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Buying surplus military equipment the right way

Declan Kelly, EU Inspection Manager at IronPlanet – the leading online marketplace for buying and selling used heavy equipment and trucks – discusses the key considerations for buyers of surplus U.S. government equipment that has recently become available to the European market.

The opportunity to purchase European-based surplus equipment from the United States government has fast become an intriguing prospect for construction companies and military equipment enthusiasts.

By utilising online auction services to bid on the equipment – which includes trucks, cranes, forklifts and jeeps – European bidders have easy access to a range of U.S. DLA vehicles that have previously been unavailable for civilian use.

But as with any machine purchase, buyer due diligence is of the upmost importance. Knowing what you need to consider before you buy will make the post-sale process infinitely easier. Here, we address some top tips for buying surplus government equipment.

Know what you are buying
It is no good buying a piece of equipment through auction, only to find that it is unsuitable in terms of specifications or that it is dogged by faulty components. Fortunately, the risks are unlikely to rear their heads in the case of surplus military equipment.

The equipment is maintained to the highest military standards and, generally speaking, it has barely any hours on the clock compared to civilian-used equivalents. But rather than making assumptions, you should expect the marketplace platform to provide you with a thorough and reliable inspection report so you know exactly what you are getting in terms of mileage, features, age and condition.

Know your regulations
You need to remember that you are buying U.S. military surplus equipment, built for U.S. use – therefore the likelihood of this equipment being CE certified is slim. So if you are planning on buying for on-road use, there may be some modifications required to bring it up to European standards – for example tail lights, ignition and headlight angles. Of course, always check with your local road authorities as to the specific factors that must be considered.

The message here is to not automatically assume that you can drive the vehicle straight out of the military base. But with the right guidance from your service provider, you can have your machine up to standard in no time.

Know your paperwork
To ‘check out’ the equipment, you will have to fill in the relevant forms, Firstly, a 0215 customs form has to be completed and stamped before the equipment can leave the government base. Additionally, a T1 declaration to customs must be opened, which enables you to transport the equipment from A to B across borders within the EU.

Failing to complete these in advance will inevitably result in unnecessary delays, but the marketplace will be able to assist in preparing all the necessary documentation, as well as recommending a specialist freight partner for the seamless transportation of the equipment to its destination.

Know when to pick-up your machine
You might think that there would be complications in the handover process, but for European buyers, it is relatively quick and pain-free. The U.S. equipment available to buyers in Europe is demilitarisation code A, which is considerably less complicated than the more restrictive codes F or Q. With F and Q, the United States government perform an ‘end user certification’ – which is not required for the equipment sold in Europe.

Without this delay and with the necessary paperwork and documentation already prepared, you can expect your equipment to be ready to go within a week of making the purchase. Of course, simply turning up at the military base and expecting access to your equipment is not an option, so ensure you have scheduled an appointment with the marketplace’s on-site representative in advance.

It is advantageous and easy to buy surplus U.S. military equipment – with a service provider that is willing to guide you through the buying process. You can be assured that you are buying quality, well-maintained equipment that presents extremely good value for money. By taking these considerations into account before you buy, you can have the equipment on your yard safely, legally and efficiently.

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