Combined with a strong Canadian dollar, lower costs and greater selection, for some Canadians it makes sense to buy a vehicle (including other self propelled vehicles and equipment) from the United States. Importing a purchase of this magnitude would be best left to the Customs experts, a customs broker; however, if you prefer not to use a customs broker, here are the steps required when importing a vehicle:

  1. Check if the vehicle is admissible into Canada. For vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States, we recommend you verify with The Registrar of Motor Vehicles at 888.848.8240 or  www.riv.ca to whether the vehicle is admissible into Canada. For all other vehicles call: Transport Canada at 800.333.0371 or  www.tc.gc.ca.
  2. Check if the vehicle meets Environment Canada Vehicle Emissions Requirements.
  3. Be prepared to wait three (3) days before you can bring your new vehicle into Canada. You must send 72 hours prior notice to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (not including weekends or U.S. Statutory Holidays) before crossing the border. If you do not submit prior notice, you may be subject to a $500.00 USD fine. Also, the vehicle must stop at U.S. Customs before it physically crosses into Canada.
  4. You must have the original title, original bill of sale and recall clearance letter from the manufacturer.
  5. Copies of the bill of sale and the title (the front and back) must be faxed to U.S. Customs.   If no title is required, then a letter from the exporting State?s Department of Motor Vehicles stating that no title is required for that type of vehicle must be provided. In addition, you?ll need to have the supplier certify in writing that the sale is a bona fide sale and that the vehicle is not stolen. When the vehicle arrives at the border, it must be reported to U.S. Customs and the original title and original bill of sale must be presented to U.S. Customs at that time.
  6. There are a number of other fees, such as a possible 6.1% duty if the car is manufactured outside the USA, GST payable at the time of import,   HST or PST payable at time of insurance, an Excise Tax on air conditioning of $100.00 CAD, and the green levy of anywhere between $1,000.00 to $4,000.00 CAD depending on the vehicle.
  7. A Transport Canada Form 1 must be completed and stamped released by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in order to insure your vehicle in Canada. If using a customs broker, the Form 1 may be submitted electronically and you will receive an email from RIV in place of the paper form.
  8. The importer must pay a fee of $310.00 directly to the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) online and will in turn be issued a Form 2.
  9. The Form 2, along with the vehicle, must now be taken to an approved inspection facility within 45 days of import. Once inspected, your Form 2 will be stamped and the vehicle will be ready for registration. A list of approved re-inspection facilities can be found  here.
  10. Take your stamped form 2, original bills of sale, original title and customs clearance to get your vehicle insured, pay your HST/PST, and drive away!

You should take note that if not done correctly, you could be challenged by possible border delays, fines or worse yet, unable to insure the vehicle in Canada.

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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.