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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.


  • 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)

  • 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: 23,536
    ...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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

    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....

  • lofquistlofquist Posts: 281
    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.

  • 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 ...

  • 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
    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.

    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?

  • 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.
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