How to Import Your Dream Car from the U.S. to Canada

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How to Import Your Dream Car from the U.S. to Canada

So you’ve finally found the car of your dreams: the curves, the power, and just the perfect color. But there’s one small problem, the seller is located in the U.S. which means you’ll need to bring the car into Canada, which might sound easy…but it’s a bit more challenging than that.

Importing a vehicle into Canada is regulated by several different government agencies. Transport Canada itself has quite an exhaustive definition for what exactly a “vehicle” is: any means of transportation capable of being driven or drawn on roads, by any means other than muscular power exclusively, but that doesn’t run exclusively on rails. In such a case, Transport Canada’s definition includes not only motor vehicles but also boat trailers, horse, and stock trailers, recreational and camping trailers, as well as any other equipment mounted on rims and tires.

To avoid bad surprises at the border, possible penalties and deceiving delays, we’ve numbered down a few steps to follow in order to get your ride imported to Canada quickly and easily.

import car usa to canada

Admissible and Compliant

Transport Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency all have different requirements for vehicle importation. If your dream rig isn’t admissible and compliant, importing it might be a waste of money.

Your best option is to contact the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV), an agency contracted by Transport Canada whose purpose is to ensure that imported vehicles meet Canada’s safety standards. Getting in touch with the RIV from the start will allow you inquire about their various programs.

You should also know that vehicles titled in the U.S. are permitted provided they are titled in the U.S. or if you have the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin or Certificate of Origin.

Clearance Documents

It goes without saying, and yet some folks might forget, that importing pretty much anything requires paperwork. When it comes to a car, be sure you have the right documents for both the U.S. Customs and Border Protective Agency and the Canadian Border Services Agency.

The documents should include the original title, the Statement / Certificate of Origin, the Bill of sale, Recall clearance letter (U.S. only), NAFTA (only for commercial U.S. imports), export certificates and invoices if the export is located elsewhere than the U.S.

Automated Export System

import cars
Since 2014, an export filing requirement is expected by the US Census Bureau to be filled into the Customs and Border Protection Automated Export System (AES). The AES must be sent in prior to the 72-hour notice and is handled by a U.S. domiciled company: a customs broker, a US Party in Interest or a freight forwarder. Once the AES has been accepted, an Internal Transaction Number will be issued and must accompany the request in order to begin the 72-hour export notice.

72 hours Prior to Export

The US Customs and Border Protection require all documentation at least 72 hours prior to export. The documents required are:

  • Copy of the Bill of Sale
  • Copy of the Vehicle title, Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin
  • In the case where the vehicle doesn’t require a title, the “No Title Required’ addendum must be included.

If your paperwork is in order and accurate, the US Customs and Border Protection will start the export checks which are normally completed within 72 hours.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Requirements

If your vehicle is used for agricultural purposes, moving earth and is used; if it’s a used passenger or recreational vehicle or if it’s a used military equipment – CFIA will ensure that its import requirements are met. The vehicles must also be clean from any soil, earth or plant residue in order to prevent the entry and establishment of injurious plant pest in Canada.

Documentation for CBSA

The CBSA will process the import of the vehicle at the point of entry which allows the importer to declare the good in person when arriving at the point of entry or, the importer can retain the services of an agent to act on their behalf.

Upon arriving at the point of entry, you’ll need the following documentation:

  • The title
  • the Bill of Sale
  • Transport Canada Import Form 1
  • Form B15 (if the vehicle is for personal use), or Form B3 (for commercial use) which allow to an account for any applicable duties and taxes.

RIV Fee

Congratulations, you’ve imported your vehicle into Canada. Now contact the RIV and pay a registration fee of $195 + tax.

There are a few exemptions from the RIV such as importing via commercial importation; non-commercial; a certified Canadian vehicle of origin being returned to Canada; the vehicle is 15 years old or more; the vehicle is being imported for an exhibition, demonstration or a special purpose or, if the vehicle is defined as a work vehicle.

Once verifications are completed, Transport Canada will issue a Form 2 to the Importer once all the dues and fees have been paid.

Welcome to Canada

With the Form 1 and 2 in hand, you must now bring in your vehicle to an approved inspection facility within 45 days of the import. If all goes well, you’ll have your Form 2 stamped which will allow getting your dream car registered at your local licensing office. Bring along the Form 2, bill of Sale, the original title the B3 and B15 forms from CBSA with you.

Keep Your Files

Finally, the last step to your import adventure is to keep in mind that you’ll need to keep all your records for six years.

Importing a vehicle can be a complex process to navigate. Consulting a customs broker can help you simplify the steps and get through the paperwork, inspections, and delays.

Click Here to learn more about how Clearit.ca can help you import a car into Canada.