Heading South For The Winter With Your Vehicle? Here’s The Updated Process

With summer coming to a close, perhaps you are preparing to make your annual journey to the warmer southern states in the U.S. for the winter. However, take note that the Covid-19 Pandemic has changed the process of bringing your vehicle with you.

In the past, Canadian’s have benefited from a 6-month standing U.S. travelers Visa, built on the strength and location of the Canada/U.S. relationship. They have been exempt from a formal travel visa process. As such, many Canadians have acquired a property in the U.S which they travel to for 6 months out of the year before returning to Canada. Many of these travelers drive their personal vehicles, loaded with the household items they need, through the land border to their home away from home.

With the closure of land borders to nonessential traffic, you can no longer drive down to your seasonal rentals or properties. Instead, you may fly there. So what is a traveler to do with their Canadian vehicle?

With the help of a carrier and a customs broker, you can still get your vehicle to your U.S. destination. Below we will go over this process along with a few helpful tips to make it go as smoothly as possible.

Step 1: Hire A Carrier

First, you will want to make sure you can secure a carrier to bring your vehicle South.

Tip: Book early! Due to Covid and the subsequent demand to ship vehicles across the border by Carrier, there is a high rate of demand and a lower rate of supply. Our advice is to book your carrier well ahead of needing the vehicle in the U.S. At the time of this writing, in some cases, it can take months to get your vehicle picked up in Canada and shipped South.

Not only will you want to ensure your carrier is available, additionally you will want to ensure they have adequate insurance coverage for the value of your vehicle. In most cases, a carrier’s basic insurance coverage will cover the cost of damage, however, if you are shipping a vehicle with a very high value, you will want to take the extra step of securing additional insurance coverage.

Tip: Ensure you arrive in the U.S. before your vehicle. The import form required to temporarily import your vehicle into the U.S. must include your flight details and show an arrival date that precedes the vehicle delivery date.

Step 2: Temporarily Import Your Vehicle Into The U.S.

Next, you will import your vehicle into the U.S. on a temporary basis.

Here Are The Temporary Import Steps To Bringing Your Canadian Vehicles Into The U.S.:

For these clearances, you will need to:

  1. Source a transport carrier to ship your vehicle south (more on this below)
  2. Fill out a CF 3299 customs form
  3. Supply the form to your chosen carrier
  4. Provide your carrier a copy of your passport or travel visa (if applicable) 

The carrier will manifest the load and head on down to the delivery.

Import A Vehicle Into The U.S. In 3 Steps

What If My Vehicle Is New?

It is important to note that if you have owned your vehicle for less than a year there is a chance that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may require a formal Customs entry, thus a formal export from Canada. This also means that your vehicle would need to then be registered in the U.S. in the destination state.  If this happens, please be aware that when you return to Canada you will have to formally export your vehicle back to Canada and it will have to be re-registered.

Ship your vehicle into the U.S.
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About Author
Breanna Leininger
CCS, LCB

Breanna has been in the industry since 2004 and has dealt with clearances and compliance concerns for a multitude of commodities for all ports of entry and all modes of transportation. She has a Bachelors in Communications, Bachelors in Political Science & Government, is a Licensed Customs Broker as well as Certified Customs Specialist. Breanna has been asked to be the speaker as a variety of events including the BC Agriculture Show, Doing Business in the US seminar and has been a contributor to Smal Business BC publications She was recently nominated for the NCBFAA Government Affairs Conference Emerging Leaders and Mentors by the NBCBA. She participates in the Northern Border Customs Brokers Association and the NCBFAA annual conferences in Washington, DC. Breanna has a deep passion for politics, global affairs, and how communication shapes policy and international business relationships. She feels very fortunate to work in an industry that allows her to take part in how policy impacts the global economy and domestic businesses of all shapes and sizes.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.