Clearit.ca's Blog on Customs Brokerage and News Updates
The U.S. Census Bureau, which is responsible for America’s foreign trade regulations, has changed the rules for exporting used cars and other self-propelled vehicles to require use of the Automated Export System (AES) to file export information within the 72 hours prior to export. The previously existing requirements to submit the vehicle’s title to Customs at least 72 hours before exportation and present the vehicle itself for inspection are still in effect.
The change became effective on April 5, 2014, and applies to self-propelled agricultural machinery and construction equipment as well as on and off-road vehicles. Those who fail to make an AES filing won’t be penalized during a 180-day informed compliance period that extends until October 2; after that, they’ll face fines of up to $10,000.
Customs brokers aren’t happy with either the fines, which they say are excessive, or the extra paperwork, which they predict will make it considerably more inconvenient for Canadians to buy used American vehicles and bring them home. Many foresee a negative impact on the half-billion dollar cross-border automobile market, which according to Statistics Canada saw Canadians import more than 18,000 vehicles from the U.S. at an average value of over $30,000 in 2013. They also worry that purchased vehicles won’t be allowed out of the U.S. without an AES filing, even before October 2.
AES filings can be made with online with the Census Bureau’s free AESDirect online internet filing system, at a port authority or service center, with proprietary software, or through a Value-Added Network (VAN). Exporters need to provide Electronic Export Information (EEI) identifying themselves, the vehicle they’re exporting, and the recipient. They then receive an an Internal Transaction Number (ITN) which must be given to the Customs and Border Protection Officer who inspects the vehicle at the border.
That may sound simple enough, but an American citizen planning to ship his or her personal car to a Canadian buyer is likely to encounter a snag when AES asks for an ID number: social security numbers became unacceptable to the system in March of 2010. Now a D-U-N-S Number from Dun & Bradstreet or an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS must be used, and most private citizens don’t have either. The IRS does have an online application that promises to deliver an EIN “immediately upon completion”, but some sellers may not want to bother, so prospective purchasers in Canada are advised to clarify the matter before transferring any money.
A Canadian who travels to the U.S. and buys a vehicle to bring back north won’t have this problem, because AES does accept a foreign passport number if the foreigner was in the U.S. when the vehicle was purchased. However, it’s important to note that in this situation the Canadian buyer, not the American seller, is considered to be the exporter, and is therefore responsible for the AES filing.
Of course, Canada has regulations of its own on importing vehicles purchased in the U.S. For help on the Canadian side of the border, call the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at 1 (800) 461-9999. The Registrar of Imported Vehicles and Transport Canada also have a lot of useful information on their websites.