Importing A Vehicle From The US Into Canada

Many people are still researching whether it is cheaper to purchase a new or used vehicle in the US and import the vehicle to Canada.

Your research should not only include comparison shopping of a particular car in Canada with the cost of the same car in the US factoring in the exchange rate, but you need to also consider the import process, import regulations and additional fees.

Before you even consider purchasing the vehicle you should first check Transport Canada’s list of vehicles admissible from the US to ensure the vehicle you want to buy and import is admissible into Canada, and if needed, can be modified to meet Canadian import requirements. These requirements can be found at the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV)

If the vehicle needs to be modified or repaired to meet Canadian import requirements research the cost of those modifications and where they can be done. The importer is responsible for the cost of all modifications. None of the modifications should be completed until Transport Canada through the RIV gives the go ahead.

You may also be responsible for registration; licensing and emissions test requirements depending on the province into which you are importing the vehicle. You should research this with your provincial licensing authority. You can find your provincial or territorial licensing authority at the RIV website noted above.

The importer must also contact the original equipment manufacturer or authorized dealer of your vehicle to obtain a recall clearance letter, which is required in order to pass the RIV inspection. 

You should also obtain a one-month temporary license plate from the province into which you are importing your vehicle to allow you to drive the vehicle in the US and Canada while you are completing the import process. 

Ensure you have all the required documentation before you proceed to the border to officially import your car: the certificate of title; registration; sales receipts; statement of compliance label; and manufacturers recall clearance letter.

The RIV charges a fee for registering a vehicle imported from the US through the RIV program with a Form 1.  A Form 1 is a RIV form which is completed at the time of importation and initiates the inspection of your imported vehicle. It is the Importer’s responsibility to complete the RIV inspection within 45 days from the date of import. All required modifications must be completed prior to the inspection.  Canadian Tire and a number of other independent centers across Canada have been authorized to perform RIV inspections. Check the RIV site for an inspection center in your province. Once the vehicle passes the inspection the inspection center will stamp your Form 1 which then allows you to register and license your vehicle. 

The Registrar of Imported Vehicles fee which is payable at the time of import to the Canada Border Services Agency. Prices are available at Registrar of Imported Vehicles. This fee is not refundable.

Related Article: 9 Steps To Importing A Vehicle Into Canada From The U.S.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires 72 hours notice prior to the export of the vehicle to Canada. You must provide the required documentation to CBP and present your vehicle at the time of export. It is best to contact CBP at the port of export to inquire what documentation is required and the hours of inspection.

At the border, and at the time of import, CBSA will ensure you have the required documentation and supply you with a Form 1. The Form 1 must be completed by the Importer. CBSA will verify the admissibility of the vehicle with Transport Canada regulations; verify the VIN and manufacturer’s label of compliance. CBSA will collect any duties and taxes payable and collect the RIV payment.

If your vehicle was not manufactured in Canada, the US or Mexico, duty will be applied at the time of import which is 6.1% on the Canadian value of the vehicle. If your vehicle has air conditioning there is a $100 excise tax. In addition, you may have to pay a high emission excise tax (also known as green levy) which be $1,000 to $4,000 extra on your vehicle. You will be able to check this on the Natural Resources Canada Website.

Research all the steps before you consider the import of a vehicle from the US. It may indeed be a worthy venture, but “know before you go” to ensure you are fully aware of what is required from you. Pacific Customs Brokers can offer you the assistance and expertise to make the process smooth for you. Contact Pacific Customs Brokers today to get started on importing your car into Canada.

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About Author
Jan Brock

Jan Brock joined Pacific Customs Brokers in 2015 as a Senior Trade Advisor. She retired from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in 2015 after serving more than 37 years. Jan started her career with CBSA as a summer student in 1976 and worked part-time until she graduated from U.B.C. with a Bachelor of Education Degree in 1980 . Shortly after graduating from U.B.C. Jan worked full time as an inspector with CBSA and within three years was promoted to Superintendent. She served some time in the Regional Operations office as an Operations Review Officer before she was promoted to Chief of Operations first at the Customs Mail Centre, then in the Metro District as the Commercial Chief and ending her career as a Chief at Pacific Highway Commercial Operations where she served as Chief from 1992 to 2015. During her career she was a member of the Customs Drug Team and a trainer in the National Enforcement Program. Jan also served as the Regional Coordinator Officer Powers and Use of Force for the Pacific Region. Jan served on many Commercial Program Reviews and committees both national and regional during her career and possesses an expansive knowledge of importing and exporting into and from Canada.

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.