Importing vehicles between the United States and Canada entails navigating a complex process fraught with regulations, documentation requirements, and financial considerations. Whether you’re a Canadian importer or a U.S. exporter, the endeavor demands meticulous attention to detail and adherence to various guidelines.

Transport Canada provides extensive resources covering transportation regulations, safety protocols, and security measures. We’ve consolidated our car import information into five streamlined steps to facilitate the efficient transport of vehicles from the U.S. to Canada:

How To Bring A Car From USA To Canada

1. Ensure Vehicle Admissibility into Canada:

Before initiating the transportation process, it’s imperative to verify that the vehicle meets the criteria established by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Transport Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Failure to comply with these guidelines can result in costly setbacks.

2. Meet Clearance Documentation Requirements:

Thorough documentation is essential for a smooth transition across borders. Ensuring compliance with both U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and CBSA regulations is paramount. This includes providing documents such as the original title, bill of sale, and any necessary recall clearance letters or NAFTA certificates.

3. File AES Before Giving 72-Hour Export Notice:

In compliance with U.S. Census Bureau regulations, a 72-hour export notice must be given, accompanied by an Automated Export System (AES) filing. This process, typically handled by a U.S. entity, requires the submission of relevant seller information and the issuance of an Internal Transaction Number (ITN) to initiate the export process.

4. Submit Required Documents to CBP 72 Hours Prior to Export:

With the necessary documentation in hand, it’s crucial to submit these materials to CBP at least 72 hours before the scheduled export. This ensures timely processing and verification of the documents, facilitating a seamless transition at the border.

5. Meet Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Requirements:

Upon arrival in Canada, vehicles must adhere to CFIA guidelines, ensuring they are free from any contaminants or debris that could pose a risk to Canadian agriculture. Compliance with these requirements is essential to avoid delays and potential penalties.

While the process of importing and exporting vehicles between the U.S. and Canada may seem daunting, adhering to these steps can streamline the process and mitigate potential challenges.

In addition to regulatory requirements, importers must also consider the financial implications of importing a vehicle into Canada. Duties, taxes, and fees associated with vehicle importation can significantly impact the overall cost. 

Cost of Importing a Car from Canada to the US

Import Duty

Vehicles manufactured in the United States or Mexico are exempt from import duty under NAFTA. Vehicles manufactured outside the US or Mexico incur a 6.1% import duty based on the vehicle’s value on the bill of sale.

The imposition of import duty hinges significantly on the vehicle’s country of origin, particularly under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provisions. Vehicles manufactured in the United States or Mexico enjoy duty-free entry into Canada, fostering seamless trade relations between these nations. 

This provision not only facilitates economic cooperation but also incentivizes cross-border commerce in the automotive sector. Conversely, vehicles originating from countries outside this trade agreement are subject to a 6.1% import duty based on the vehicle’s declared value. This duty, while designed to protect domestic industries, adds a financial consideration to the import process, impacting the overall cost of bringing a vehicle into Canada.


Imported vehicles are subject to GST, PST, and/or HST, akin to purchasing a new vehicle in Canada. Tax rates vary depending on the province or territory of importation.

The taxation aspect of vehicle imports parallels the levies applied to domestic purchases, ensuring equitable treatment within the Canadian automotive market. Goods and Services Tax (GST) serves as a federal levy, applying uniformly to imported vehicles, regardless of their origin. Complementing this federal tax, Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and/or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) vary depending on the province or territory where the vehicle is registered. 

This regional differentiation reflects Canada’s decentralized taxation system, where provinces retain autonomy over certain fiscal policies. Consequently, individuals importing vehicles must consider these varying tax rates, adding complexity to the import process but ensuring compliance with local tax regulations.

Register of Imported Vehicle (RIV) Fee

A $195 RIV fee applies to all imported vehicles, irrespective of their origin.

The Register of Imported Vehicles (RIV) fee is a standardized charge applicable to all imported vehicles, regardless of their manufacturing origin. This fee supports administrative processes associated with the registration and monitoring of imported vehicles, contributing to regulatory compliance and ensuring vehicle safety standards are met. By imposing this fee uniformly, Canadian authorities streamline the importation process, facilitating efficient customs clearance and vehicle registration procedures.

Air Conditioning Tax

Vehicles equipped with air conditioning are subject to a $100 tax.

The supplementary air conditioning tax underscores environmental and energy considerations within the automotive industry. As air conditioning systems contribute to vehicle energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, this tax incentivizes the adoption of energy-efficient technologies. While the $100 levy may appear nominal, it reflects a broader commitment to sustainability and energy conservation, aligning with Canada’s climate change mitigation goals.

Excess Weight Tax

Vehicles exceeding the specified weight threshold incur an additional tax, reflecting the potential impact of heavier vehicles on infrastructure and environmental sustainability. This tax aims to address concerns related to road congestion, wear and tear, and emissions associated with heavier vehicles. By incentivizing the use of lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles, this tax supports broader transportation policy objectives focused on sustainability and efficiency.

Vehicles exceeding 2,007 kg (4,425 pounds) incur an additional tax.

Tax On Fuel-Inefficient Vehicles

Gas guzzlers face excise taxes ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, primarily applicable to small passenger vehicles.

The excise tax on fuel-inefficient vehicles targets a specific category of automobiles deemed environmentally detrimental. By imposing additional costs on “gas guzzlers,” the government aims to discourage the proliferation of vehicles with high fuel consumption rates, thereby promoting the adoption of greener transportation alternatives. This measure aligns with broader environmental initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change impacts, highlighting Canada’s commitment to sustainable development.

Brokerage Fees

Engaging the services of a customs broker entails additional costs but offers invaluable assistance in navigating the complexities of vehicle importation. Customs brokers like Clearit assume responsibility for facilitating the import process, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements, and expediting customs clearance procedures. The fees charged by brokerage firms reflect the value of their expertise and the convenience they provide to individuals seeking to import vehicles into Canada. While these fees represent an added expense, they often translate into time and cost savings, as brokers leverage their industry knowledge and relationships to streamline the importation process.

Customs brokers facilitate smooth importation processes, managing customs release, border crossing coordination, and document completion. Fees vary; for example, Clearit charges $389.99 for their services.

Despite associated fees, importing a car from the US or another country offers benefits:

  • Lower prices: Exchange rates and larger vehicle markets abroad may result in cost savings.
  • Better selection: Imported vehicles can include classic, vintage, luxury, and specialty cars not available in Canada.

Benefits of importing a car from the US to Canada

Importing vehicles offers several benefits, including lower prices and access to a wider selection of vehicles not available domestically. Whether seeking cost savings or unique vehicle options, importing from the U.S. or other countries can be a viable option for Canadian consumers.

While the process of importing vehicles into Canada involves navigating various regulations and financial considerations, careful planning and adherence to guidelines can facilitate a smooth and successful importation process. To get started on importing a car to Canada, click here.