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Call State Department before completing tax-exempt sales to diplomats

January 4, 2013
Eligible foreign missions and their members and dependents in the United States are privileged to make tax-exempt purchases or leases of official or personal vehicles, but not without a letter issued by the U.S. State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions, the office instructed in a Dec. 27 letter to the CATA.
Diplomatic Tax Exemption Cards issued to all eligible foreign missions and their members and dependents may not be used for a tax-exempt transaction. Instead, prior to finalizing the transaction for a vehicle purchase or lease, the dealership must directly contact the OFM during normal business hours to request the issuance of a Motor Vehicle Exemption Letter.
The OFM’s Chicago regional office can be reached at (312) 353-5762 or When requesting a letter, the dealership must provide the following information:
1. The dealership’s name, mailing address, and telephone and fax numbers;
2. The color, year, make and model of the vehicle that the mission or accredited mission member is planning to acquire; and
3. For official vehicles: the name of the foreign mission that is purchasing or leasing a vehicle; or
4. For personal vehicles: the name (as it appears on the person’s "A series" or "G series" visa) of the accredited mission member or the dependent who is buying or leasing a vehicle, the name of the foreign mission to which the individual is assigned, and the individual’s State Department-issued personal identification number (PID). (Note that individuals also must present proof of their diplomatic or consular status to the dealership—i.e., valid passport which contains their current "A series" or "G series" visa, or Department-issued protocol identification card, or Department-issued driver’s license, or Department-issued Diplomatic Tax Exemption Card.)
The OFM strives to transmit Motor Vehicle Tax-Exemption Letters to requesting dealerships either by electronic mail or facsimile within two hours of receiving a request. The uniquely-numbered letters serve as the OFM’s formal notification of the referenced foreign mission or accredited mission members and their dependents’ eligibility for an exemption of sales and use taxes imposed on vehicle sales and leases.
The letter instructs dealerships to send all original ownership documents directly to the OFM so that the vehicle can be properly registered and titled, and to treat the transaction as an out-of-state registration. The OFM will issue a registration card and federal license plates once proper documentation is received.
The OFM also will send a title to the indicated lien holder to protect the interest of the lender. Finally, the letter indicates that the dealership can issue a temporary state tag as long as proof of sufficient insurance is provided.