Some of this information can work for importing from other countries but you have to look into the specifics for each country to know for sure with the USDA. Also pricing and locations may change, this is accurate as of 1/2017 and most of it applied back in 2014 and 2011.
Things to consider before putting money down on a horse.
Put your hands on the horse, ride it if that is what you will do with it when you get it home. This is a live animal with feelings and personality and it would be a shame to spend 20k+ to find out that you don't get along, their stride doesn't suit you, or that the horse is more horse than you can or want to handle. So budget money for a flight and hotel/car rental to get out there to meet the horses that make your top choice list.
Vet check the horse
In Holland if they sell a horse as a sport horse then they will usually provide leg x rays. Make sure you have your vet examine them or the University Vet hospital. Make sure someone that you trust is giving you the analysis of the x rays and take more if there are any questions. They will most likely not let you x ray a pregnant horse so if it's a mare that you plan to ride and need sound make sure that is examined before breeding, or in between breedings.
Female horses sold for breeding will not usually come with leg x rays because it's implied that they are not riding horses that they are for breeding and long term soundness is not as much of a concern. It's highly recommended that you have the vet check done for yourself. If pregnant include ultrasounds of the foal. Insemination records so you know how many inseminations it took for her to get pregnant and what date she actually took.
For stallions if you are planning on breeding them make sure you do a semen analysis. Have some frozen and test the frozen. Do your own test of the semen. They may provide you semen results, but it's up to you to know for sure. Ask how often the stallion is collected. When he was last collected. How many mares did he cover (broken down by year). How many confirmed pregnancies, live foals (they are not the same, so ask for both). Ask for previous years evaluations on semen. EVA tests or vaccinations (vaccinations are not common in NL). Can the stallion ship chilled semen. What were those test results. Can they Freeze, again test results. Also with Frozen and Chilled make sure that you get conception rates as well as progressive motility (not just total, but also progressive). Consider the volume of semen and concentration.
Scan the Microchip to make sure it matches the papers. Also review any markings that are listed on the papers vs what the horse actually has. I have seen horses that on the papers say no markings and they poses a larger than allowed star or leg marking. If you see a leg marking that looks like it's an injury make sure you have the vet reports because at the US keurings they will want to know why the horse has a white marking that is not allowed. Accidents do happen that leave white hairs, but vet reports will tell the judge that the marking was acquired and not present at birth.
DNA test the horse, hair DNA is random in Holland (taken at foal registration in the US). So if you are buying for pedigree/breeding make sure that the horse you buy is the horse on the papers.
Price depends on the horse and the papers, training, ranking at the keuring. Make sure that you do your research and don't pay more than you have to. Paying more drives up the market. As of early 2017 it was more affordable to purchase a horse already in the US than it was to buy one in Holland and pay import fees on top of the purchase price.
Make sure that you have reviewed the importing requirements for the USDA/APHIS EQUINE as well as your state requirements for import STATE (links may change but you can always Google USDA equine import requirements and find the current link)
As of early 2017 the estimated total costs are 10k for a mare, 8k + CEM (6-12k) for a stallion and 8k for a gelding or horse under 2 years of age. If something is found in quarantine and more tests are needed then costs can be higher. But these are realistic estimates. If you can get it for less, check every line item and make sure nothing is missing. You may have less expense in ground travel or have a lower air plane fuel cost for that time of year. But realistically set aside the above amounts and factor them into the total price you will pay for your imported horse.
There are many import shipping companies that will handle the cost break down for you and manage how to get your horse door to door. There are a few ways to save money but Holland Export quarantine is not one of them, that is very standard and strait forward. And your export broker will manage the details.
The broker will also handle the export permit from Holland, but please confirm with them that they will help with the US import permit. If not go to the USDA link to get the paperwork and make sure that it's submitted properly. You do not want your horse to arrive without this being processed. The import permit application (if simple as of 1/2017) is around $150, amendments are more.
The flight portion of the travel has to be handled by a broker of some kind because special containers are needed for horses to travel on the airplane, and a groom is required to join the horses on the plane. I had the rare chance of being the groom on our Australia to US flight with our horses but that was because they were only my horses and a 2nd groom was needed. There are rare cases where people get to fly with the horse, but don't count on it because they are liable for all the other horses on the flight also. The air cost will depend on what port you bring your horse into. The horse box will hold 3 horses, or 5 foals. Each box costs about 15k per box, so 5k per horse or 3k per foal (varies on location, but this is a reasonable figure to keep in your head).
LAX, New York, and Florida are the most commonly used. Chicago and New Jersey have the capability but NY is the most cost effective since they have the most flights. LAX is also good for the west coast. When picking your broker make sure that they handle the export from your preferred port (Amsterdam for Holland) and your Import port in the USA. I know Florida's company has a monopoly on the import to FL so the exporting company would have to work with them.
Quarantine for horses coming into the US from Holland (as of 1/2017) is about 3 days (other countries have other lengths of quarantine). Currently USDA/APHIS fees (as of 1/2017) is about $430 per DAY but can be up to $2500 min for the 3 days. If the horse is under 731 days or 2 years old or a gelding they will be cleared through import quarantine and be able to go home from there.
If the horse is over 2 years old and Mare or Stallion then they must go to CEM quarantine after regular import quarantine. Mares stay for an avg. of 3 weeks and stallions for an avg of 5 weeks. Make sure that the broker factors in transport from the import quarantine facility to the CEM quarantine facility. You will not be allowed to do this. The trailer picking them up will be locked by USDA when picked up and checked and unlocked by USDA on arrival at the CEM facility. It will then be disinfected per the quarantine requirements. Be aware that Florida has the highest rate for CEM quarantine prices (about 2500 more per horse) so driving a distance may be cheaper than doing CEM in Florida.
As you can quickly see prices vary A LOT. Your broker will have the most current list and prices and locations to know what is your cheapest and best option.
UC Davis CEM isolation prices (about 3400 for mares 12,200 for stallions. This said 15 days, but it's usually 21 days....) So do your homework where you want your horse to go to CEM. The broker can help. Sometimes it's cheaper to drive further then it is to have your horse quarantined close to home. NC CEM location (Stallions: $5,365 total. Length of stay is 35 to 40 days.* Mares: $2,262 total (with or without foal). Length of stay is 19 to 21 days)
Sky Coast in KY estimates 6500 for stallion CEM, mare was not posted online.
Other fees to look out for
You will have a US customs import fee based on the value of the horse
(more fees to come, after all, it's the Government we are talking about. They love adding fees)
If you use a broker door to door then you should be ok, but knowing all the above information will help you avoid having a broker miss something and have problems with your import. There are some companies that are used more than others and I'm not advertising for any of them or vouching for any of them but if you use the search Holland horse flight you'll find listings. Some other searches didn't pull up the broker sites. Horse 2 fly and IRT are ones that we have used. But get quotes from people and ask forums if they are trusted companies.