A common inquiry that our customs experts field from importers is concerning automobiles. What are the due processes surrounding the import of cars into Canada? What does CBSA expect from importers (+exporters, manufacturers, etc.)? It’s a process that’s not without specific requirements. 

There is now an additional layer of complexity on the process as the pandemic has tweaked the CBSA process. In previous articles on the topic of COVID-19 and importing, we’ve covered some of these changes. 

Please refer to these pieces for recommended reading:

Canada’s Expedited Approvals For Health & Medical Goods: An Overview

Looking at Canadian Trade From The Lense of COVID-19

Canadian Import Control Compliance During the Pandemic

6 Imported Goods Actually Doing Really Well During the Pandemic

COVID-19: Important Information Regarding The Importation Of Medical Supplies

Canadian Imports and Navigating COVID-19: Q&A With Founder & President Adam Lewis

There is one major difference in these times for importing a vehicle into Canada. Below, we’ll be covering the details, so you can stay informed:

The Main Point: Self-Importing is Prohibited

Due to the restrictions surrounding travel for non-essential individuals — in which an individual must employ a government-mandated self-quarantine for 14 days after entering the country — it is not possible to self-import a car.

car import customs broker

Typically, going to pick up a vehicle in another country yourself can save you precious resources (read: time and money), but with the quarantine requirements, it is not possible to do so. Upon entry into Canada, you would be required to comply with governmental guidelines for quarantine.

“I would like to import a car into Canada during this time. What now?”

Working with a customs broker with automobile importing experience is a solid option for those looking to bring a car into Canada. Custom brokers can act on behalf of an importer, making the paperwork, regulatory requirements, and transactional elements of importing a car a simple process.

In fact, while self-importing has been a common, money-saving tactic for some importers in the past, failing to comply with various CBSA requirements — or misunderstanding the duties and tax requirements — can end up being quite costly! CBSA doesn’t take too kindly to missteps, and will often implement hefty non-compliance fines. In some cases, this can even result in an unfortunate seizure of the shipment.

As such, working with a broker can not only save you time and energy, but also money overall. And reducing your risk for such a large purchase is probably ideal!

“What should I look for in a customs broker for importing a car into Canada?” 

Ensure that the customs broker fee includes these various elements before working with them: 

  • AES/ITN Number
  • Submission to Automotive Export Control (72 hour notice)
  • Agent on site at time of crossing
  • Preparation of Customs release
  • Remittance of Duties & Taxes to Canada Customs
  • Coordination of border crossing
  • Complete Customs Accounting Documentation

Before making the purchase of a car that you must import, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • How will the Canadian exchange rate impact the purchase? 
  • Does the vehicle meet the Canadian government standards for safety?
  • What are the import duties and taxes that must be paid on the car? (You can refer to our car importing calculator here)


There are various reasons to team up with a customs broker. And in these times, it’s not worth taking the change on your import. If you are looking to import a car into Canada, connect with a customs broker beforehand to start a 0-commitment conversation.