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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Oct 5, 1988.
(Measure passed Senate, amended) Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988 - Amends the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 to repeal the authority of the Secretary of Transportation (the Secretary) and the Secretary of the Treasury to permit the temporary importation of vehicles that do not conform to Federal safety standards. Revises procedures under which certain imported vehicles that do not conform to Federal standards are allowed into the United States upon the importer's compliance with conditions imposed by the Secretary regarding: (1) Federal motor vehicle safety standards; (2) recordkeeping and inspection of records and facilities relating to imported nonconforming vehicles; (3) inspection of non-conforming imported vehicles to ensure compliance with Federal motor vehicle safety standards; (4) payment by registered importers of non-conforming vehicles of a fee to cover the administrative expenses of the Federal compliance program; and (5) the furnishing of evidence by a registered importer of sufficient financial responsibility to meet obligations relating to discovery, notification, and remedy of motor vehicle defects. Allows any individual (not just registered importers) to import non-conforming foreign motor vehicles if such import is for personal use and not intended for resale at the time of importation, and if the individual posts bond and complies with other terms and conditions determined by the Secretary. Authorizes the Secretary to require that such vehicles be brought into conformity with the Federal safety standards by a registered importer. Makes the restrictions against non-conforming imported automobiles inapplicable to vehicles imported on a temporary basis for personal use (and not for resale) by any individual who: (1) is a member of the personnel of a foreign government on assignment in the United States for whom the Secretary of State has authorized free entry of motor vehicles; (2) is a member of the armed forces of a foreign country on assignment in the United States; or (3) is a member of the secretariat of a public international organization so designated under the International Organizations Immunities Act. Makes such restrictions also inapplicable to members of the uniformed services and others employed abroad who acquire vehicles before the enactment of this Act and meet other specified requirements. Exempts non-conforming foreign motor vehicles that are 25 years old or older ("classic or antique") from the restrictions imposed by this Act. Authorizes the Secretary to exempt certain motor vehicles or equipment from certain restrictions for purposes of research, investigation, study, demonstration, training, or competitive racing events. Requires the Comptroller General to: (1) review the importation control program to determine whether extension of such program is warranted, and whether the Federal standards are being met; and (2) report to the Congress concerning such review. Sets forth a specified time-frame within which the Secretary is required to report to the Congress regarding the efficacy of such regulations. Prohibits granting exemptions from energy conservation requirements for motor vehicle importers registered under this Act.