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Importing Canadian Vehicles to the U.S.

Has anyone purchased a passenger vehicle in Canada and declared and brought the vehicle into the USA? I wanted to know what are the important customs, duties, sales tax considerations, etc to be aware of? Are sales tax paid in Canada refundable? Are there sales tax payable in the state in which you bring it into? Do the laws differ from state to state? Are there any custom and/or duties due and at what rate? Are the standard emission and safety differences to be aware of? Any answers to the above questions and any other considerations I should be aware of is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Comments

  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    Unless you have a Canadian address you'll probably have some trouble doing this. There is a huge controversy over exporting right now. With Ford anyway, if they find the vehicle registerd in the US less than 6 months after it was purchased in Canada, they will charge back any profit the dealer made plus penalties. The buyers name goes on a "known exporters" list and they will be banned from purchasing another Ford vehicle. We turn away people every week because they show up on this list.

    It's gotten so bad with Super Duty trucks that we cannot sell one for cash because of the likelihood that it will exported.
  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    I have a place on the US Canada border.
    In Alexandria Bay NY.
    There is a used car dealer across the
    street. He has a BUNCH of late model
    cars and trucks imported from Canada.
    All have the km spedos in them.
    The guy sez they have no problems bringing
    them back to the US. At 42% plus exchange
    rate they are a good deal here.
    Its funny because some dealers up here
    advertise that they won't buy those cars
    and only have US ones............
    My bud just bought a ford xcab 4x4 for
    a lot less than a US model.........Geo
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    For used it's no problem. New vehicles is where it might get tricky.
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    My wonderful Vauxhalls all came from Canada, but then importing an antique is much easier :)

    As far as used cars go.. heck, Jaguar Credit often sends Canadian Lease returns HERE to FL to auction off!

    I've bought a lot of used cars from Canada and they can be an awesome deal with our exchange rate.

    New though, that is tough. Some Mfrs will also cancel your warranty (Honda) and some dont care (Nissan)

    Bill
  • I seems with the exchange rate, that the savings would be considerable. Is it possible to purchase and import a new vehicle from a dealer? Has anyone done this that can point me to a dealer in either the Montreal or Toronto areas? Thanks.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,571
    ...can someone up there in Canada buy an Intrepid R/T, run it around for a few months, and then sell it to me? ;-) A Sebring 'vert would make an acceptable substitute, too!
  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    Shannyb -
    A guy with the handle lofquist knows a lot about buying Nissans in Canada. Apparently, Nissan is much nicer than some other companies about allowing export to the US - no warranty problems, etc. Lofquist is generally active posting in the Pathfinder and Maxima groups.

    -Jason
  • what about the ca emissions that many states require?
  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    I have a place along the US Canadian border.
    In northern NY
    A used car dealer across the street has a
    bunch of late model cars and trucks brought
    down from Canada.
    My bud bought a 99 ford truck from them. He
    had a couple of warranty issues. Local ford
    dealer took care of them...No problem just
    pay the deductible,,,,,,,,,,,,,Geo
    BTW it still has the km speedo too
  • My kid sister recently became a Canadian bride. A newly aquired in-law owns a dealership. I am in the new car market and know the Honda CRV's are substantially less up there. So I had her inquire.
    The short version of it is...barely worth it after duty tax, NYS sales tax etc. for the buyer and absolutely not something a dealer would risk. Seems any dealer who knowingly sells a new car destined for the U. S. will receive a heavy fine...up to 25K.
    Now I know. I knew it couldn't be easy as I grew up in Northern New York and I'd not heard of people going to Canada for cars. Beer and fire crackers yes....but not cars.
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    warning all Canadian Ford dealers to not sell directly or indirectly any vehicles, especially the 2002 Thunderbird destined for the U.S.

    "Dealerships identified with unauthorized export sales of the 2002 Thunderbird will, at a minimum, forfeit all future allocations of these vehicles."
  • Anyone had any experience in buying a new or used BMW in Canada. I am planning to buy a new or late model used 3 series conv. and have had trouble finding the right car in the right color in WA.

    Thanks!
  • mstsscmstssc Posts: 89
    My how times have changed. I remember when everyone wanted to go to the US and import cars to Canada as cars, as most things, were cheaper. Everyone thought the FTA would be great as duties were to be gradually phased out.
  • If you've bought a car in Canada and imported it into the US, please answer a few questions for me. I'm planning on purchasing a Pathfinder ($34000 CDN) and driving it home to Louisiana.

    My questions are:
    1. When I buy the car in Canada, will they issue me some sort of temporary license plate (like US dealers do) so I can drive it home?
    2. What duty rate did you pay at the border?

    Thanks in advance.
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    I would do a little more investigating if I were you. I don't know about Nissan but if you tried to buy a Ford to take back to the US I'd have to send you packing. Once the car was registered in the US Ford would charge me back any profit I made plus penalize the dealership. Are you not able to find this vehicle in the US or do you expect to save a lot on the exchange rate or what?
  • I've ben told that Nissan IS different on this. People are saving several thousand (like $4 to 5 K) on the exchange rate, which is a significant incentive to buy a car with a km speedometer.
  • ...have emissions testing. Do the Canadian vehicles have US EPA stickers on them?

    If not, I could imagine there would be areas where this could be a major problem.

    TB
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    Good luck reselling it.

    I have some customers with a 98 Corolla that's a Canadian unit.

    No wholesaler wants it (Its in KMs.. title, odo..etc..) and I can't take it to the auction unless I run it TMU

    Bill
  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    I own a motel in NY on the US CANADA border.
    The used car dealer across the street has
    MANY late model Canadian cars and trucks
    at very reasonable prices(around 42% or so exchange rate).
    Most if not all Canadian cars meet USA federal EPA emissions........Some have km spedos some have them
    changed out and there is a import cert. on the title
    and a sticker on door jamb from the importer also.....Geo
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    Great...

    They want a 98 Corolla with 147K KMs? :))
  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    If its clean and rust free....send it to
    Syracuse NY....They go for CRAZY money
    up here...Remember my post in real world
    trade values ? 3 guys ready to brawl over
    that 90 crx my friend brought up from Fla.
    with 125k miles on it............Geo

    BTW: Send up a few late model GM full
    size xcab 4x4s too...Crazy money too!!!
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Posts: 398
    brentwoodvolvo: New though, that is tough. Some Mfrs will also cancel your warranty (Honda) and some dont care (Nissan)

    I researched this a little and found the same thing: Nissan/Infiniti don't care if you import a car to the US, while Acura/Honda will not honor the warranty.

    I also think that most manufacturers, including Honda, will honor the warranty if you can prove that you did really live in Canada and then moved to the USA, rather than simply go to Canada to buy a vehicle for less money with the intention of importing it into the USA.

    Oh, and yes, the duty is negligible, Canadian tax refundable, you need to pay state tax though, and emissions are the same for all new vehicles.

    You can conceivably save 5K on a 25K car. It depends a lot on the car. There is less of a difference for some cars. Actually there is very little difference on some high end cars, e.g. Porsche 911.
  • the key is built in Japan vehicles. The US puts a 16% tariff(i've been told?)on japanese imports. Canada's tariff is only 6%. Factor in the weakness of the canadian dollar and that is why they are cheaper in Canada. On a forty thousand dollar Canadian vehicle a US buyer after tax rebate can save approximately $7,000 US dollars. Hope this helps.
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ...... Nothing personal for our northern neighbors.

    But, Canadian vehicles go for a lot less, because they are worth a lot less..

    It has nothing to do with the workmanship or nothing like that. Honda will not honor the warranty work. Some GM dealers will give you a hassle, VW won't warranty the work, etc.. etc...

    Anything with "real klicks", is considered (as Bill has pointed out) .."TMU".. at any auctions or if it's a tradin-in -- whether it's NY, NJ or New Mexico.

    2 Canadian TBirds, just ran through the auctions for $35,000 (American) ... that's a Ford deal, with the limited production. The Escapes will get warranty but when you change from Km to us, it drops the price by $3/$4,000++ depending on the vehicle ....

    I love Canada, I have been to Vancouver a bunch of times... but, this hoopla is a Canadian/US labor dispute. And as long as it stays that way, the Canadian vehicles when traded are still all TMU, whether the vehicle has 5,000 miles or $50,000 -- So, when you think you just saved $5,000, you just lost it.

    Hey, I'm going to Toronto next month .. Don't shoot the messenger. ..l.o.l....

    Terry.
  • lofquistlofquist Posts: 281
    txx3ddq442,
    I bought my Pathfinder in Canada a year ago and since then I know of over 60 others who have done the same thing. It's not difficult at all to save $4000 over US prices (even more on some other models). Email me and I'll send off all the info. See the Pathfinder forum - there are dozens of posts on this topic.

    For others... The vehicles in Canada are less than in the US because the US dollar is so strong. They are the exact same models as in the US and pass all US emissions and safety requirements. The importing is actually very easy. Years ago it was not possible - now it's done all the time. The sales tax you pay in Canada is refunded by mail when you get home. The duty at the border is a piddling 2.5%.

    However Nissan (and Infiniti) is one of the only manufacturers left that's allowing their Canadian dealers to sell to US customers. And the warranty is honored at all US dealers. As usual, I'm willing to help anyone out who wants help or information. Just drop me a note.

    -Jon
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ....... You will be writing a .. whole different story when you go to trade that Pathfinder in .. you and the other 60 people you are "trying" to help.

    I'm sure you have very good intentions .... but, I guess sometimes you have to burn your hands first to find out ...

    Good luck ...

    Terry.
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    What about the metric instruments, daytime running lights, and block heaters, not to mention that Canadian option packages and even model designations are often quite different than on their US counterparts.
  • gerapaugerapau Posts: 211
    rroyce10: Terry, I know for a fact that many Canadian leasing companies have been taking their lease returns to the US auctions to sell. I doubt that they would be doing this if they were going to take a hugh loss like you say. Sure they may lose a little but not that much. When you consider that a new Altima 3.5 SE with everything except wood trim and HID headlights goes for about US$28,770 in the US while the same car goes for about CA$32,798 (or about US$20,550 with todays exchange rate) in Canada, it doesn't take long to realize that you could save a bundle if you bought the car in Canada. Now not all cars are that much cheaper in Canada but Nissans do tend to be much cheaper north of the boarder.

    landru2: Sure, there are some differences between models sold in the US and models sold in Canada, but most models are usually similar. Metric instruments can be replaced, daytime running lights are slowly becomming standard on all cars sold in the US also, and I doubt very much that the fact that a block heater is installed in a car will mean much to most buyers.

    lofquist: The difference in prices between the two countries has to do with more then just the exchange rate. It has to do more with what the different markets will support. If the Altima cost almost CA$46,000 (the American price converted into Canadian dollars using todays exchange rate) in Canada then no one would buy it. It is as simple as that. Sure, there are other factors involved (such as tariffs, as Infinitiseller mentioned, however this would not explain the difference in prices of the American built Altima) but the main reason for the difference is the different markets.
  • lofquistlofquist Posts: 281
    gerapau:
    Yes, you are exactly right - it's not just all the exchange rate. I do understand how all these other items factor in. I was just too lazy to type it all like you did. Thanks.

    rroyce10:
    I will respectfully disagree with you on any impact at trade-in or resale (even after understanding you are in the business). After you change the speedo, you cannot differentiate between the US and Canadian models. The odo is set to the proper number of miles so TMU (true mileage unknown) does not play. It's just like if a defective odo was replaced. I checked with the DMV. But I'm willing to listen to any other comments. Do tell us what you see at the Toronto auctions when you go next month. I don't hear about much importing from there by dealers at all.

    The other differences are absolutely minor. The US emissions sticker is even under the hood. As gerapau says, the Seattle market is full of used cars from Canada. It's just plain good business and economics. How can you resist doing it yourself and saving $4000 - $7000?

    -Jon
  • Belong to a business which is active in the business of exporting I can assure you that Canadian spec vehicles exceed all US emission controls inc California,they all meet DOT requirements as well. The auctions in Canada are full of US buyers,they probably buy 50% of all the Big Three lease returns forcing prices up in Canada. At the Seattle Auto Auction,a gentleman from Canada is the 4th largest seller of vehicles. Where do you think he gets them. All they need is a factory speedo change. Canadian vehicles typically have lower mileage also. We don't drive as much. (we use dog sleds and ski-doos half the year)HA HA.
  • gerapaugerapau Posts: 211
    rroyce10: In a recent post you stated "Honda will not honor the warranty work. Some GM dealers will give you a hassle, VW won't warranty the work, etc.. etc...". Are you sure about this? I know that if a Canadian buys a Honda, GM, or VW and has any problems while driving through the U.S. the manufacturer's warranties will be honored at any of the manufacturer's dealerships. A friend of mine (an owner of a Chrysler dealer here in Canada) tells me that if he sells to an American that the original warranty WILL be honored in the U.S. at any Chrysler dealership no questions asked(my friend, on the other hand, will be fined heavily by Chrysler.)
  • prayerforprayerfor Posts: 161
    I've checked into this situation and here's what I've learned:

    On the vehicle I'm looking to purchase, a 2002 Nissan Maxima, the savings I could realize from importing from Canada would be a minimum of $3500, and perhaps as much as $5000. With the options I'd want the US invoice is ~$27500 USD. I know of folks that have purchased the same vehicle, with identical specs, in Canada for $36000 CAD (~$22500 USD). Let's say duties and transportation come to $1000 USD. That's a net savings of $4000. I could save even more if I got the price down from $36000 (that represents ~$1800 over invoice), or if I could get there and back for less.

    Now, if I plan to keep the car forever, such that resale value is a moot point, that's basically the end of the story.

    However, if instead I try to sell it in, say, 5 years, the questions to ask are 1) how much is it to convert the gauges, such that the car is indistinguishable from US versions (my conservative guess is <$500); 2) can I do so without being branded TMU (my guess is "yes, no problem"); and 3) how much less would the car sell for if I left the gauges unchanged (I'd almost certainly need to seek a private buyer, and at a discount ($1K? $2K?) off the going rate of, say, $12000 for 5-Yr Old Max's).

    Given all the above considerations, it seems pretty much inconceivable that I'd lose MORE than the ~$4000 I saved originally (which, incidentally, I invested and is now worth ~$5600 @ 7% ROR).

    Terry, your point is well taken though -- I've never actually tried this, so who knows what unpleasant realities might await. Also, as has been mentioned, this works great for Nissans, but other manufacturers go to great lengths to put up barriers to this sort of transaction.

    Dave
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ....... I'm not disagreeing that there is Canadian vehicles sold in the States.. because they are.

    And this is not any type of Canadian bashing .. Me personally, I could care less .. IF, the market warranted it.

    But the reality is ... the nice folks in Seattle and Tacoma, when or if they try to trade that vehicle in SF, New Orleans, Boston, Miami, will or are, in a state of shock.

    When you convert the mileage, the title will show TMU ... Carfax will show TMU, the service records will show TMU.

    There is enough problems with a 2 yr old Lexus, BMW, VW, Chevy etc, etc (that's a Stateside).. that if the Odo bust's and they re-new it, the new miles start at -0- . The Federal stamp in the door, from the manufacturer that shows the time, the day, the Tech who did it, is on a worldwide computer system from the manufacturer, those vehicle themselves are hard to sell.

    I probably go to 6/8 auctions a month, from Florida to N. York and I see Canadians all the time, but each and everyone sell (depending on the vehicle) for $2/$3/$4,000+ less.

    When a dealer has to "try" to explain away the "mile" discretpency it turns customers Cooold. But, if they can buy it for, let's say $4,000 less than the one next to it ... and they can prove all the facts, which is time consuming and then try to prove that the re-sale is just super (when they are buying it for much less) .. it's hard to get the consumers faith.

    Hey, then when you get into the warranty issue ... woooof, that can kill it in 5 seconds.

    I understand that one of the "Human" trait's is greed. I understand that most of the dealers selling the vehicles across the border are making $1,0/$1,5/$2,000 more than if they sold them on their own turf .. Hey, it's business.

    The only point is ..... I have been done this road in 88/89 .. 92/93, and when the smoked all cleared, there was just a couple of thousand buyers who couldn't get the warranty and got killed at trade time.

    I feel, the Manufacturers and both Govt's should address this. I really don't feel that they are both on the same page --- and until they are, the consumer takes it in the "you know what" ...again..!

    I hope this makes sense ...

    Terry.
  • lofquist,

    I can't seem to get your e-mail address. Can you e-mail my profile about the ins and outs of this process. I'm going to get an Altima in Montreal if I can
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    Not a big deal, but all the labels on the car will likely be in French.
  • lofquistlofquist Posts: 281
    shoeless2,
    Yeah every once in a while someone says they can't get my address out of the Edmunds db. I'll just start adding it as a tagline. Email is [email protected] (don't shoot me for the 'aol', - it's a long story). :-)

    But a couple comments. Nissan is not currently letting the Canadian dealers sell Altimas to the US. At least that's what the dealers I trust are saying. Too hot a vehicle. Maybe a little later. It's ok for Pathfinders, Maximas, QX4s, I35's, Q45's. On all of those you'll find selling prices are way under US dealer invoice. As much as $5600 at my last look.

    Also Quebec is the only Canadian province that charges you the provincial sales tax, but then won't refund it. For example, Ontario refunds it, and BC won't charge you at all as a non-resident. Toronto is the hot spot for the best prices in the 'east', Vancouver in the 'west'. The exchange rate hit a new al-time high last week. So much the better for us!

    -Jon
    [email protected]
  • lameslames Posts: 14
    I don't know how this would play, but my brother bought a pathfinder in Canada, and is looking now at a Toyota Sequoia. The Dealer up there said no problem. For an additional $750 or $800 they would meet him south of the border, in the USA, and change out the Speedo for him. So from day one the car would be in miles, not kilometers. The savings due to the exchange rate is something like $5,000.

    So if the car is delivered with a speedo showing miles, how is he going to get hit with a TMU loss?

    Also if a certified shop changes out the speedometer why would the car be hit with TMU lable?
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ..... It's been titled, and the klicks will show.

    Terry.
  • prayerforprayerfor Posts: 161
    You seem to be saying that it's impossible to convert an odometer from kM to Miles without the car being labeled TMU -- no way, no how.

    I thought the whole reason a repair shop would obtain certification to perform odometer repair/replacement is that so they could do their work WITHOUT rendering a car TMU. Otherwise what good is the certification, right?

    What am I missing here?
  • lameslames Posts: 14
    Terry,

    I don't get it. The dealer is going to install the speedo with miles, so from the get go the car will be in miles. How will that show klicks?

    Just because you keep saying the same thing over and over again does not mean it is correct. Given that all 50 states have differet rules for vehicle titles I don't see how you can universally claim all cars from Canada will be branded TMU.
  • lames you make a valuable point: each state has its own set of rules regarding what constitutes TMU and what doesn't. Terry's suggestion that any odo work whatsoever will cause a car to ring up TMU may in fact be correct in some states, but clearly that's not the case in all states.

    I called the DMV here in Wisconsin and found out the conversion from kM to Miles can be performed by a certified shop (they gave me a list) without negatively affecting the car's title. I figured best to get it straight from the horse's mouth...
  • Assume a Canadian vehicle is titled in the USA without being labeled as TMU, it appears that the warranty is the only snag. If I could get a guarantee that the warranty will be honored, I think that buying in Canada is the thing to do, especially since from what I've seen option packages are more to my liking north of the border. Hmm...
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ....... There is a lot of qualified Techs that can and will change it over ...

    See, the problem happens when you go to trade it ...

    The original paper work will show, let's say ..168 kilometers (I'm not good at this conversion stuff) ... then the following paper work will start at -0-. The question that always arises is -- when was this .. who did it .. how long til this took place, etc.

    Customers get reeaaallly hinky about this point -- then you have to try to explain it away. By that time, they are either lookin' at the vehicle 3 rows down ..or, there at the dealership across the street.

    I have shipped a lot of vehicles to Wisconsin, no way, no how, does a legitimate dealer want the "brain damage" that goes on with a flock of "Canadian pigeons" as they call em.

    Terry.
  • Terry --

    What *paperwork* are you referring to? I thought the only document you need to trade in a car (or sell it privately) is the title. If the odometer conversion is done properly the title will indicate miles are actual, with no mention of anything else.

    Also, the point of having the odo recalibrated professionally is to have it reset to the equivalent # of miles, NOT to -0-.

    Please walk me through the scene at the dealership at trade-in time. I show up with my car (which has been reading in miles and MPH since it was a week old), and my clean title. And then...?
  • Good point about warranty coverage. Naturally, each manufacturer has their own policy regarding importing from Canada, and some are more friendly than others. The make I'm interested in, Nissan, makes the process very easy and there are no warranty issues with them. Nissan warranties cover anywhere in North America. I've heard the same is true of Subaru but I'm not 100% certain.

    Honda/Acura, on the other hand, will void your warrranty if you buy in Canada and title in the US -- this is their way of trying to discourage this.

    Ford also discourages the movement of their new vehicles across the border, although they do so by punishing the dealers that sell to US buyers by revoking their profit from the sale, and in some cases reducing or eliminating the dealer's allocation of *hot* vehicles like the T-bird.

    I'd suggest contacting the corporate HQ of the manufacturer you're interested in to get the lowdown on that particular maker's policy. You could also try calling a high-volume dealer in a place like Toronto, or a dealer in a border city... they should know what's up too.
  • dustidusti Posts: 36
    if the buyer saves 5-6 k on the initial purchase..
    .

    EVEN if the vehicle is worth UP TO 5-6 k less on the US market in say 3/4 yrs...

    In the meantime he can invest the difference over the 3-4 year span (that's his/her savings)

    OR

    drive it until the wheels come off rendering meaningless the difference since the vehicle is no longer even worth 5-6 k

    Either way he/she makes out like a bandit.
  • jaclazjaclaz Posts: 37
    Hi all,

    Jack here, I'm in Victoria, BC spending the winter. Truly beautiful here.

    I went to the boat show last weekend in Vancouver and the prices were firesale on some bargains if you take into account the exchange differential. It's funny how some manufacturers price with the exchange rate and others don't. Meaning just like the cars, some have a dollar for dollar relationship while others are priced to the market.

    Anyway, happy motoring, happy cycling, happy boating, etc.
  • I just spoke to the Corporate Headquarters of American Honda Motor Co.
    wich is located in Torrance California (no local car dealer in New York State had any reasonable answer).

    I was told that a car purchased in Canada by a US resident is considered a "grey" market vehicle therefore voiding all warrentees.

    Now, even though Honda's are great car's, At 20K+ it'sjust too risky. So I'll either have to buy the current US version
    or wait for 2-3 years for an "SE" CRV
    which will have the accessories the Canadian EX model has now. Bummer.
  • Yep Honda's one manufacturer that will void your warranty. Many others will not, though.
  • dustidusti Posts: 36
    "Grey" market refers to cars bought in foreign countries that, while cheaper, have to be modified to be legal in the States.

    Exact same cars are sold in Canada as in the States. No modifications required. Totally street legal. So what if the large print on the speedo is in kilometers. US should have gone this route long ago.

    Manufacturers may not like it. Dealers may not like it. But this trade dispute is a windfall for the American public.

    How do the manufacturers make money on these cars anyway? They have an extra 5-6k of hidden profit they can do without?

    More likely they are just bleeding off extra inventory and most definitely DO NOT want the American public (the market that gives them a PROFIT) to take advantage.

    Honda may SAY it won't honor the warranty, but actually sticking to this is another matter.

    Besides the basic warranty is only good for 32k miles, which for a Honda, is still the burn-in period.
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