replacement bulbs for your existing HID lamps is perfectly legal and there is nothing stopping you from doing so. Just bear in mind that your shipment will probably undergo additional scrutiny by Customs as these goods are very much on their “radar”. So, if your car was not manufactured to utilize HID lights, and your recent purchase of the conversion kit has been noticed in the import process, chances are it will not be allowed entry into the U.S. You can work with your shipper to apply for a refund of your goods, but realize that can be a drawn out process. If applicable, work with your credit card company to recoup your expenditure.