[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 108 (Friday, June 5, 1998)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 30700-30703]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-14151]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 594

RIN 2127-AH26
[Docket No. NHTSA 98-3781; Notice 1]

Schedule of Fees Authorized by 49 U.S.C. 30141

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.


SUMMARY: This document proposes fees for Fiscal Year 1999 and until 
further notice, as authorized by 49 U.S.C. 30141, relating to the 
registration of importers and the importation of motor vehicles not 
certified as conforming to the Federal motor vehicle safety standards 
    NHTSA proposes that the fee for the registration of a new importer 
be reduced from $501 to $491, and the fee for annual renewal of 
registration be increased from $332 to $350. These fees include the 
costs of maintaining the registered importer program. The fee required 
to reimburse the U.S. Customs Service for bond processing costs would 
increase by $0.25, from $5.15 to $5.40 per bond.
    The fee payable for a petition seeking a determination that a 
nonconforming vehicle is capable of conversion to meet the FMVSS would 
remain at $199 if the petition claims that the nonconforming vehicle is 
substantially similar to conforming vehicles. With respect to vehicles 
that have no substantially similar counterpart, the petition fee would 
remain at $721. In addition, the fee payable by the importer of each 
vehicle that benefits from an eligibility determination would be 
reduced from $134 to $125, regardless of whether the determination is 
made pursuant to a petition or by NHTSA on its own

[[Page 30701]]

initiative (this does not apply to vehicles imported from Canada 
admitted under VSA 80-83).
    Finally, the new fee adopted in 1997 under which a registered 
importer must pay a processing cost of $14 for review of each 
conformity package that it submits would be increased to $16. However, 
if the HS-7 Declaration form for the vehicle is filed electronically 
with the U.S. Customs Service though the Automated Broker Interface, 
and the Registered Importer has an e-mail address and pays by credit 
card, the fee would be reduced to $13 per vehicle.

DATES: Comments are due on the proposed rule July 20, 1998. The 
effective date of the final rule would be October 1, 1998.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: George Entwistle, Office of Vehicle 
Safety Compliance, Office of Safety Assurance, NHTSA (202-366-5306).



    On June 24, 1996, at 61 FR 32411, NHTSA published the latest in a 
series of notices which discussed in full the rulemaking history of 49 
CFR part 594 and the fees authorized by the Imported Vehicle Safety 
Compliance Act of 1988, P.L. 100-562, since recodified as 49 U.S.C. 
30141-47. The reader is referred to that notice for background 
information relating to this rulemaking action. The fees authorized by 
the statute were initially established to become effective January 31, 
1990, and have been in effect and occasionally modified since then.
    The fees applicable in any fiscal year are to be established before 
the beginning of such year. This document proposes fees that would 
become effective on October 1, 1998, the beginning of FY99. The statute 
authorizes fees to cover the costs of the importer registration 
program, to cover the cost of making import eligibility determinations, 
and to cover the cost of processing the bonds furnished to the Customs 
Service. NHTSA last amended the fee schedule in 1996; it has applied in 
Fiscal Years 1997-98.
    As a general statement applicable to consideration of all fees, 
they are based on actual time and costs associated with the task, which 
reflect the slight increase in hourly costs in the past two fiscal 
years attributable to the approximately 2.3 percent raise in salaries 
of employees on the General Schedule that became effective on January 1 
each year in the years 1997 and 1998, and the combined locality raises 
of 1.232 percent.

Requirements of the Fee Regulation

Section 594.6--Annual Fee for Administration of the Importer 
Registration Program

    Section 30141(a)(3) of Title 49 U.S.C. provides that registered 
importers must pay ``the annual fee the Secretary of Transportation 
establishes * * * to pay for the costs of carrying out the registration 
program for importers * * *.'' This fee is payable both by new 
applicants and by registered importers seeking to renew their 
    In accordance with the statutory directive, NHTSA reviewed the 
existing fees and their bases in an attempt to establish fees which 
would be sufficient to recover the costs of carrying out the 
registration program for importers for at least the next fiscal year. 
The initial component of the Registration Program Fee is the portion of 
the fee attributable to processing and acting upon registration 
applications. The agency has determined that this portion of the fee 
should be decreased from $301 to $290 for new applications, and 
increased from $132 to $149 for renewals. The higher cost of $290 over 
$149 for a new application is warranted because the average cost of 
processing a new application is substantially greater than that of an 
application for renewal, and the adjustments proposed reflect the 
agency's recent experience in time spent reviewing both new and renewal 
    The agency must also recover costs attributable to maintenance of 
the registration program which arise from the agency's need to review a 
registrant's annual statement and to verify the continuing validity of 
information already submitted. These costs also include anticipated 
costs attributable to possible revocation or suspension of 
    Based upon the agency's review of the costs associated with this 
program, the portion of the fee attributable to the registration 
program is approximately $201 per registered importer, an increase of 
$1. When this $201 is added to the $290 representing the registration 
application component, the cost to an applicant equals $491, which is 
the fee proposed by NHTSA. It represents a decrease of $10 from the 
existing fee. When the $201 is added to the $149 representing the 
renewal component, the cost to a renewing registered importer is $350, 
which represents an increase of $18.
    Sec. 594.6(h) recounts indirect costs that were previously 
estimated at $7.07 per man-hour. This should be raised to $12.12, based 
on the agency costs discussed above.

Sections 594.7, 594.8--Fees To Cover Agency Costs in Making Importation 
Eligibility Determinations

    Section 30141(a)(3) also requires registered importers to pay 
``other fees the Secretary of Transportation establishes to pay for the 
costs of * * * (B) making the decisions under this subchapter.'' This 
includes decisions on whether the vehicle sought to be imported is 
substantially similar to a motor vehicle originally manufactured for 
import into and sale in the United States, and certified as meeting the 
FMVSS, and whether it is capable of being readily altered to meet those 
standards. Alternatively, where there is no substantially similar U.S. 
motor vehicle, the decision is whether the safety features of the 
vehicle comply with or are capable of being altered to comply with the 
FMVSS. These decisions are made in response to petitions submitted by 
registered importers or manufacturers, or pursuant to the 
Administrator's initiative.
    The fee for a vehicle imported under an eligibility decision made 
pursuant to a petition is payable in part by the petitioner and in part 
by other importers. The fee to be charged for each vehicle is the 
estimated pro rata share of the costs in making all the eligibility 
determinations in a fiscal year.
    Inflation and the small raises under the General Schedule also must 
be taken into count in the computation of costs. However, NHTSA has 
been able to reduce its processing costs through combining several 
decisions in a single Federal Register notice as well as achieving 
efficiencies through improved word processing techniques. Accordingly, 
NHTSA does not propose a change in the fee of $199 presently required 
to accompany a ``substantially similar'' petition, or the fee of $721 
for petitions for vehicles that are not substantially similar and that 
have no certified counterpart. In the event that a petitioner requests 
an inspection of a vehicle, the fee will remain at $550 for each of 
those types of petitions.
    The importer of each vehicle determined to be eligible for 
importation pursuant to a petition currently must pay $134 upon its 
importation, the same fee applicable to those whose vehicles covered by 
an eligibility determination on the agency's initiative (other than 
vehicles imported from Canada that are covered by code VSA 80-83, for 
which no eligibility determination fee is assessed). It is proposed 
that this fee be reduced by $9 to $125 per vehicle, based upon a 
decrease in administrative costs

[[Page 30702]]

expended on this aspect of the registered importer program.

Section 594.9--Fee To Recover the Costs of Processing the Bond

    Section 30141(a)(3) also requires a registered importer to pay 
``any other fees the Secretary of Transportation establishes * * * to 
pay for the costs of-(A) processing bonds provided to the Secretary of 
the Treasury'' upon the importation of a nonconforming vehicle to 
ensure that the vehicle will be brought into compliance within a 
reasonable time or if the vehicle is not brought into compliance within 
such time, that it is exported, without cost to the United States, or 
abandoned to the United States.
    The statute contemplates that NHTSA will make a reasonable 
determination of the cost to the United States Customs Service of 
processing the bond. In essence, the cost to Customs is based upon an 
estimate of the time that a GS 9, Step 5 employee spends on each entry, 
which Customs judged to be 20 minutes.
    Because of the modest salary and locality raises in the General 
Schedule that were effective at the beginning of 1997 and 1998, NHTSA 
proposes that the current processing fee be increased by $0.25, from 
$5.15 per bond to $5.40.

Section 594.10--Fee for review and Processing of Conformity Certificate

    This is a new fee, adopted pursuant to Sec. 30141(a)(3), which 
became effective on October 29, 1997. It requires each registered 
importer to pay $14 per vehicle to cover the cost of the agency's 
review of any certificate of conformity furnished to the Administrator 
pursuant to Sec. 591.7(e) (62 FR 50882).
    Based upon an analysis of the direct and indirect costs for the 
review and processing of these certificates in the months since the fee 
was adopted, NHTSA has found that the costs averaged $16 per vehicle 
and it is therefore proposing that the fee be increased by $2, to $16 
per certificate. However, if a registered importer enters a vehicle 
with the U.S. Customs Service through the Automated Broker Interface, 
has an e-mail address to receive communications from NHTSA, and pays 
the fee by credit card, NHTSA has estimated that the reduction in cost 
to the agency would be approximately $3, and this would be passed on to 
the Registered Importer by reducing the fee to $13 per vehicle.

Effective Date

    The proposed effective date of the final rule is October 1, 1998.

Rulemaking Analyses

A. Executive Order 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    This rulemaking action was not reviewed under Executive Order 
12886. Further, NHTSA has determined that the action is not significant 
under Department of Transportation regulatory policies and procedures. 
Based on the level of the fees and the volume of affected vehicles, 
NHTSA currently anticipates that the costs of the final rule will be so 
minimal as not to warrant preparation of a full regulatory evaluation. 
The action does not involve any substantial public interest or 
controversy. There will be no substantial effect upon State and local 
governments. There will be no substantial impact upon a major 
transportation safety program. Both the number of registered importers 
and determinations are estimated to be comparatively small. A 
regulatory evaluation analyzing the economic impact of the final rule 
adopted on September 29, 1989, was prepared, and is available for 
review in the docket.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The agency has also considered the effects of this action in 
relation to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. Sec. 601 et seq.). 
I certify that this action will not have a substantial economic impact 
upon a substantial number of small entities.
    The following is NHTSA's statement providing the factual basis for 
the certification (5 U.S.C. Sec. 605(b)). The proposed amendment would 
primarily affect entities that currently modify nonconforming vehicles 
and which are small businesses within the meaning of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act; however, the agency has no reason to believe that a 
substantial number of these companies cannot pay the fees proposed by 
this action which are only modestly increased (and in some instances 
decreased) from those now being paid by these entities, and which can 
be recouped through their customers. The cost to owners or purchasers 
of altering nonconforming vehicles to conform with the FMVSS may be 
expected to increase (or decrease) to the extent necessary to reimburse 
the registered importer for the fees payable to the agency for the cost 
of carrying out the registration program and making eligibility 
decisions, and to compensate Customs for its bond processing costs.
    Governmental jurisdictions will not be affected at all since they 
are generally neither importers nor purchasers of nonconforming motor 

C. Executive Order 12612 (Federalism)

    The agency has analyzed this action in accordance with the 
principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 12612 
``Federalism'' and determined that the action does not have sufficient 
federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism 

D. National Environmental Policy Act

    NHTSA has analyzed this action for purposes of the National 
Environmental Policy Act. The action will not have a significant effect 
upon the environment because it is anticipated that the annual volume 
of motor vehicles imported through registered importers will not vary 
significantly from that existing before promulgation of the rule.

E. Civil Justice

    This proposed rule will not have any retroactive effect. Under 49 
U.S.C. 30103(b), whenever a Federal motor vehicle safety standard is in 
effect, a state may not adopt or maintain a safety standard applicable 
to the same aspect of performance which is not identical to the Federal 
standard. Section 30161 sets forth a procedure for judicial review of 
final rules establishing, amending or revoking Federal motor vehicle 
safety standards. That section does not require submission of a 
petition for reconsideration or other administrative proceedings before 
parties may file suit in court.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 594

    Imports, Motor vehicle safety, Motor vehicles.

    In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR part 594 would be amended 
as follows:


    1. The authority citation for part 594 would continue to read as 

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30141, 30166; delegation of authority at 49 
CFR 1.50.

    2. Section 594.6 would be amended by;
    a. Revising the year ``1996'' in paragraph (d) to read ``1998,'';
    b. Revising the introductory text of paragraph (a);
    c. Revising paragraph (b);
    d. Revising paragraph (f)(6);
    e. Revising the final sentence of paragraph (h); and
    f. Revising paragraph (i), to read as follows:

Sec. 594.6  Annual fee for administration of the registration program.

    (a) Each person filing an application to be granted the status of a 

[[Page 30703]]

Importer pursuant to part 592 of this chapter on or after October 1, 
1998, shall pay an annual fee of $491, as calculated below, based upon 
the direct and indirect costs attributable to:
* * * * *
    (b) That portion of the initial annual fee attributable to the 
processing of the application for applications filed on and after 
October 1, 1998, is $290. The sum of $290, representing this portion, 
shall not be refundable if the application is denied or withdrawn.
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (6) Verifying through inspection or otherwise that a Registered 
Importer is able technically and financially to carry out its 
responsibilities pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118 et seq.
* * * * *
    (h) * * * This cost is $12.12 per man-hour for the period beginning 
October 1, 1998.
    (i) Based upon the elements, and indirect costs of paragraphs (f), 
(g), and (h) of this section, the component of the initial annual fee 
attributable to administration of the registration program, covering 
the period beginning October 1, 1998, is $201. When added to the costs 
of registration of $290, as set forth in paragraph (b) of this section, 
the costs per applicant to be recovered through the annual fee are 
$491. The annual renewal registration fee for the period beginning 
October 1, 1996, is $350.
    3. Section 594.8 would be amended by revising the first sentence in 
paragraph (b) and in paragraph (c) to read as follows:

Sec. 594.8  Fee for importing a vehicle pursuant to a determination by 
the Administrator.

* * * * *
    (b) If a determination has been made pursuant to a petition, the 
fee for each vehicle is $125. * * *
    (c) If a determination has been made pursuant to the 
Administrator's initiative, the fee for each vehicle is $125. * * *
    4. Section 594.9(c) would be revised to read as follows:

Sec. 594.9  Fee for reimbursement of bond processing costs.

* * * * *
    (c) The bond processing fee for each vehicle imported on and after 
October 1, 1998, for which a certificate of conformity is furnished, is 
    5. Section 594.10(d) would be revised to read as follows:

Sec. 594.19  Fee for review and processing of conformity certificate.

* * * * *
    (d) The review and processing fee for each certificate of 
conformity submitted on and after October 1, 1998, is $16. However, if 
the vehicle covered by the certificate has been entered electronically 
with the U.S. Customs Service through the Automated Broker Interface 
and the registered importer submitting the certificate has an e-mail 
address, the fee for the certificate is $13, provided that the fee is 
paid by a credit card issued to the registered importer.

    Issued on: May 22, 1998.
Kenneth N. Weinstein,
Associate Administrator for Safety Assurance.
[FR Doc. 98-14151 Filed 6-4-98; 8:45 am]