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importing a vehicle into canada

10 step guide to importing a Car from the US to Canada

Are you daunted with the thought of buying a vehicle in the US? Its really not that hard and from my experience with higher end cars there seems to be more savings. Currently the Canadian dollar is near par and yet prices for the exact same product is cheaper in the US by 20-30%.

Anyway, Its not that I want to discourage buying local because I don’t. But I think the Canadian dealerships need to bring our prices in line with the US. Until then I find no ethical reason not  to buy a vehicle in the US. There aren’t any pure Canadian auto manufacturers that I know of anyway. There is no Difference between Honda Canada and GM Canada in my opinion aside from the fact that a Honda that is not manufactured in Canada attracts duty.

So here is my 10 steps to importing a car from the US.

  1. Find the car, truck, motorcycle, or any vehicle you are interested in importing toCanada. There are many websites like autotrader.com or youpaidwhat.ca where you can search for the vehicle you want.


  1. Check to see if the car is admissible to Canadahere at Transport Canada’s website http://www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety/safevehicles/importation/usa/vafus/list2/menu.htm if all is good, then move on to the next step. If you are still unsure contact the Registrar of Imported Vehicles at 1-888-848-8240 and ask them.


If it’s a new vehicle like a 2012 model and the list only cover vehicles up to 2011 then you will have to contact TransportCanadaand get a no objection letter.


  1. Find out if there were any modifications done. Contact the seller and ask because modified vehicles are not allowed. Grey market vehicles are also not allowed i.e. Cars manufactured for the European market re-certified by aUScompany. If all is good go to the next step.


  1. If your car has a valid warranty, check with the manufacturer and find out whether the warranty will be honoured inCanada.


  1. Also check to see if there are any recalls. This is the importer’s responsibility. That means you. The vehicle must be free from any safety recalls. If in doubt, you can check here http://www.riv.ca/RecallClearance.aspx where you can search for your vehicle by all the major manufacturers and vehicle type and then contact them to issue you a letter attesting to the status.


  1. The next step is figure out how much you will have to pay. This requires a little math.



Duty and taxes – If the vehicle is made in theUS orCanada there is no duty under NAFTA; only 5% GST is payable at the time of importation. The way to tell this is by checking the VIN#. If the VIN starts with a number 1, 4 or 2 then it is made in theUS orCanada. If the VIN starts with a letter then it is made somewhere else and roughly 6.1% duty will apply plus GST on top of the duty plus purchase value. PST will apply

at the time of licensing.


Air conditioning– If your vehicle has A/C then there is $100 Excise tax charge applied.Gas Guzzler or Green Levy Tax – If your car is manufactured after March 19th2007 and it consumes 13 litres or more per 100 km it will be subject toexcise tax at the following rates:

–          at least 13 but less than 14 litres per 100 km – $1000

–          at least 14 but less than 15 litres per 100 km – $2000

–          at least 15 but less than 16 litres per 100 km – $3000

–          16 or more litres per 100 km – $4000



To find out the fuel consumption rating on your prospective vehicle check Natural Resources Canada’s website here http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/transportation/tools/fuelratings/ratings-search.cfm?attr=8


RIV fee – unless you fall under a specific category or your vehicle is less than 15 years old you will have to enter the RIV (Registrar of Imported Vehicles) program and pay the following:


-Vehicles entering the RIV program with a Vehicle Import Form – Form 1


$195.00 + GST and QST for vehicles entering through a border crossing inQuebec

$195.00 + GST/HST for vehicles entering through a border crossing in any other province


-Vehicles entering the RIV program with a Vehicle Imported for Parts Form – Form 3 (parts-only vehicles)

$70.00 + GST and QST for vehicles entering through a border crossing inQuebec

$70.00 + GST/HST for vehicles entering through a border crossing in any other province


Vehicles exempt from RIV – You are exempt from the registering with RIV and paying this fee but still need a Form 1 (vehicle import form) if:


  • Vehicles that are older than 15 years and Buses manufactured before January 1st 1971.
  • Vehicles imported temporarily e.g. in-transit, visitors less than 12 months, those here on study permit, those here on a work permit valid for 36 months or less.
  • Vehicles imported for exhibition, demonstration, testing or evaluation.
  • Diplomats – on approval by the department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
  • Visiting forces personnel for the duration of their assignment.
  • Vehicles entering temporarily for repairs or alteration i.e. warranty
  • Work vehicles – defined as one used primarily for civil engineering construction and maintenance, that is not built on a truck or truck-type chassis. This does not include a tractor or any vehicle designed to be drawn behind another vehicle. Agricultural units and equipment (e.g., farm tractors and manure spreaders) are not considered vehicles for TransportCanadapurposes and are not subject to a Transport Canada import requirement.


Vehicles that don’t require a Form 1 – only the following:

  • Authorized importers- Companies Authorized by TransportCanadato Import New Vehicles Manufactured for the Canadian Market
  • Short-term visitors toCanada
  • Agricultural units/equipment, unless required by the province
  • Vehicles in-transit
  • Low risk importer under the Cold Weather Testing Program
  • Vehicles temporarily imported for shows or entertainment.

  1. Once you know what the costs are for importing your car/vehicle, and you still want to go ahead with it. Make your arrangements with the seller to pick up the car or hire a company (there are many online) to pick up your vehicle and ship it up here in bond to a bonded warehouse closer to you where you live in Canada.


  1. If you choose to drive it up you are supposed to notify US Customs by fax 72 hours in advance that you will be exporting the vehicle. Then when you cross the border you will have to stop in at US Customs where they will look the vehicle over and notate that it is being exported. Go here to find the contact information for the US Customs Border crossing you will using http://www.riv.ca/USCustoms.aspx


Once on the Canadian side, inform Customs that you are importing a vehicle and they will send you into the office to complete the paperwork (Form 1 vehicle import form if necessary) and pay all the fees and taxes except the PST. This will be paid at your provincial ministry of transportation.


Make sure you have your ID, Original title signed over to you, and bill of sale or letter from the seller stating the price you paid. Note that if Customs is not satisfied that the value you paid is reasonable they are given the discretion to use the Canadian Red book value.


  1. If your vehicle had to enter the RIV program you will be sent a document called a Form 2 and within 45 days you must take the vehicle to an authorized RIV inspection centre. Your vehicle will need to be possibly modified and deemed compliant with Canadian Safety Standards. Here you can search for the closest inspection centre to you. http://www.riv.ca/RIVInspection.aspx


  1. Once the inspection is done you can go to your local ministry of transportation with your Form 1, bill of sale, proof of insurance and original title. After you pay the PST you will be able to plate the vehicle. And now you can enjoy your new vehicle!


If you have any questions pls post in the FORUM here http://www.canadacustomsinfo.com/forum/and

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Importing a Vehicle to Canada from the US?

I found this website www.importvehicletocanada.com and the info looks quite up to date.

I would like to add a few things

-Vehicles being imported to Canada from the US should be declared and the RIV Form 1should be completed at the port of entry. I.e. if you cross at Fort Erie you should do all the paperwork and pay any duties and taxes applicable.

-If for whatever reason you end up having to do the paperwork at an inland commercial office be ready to explain why the above situation did not happen and that your vehicle can be seized for non-report if Customs believes that you did not make a true declaration at the time of your vehicle entering Canada.

-Vehicles not driven in but transported into Canada by a bonded carrier to a bonded warehouse may complete the RIV Form 1 at the local CBSA office responsible for that warehouse. i.e. car brought up on a trailer by highway, car shipped in a marine container and then sent by rail inland.

-the process is different for New Commercial vehicle imports. To import vehicles commercially you need authorization from Transport Canada who ensure your vehicle is up to Canadian standards.

-Vehicles from other countries than the USA are inadmissible to Canada unless they are at least 15 years old or were manufactured according to north american standards and specifications. You will have to prove this with either a statement from the manufacturer or by customs verifying that your vehicle has the standards stamp/seal on the vehicle. (usually located on the inside of your vehicle door jam.

-Vehicles previously registered in Canada and then shipped overseas and returning do not have to pay duties or taxes, but be prepared to present the original bill of sale or previous canadian ownership. If you have lost both of these then contact the dealership and ask for a letter from them proving that you purchased the vehicle from them.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask.