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Importing Canadian Vehicles to the U.S.



  • jamjetjamjet Posts: 1
    Do I need a letter of compliance to bring a U.S. made vehicle purchased in Canada to bring back into the U.S?
    The car, a 1970 Dodge Challenger was originally purchased in the U.S and brought into now it is being purchased in Canada and being returned to the U.S.

    How do I do the registration? Can the registration be transferred without going to DMV in Canada?
    If so and I planning on driving it across the border into Detroit to be shipped to Arizona...what do I do about registration and license?

    What is the process I have to go through to cross the border?
    Thank you for the help
  • arlo2arlo2 Posts: 1
    edited April 2012
    Here's a scenario to ponder: Friends drive to US from Canada 15 years ago in an 85 VW double cab truck on a brief visit. When down here, the engine blows up. As the vehicle can't be driven and had other issues, he sells it to a Volkswagen buff not far away and mailed the title and a bill of sale a couple weeks later. The truck was parked in a barn and its still there to this day, 15 years later. Never fixed up. It's in need of some rust repair, and the engine needs replacement before it can be driven. Here's the question: how does one take this through US customs after 15 years?? Of course, the engine has to be replaced first, and the gas tank cleaned, but afterward can't be driven as it has no license plates or US title. Can anything be done to put this cool old truck back on the road again? How can this old truck legally be titled and put into use again here in the USA?
  • schnizzleschnizzle Posts: 2

    I am also trying to import my Hyundai Tucson in to the U.S., did you ever manage to bring it in to the U.S. successfully? I have the Hyundai Canada letter with CMVSS standards, did you have to obtain anything else?

  • schnizzleschnizzle Posts: 2
    Hello, I'm trying to import my Canadian Manufactured 2009 Hyundai Tuscon into the U.S. I have the letter from Hyundai Canada CMVSS indicating that it meets all CANADIAN requirements and has not had any recalls. Is this sufficient for the people at the border crossing or will I need other documents? You mentioned you obtained a document from American Honda, would I need to do the same with my Hyundai (obtain a letter from Hyundai in the U.S.) ?

    thanks for your help.
  • jonmarjonmar Posts: 1
    Do you still have the brokers name that you used? I have the same problem as you did.

  • drinkthisdrinkthis Posts: 3
    edited May 2012
    I am in the process of doing the same thing. Vehicle manufactured and originally titled/registered in US for many years. Was imported to Canada and then offered for sale. I (US citizen) bought it on ebay and now need to import back to US at the Ambassador Bridge near Detroit. I called US customs there twice and received two answers:
    Answer #1: Obtain a letter addressed to me from the vehicle mfr (Toyota) stating compliance with EPA emission regulations. This person was a bit nasty and even said something that was untrue: That the vehicle could receive an EPA emission test at a Toyota dealership in Ontario.
    Answer #2: If the vehicle has two stickers, one from DOT (on door pillar) and one from EPA (on underside of hood), then no problem to re-import. This person was fairly friendly but somewhat authoritative in their tone and asked me intrusive questions. He also said he was too busy when I asked for more info.

    I called another POE in Maine and they confirmed that answer #2 was correct. Except in the case where the EPA sticker was not present, then I would need the letter. This person was very friendly and down to earth and seemed sincerely helpful. He also said that this is the current regulation but to check with the specific POE to see if they any other (unnecessary) requirements.

    I've decided to at least try to get #1 satisfied, because you never know who will be waiting at that POE and what kind of info or attitude they have.
  • fsantafefsantafe Posts: 1
    I am the same issue in California for my SantaFe, I appreciate if you give me some insights, i brought the car from Canada and I can't get the letter of compliance from Hyundai USA nor from Canadian one! did you get the car registered already and how?
  • babacolebabacole Posts: 1
    Any luck with the process? I have the same issue and looking for some guidance in getting my SantaFe into the United States and can't get the letter of compliance from Hyundai USA or Canada. Please help.
  • ls11jls11j Posts: 1
    Hi drinkthis,

    Any luck with getting the Compliance Letter from Toyota Canada?
    They just simply refused to provide me that letter and telling me since a few month ago they stopped providing that letter due to their policy changes.
    Please let us know how your process went?

  • jolie4jolie4 Posts: 3
    Regarding the bringing of a original US car that had been imported to Canada back to the US, we just had to do this for a move to FL. I'm not sure that the rules are the same for your state, but because the car was built in the US for the US market, it already complies to US standards - you just have to have the appropriate party in your state verify it. For FL I just had to take the car down to the local FL DOT office that handles the "verification" and get a form filled out. They looked for/at the sticker on the driver door pillar and verified that "yes, it was a US vehicle". The fact that a CDN sticker was also there (from when we moved/imported the car to Canada 10 yrs ago) did not matter. Then I took that verification letter to the Dept of Motor Vehicles with the registration from Canada and registered the car in FL.

    The first answer that you received regarding Customs would be for importing a Canadian vehicle to the US (we have to do THAT, too). You shouldn't have to "import" your vehicle, however, because it is a US vehicle.

    I don't know anything about the EPA stuff, but that seems like it would be for the Canadian built car that you are importing. The car met EPA standards when it was manufactured in the US, so unless something has been done to change it's exhaust, etc., it would still meet the EPA standards for that make, model, year. You shouldn't have to bring it up to current standards...

    just my 2 cents...

    Another aside: when we went to cancel the auto insurance in Canada (BC in this case) we were penalized because I only had a COPY of the original registration. I was supposed to keep the original and FL was supposed to get a copy. I was lucky I asked for a copy at all - the guy in FL was just going to take the original and let me go on my merry way.

    Hope some of this is helpful.
  • jolie4jolie4 Posts: 3
    Short follow-up (I promise!). Found the following on the US customs website:

    "Re-Importing A Previously Exported Vehicle
    A vehicle taken from the United States for non-commercial, private use may be returned duty free by proving to U.S. Customs that it was previously owned and registered in the United States. This proof may be a state-issued registration card for the automobile or a bill of sale for the car from a U.S. dealer. Repairs or accessories acquired abroad for your vehicle must be declared on your return and may be subject to duty."

    Here's the link:
  • jolie4jolie4 Posts: 3
    The letter of compliance has to come from the US division of the manufacturer, NOT the Canadian one. The US division has to verify that the Canadian car meets the US Dept of Trans & EPA requirements.
  • Toyota Canada absolutely refused to provide me with a compliance letter. I had to go through a registered importer (RI) in order to properly import my car in to the usa. Hyundai Canada refused as well.
  • You will have to go through a registered importer to import your Canadian vehicle if the manufacturer wont state compliance with DOT and EPA. The importer will ensure the vehicle complies with the requirements that the Canadian manufacturer will unfortunately not do in a letter.
  • Hi All

    I bought my car in US when I was living there, After 2 years I moved to Canada and now moving agian back to US. What I understood from discussion that according to state( New Hampshire for me) , I need to go to DOT & DMV for registering car in US. Do I have to do any formalities at the US border? If yes, do all port of entries do that ( I will be going from Toronto to Boston side via Buffalo).Any help is appreciated!
    Also my Canadian registration has my old address(does not match to my recent address in Canada) , do I need to get new registration before I import?

    Thanks in advance!
  • CBP will want to see a previous in state registration in order to not charge you duty on the vehicle.

    CBP will get you to fill out two forms basically attesting that your vehicle complies with EPA and DOT standards. They will confirm that your vehicle complies by looking at EPA sticker (likely under your hood) and the DOT plate in your drivers door.

    Good luck
  • I paid the Qebec sales tax on a used car purchased a few months ago in Montreal that I imported to the US; I was told it would be refunded to me. Then I finally got a letter (3 months after filing the paper-work) that refused it. Does anyone know what the law is about here?

  • Hi! I'm buying a used 2003 GMC suv from a NY dealer. The problem is that there is no title, (because it's a Canadian vehicle) that was apparently bought in an auction. I found out that I need to get it cleared through US Customs, along with a bill of sale, insurance and inspection. I was worried that it may not pass an inspection (being a Canadian vehicle) and I'd be stuck not being able to register it ...until I read your post! Can you tell me the name of your broker? Thanks!
  • Hi,

    I just want to follow-up on your posting.

    Your posting was very informative.

    I bought a Range Rover in Texas, designed for the U.S. market and I exported it to Canada.

    I want to bring the car back with me to Florida and sell it in the U.S. and buy something else.

    When I exported the vehicle to Canada, I had to supply U.S. Customs with the Title Paperwork from Texas and they made sure that there were no liens on the vehicle.

    Without the Stamp from U.S. Customs, I could not bring the vehicle into Canada.

    Do I need to get anything from Canada Customs aka Canada Border Services in order to sell my vehicle in the U.S?

    This vehicle although it's made in the UK meets all the U.S. Standards. :)
  • macpuffmacpuff Posts: 1
    edited January 2013
    So my situation is this: I have a friend who lives in Minnesota, who is in the market for a new (used) car. I have the option of purchasing a really good car for a great price here, and the plan was for me to drive the car down and transfer ownership to her, and then fly back after visiting.

    I've been looking for information and I'm getting conflicting reports about what needs to be done.

    I know the car needs to comply with EPA standards and the there is some paperwork to be done at the border, but there are some things I'm not sure of.

    1. Do I need the letter from the OEM's USA Division if the car has the sticker saying it complies with EPA guidelines?

    2. Do I need to go through a registered import broker, even with the sticker or letter from the OEM? The fees for brokers are around $500 from what I gather, add that into the cost of my plane ticket back and it makes the original savings considerably less.

    3. Is there anything else I need to know before attempting this?

    Would appreciate any insight into this issue.
  • I used Stonewell to import 2 vehicles from Canada to the USA they were great to work with.
  • medlowamedlowa Posts: 7
    I did it myself.
    Got the letter from the manufacturer (Chevrolet) cost approx $25.00
    Got a EPA test done, cost approx $9.00
    went to phoenix sky harbor Airport Port Authority, filled in some papers approx 5 minutes.
    Went to the registry, registered all done in a day.

    good luck
  • wassermewasserme Posts: 3
    Thanks! We ended up doing it but found the canadian VW was no help at all--they totally refused to give us a letter; but US VW had no problem with it at all. Any success getting out of Canadian sales taxes? We were told we would get it back and then when we applied they said "that's only for Canadian residents"
  • I purchased my infiniti in Michigan and registered in NY where I reside in 2010. Shortly after that I moved to Vancouver BC for a 2 year assignment and while there I had to register my car with the CIBC. They made me surrender my title and gave me the impression that they would return it upon my departure but I found out that it wasn't true when I repatriated back to the US in 2012. I was told that the BC registration should serve as my proof of ownership and I also have an official letter from the CIBC stating that the registration is to serve as my title.

    I filed for a title when I returned to the US and shortly after received a letter from the NYS DMV stating that they need other paperwork besides the ones I gave them (Copy of my original title, BC registration/title, letter from CIBC). They also asked for various customs forms.

    I called the company that drove the tralier back with all my goods and my car and they're claiming that they never received any customs paper work and customs is claiming that they gave all the paper work to the driver.

    Now I've been driving around in a car for almost a year with no title and someone suggested that I can drive over the border, I live in Buffalo, and clear my car through customs and turn that in to the DMV. I was wondering if some can shed light on what's involved here as from all I am reading customs is looking for an original title or proof of ownership from the foreign DMV. My BC registration is with NYS DMV so should I try and get it back so that I can reclear my car?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated as this whole thing has turned in to a big mess.
  • Hi Medlowa,

    I would GREATLY APPRECIATE some clarification on your easy registration.

    1) You registered the car in the States without needing to import it? - or was what you did the importation process?
    2) You didn't need to go all the way back to the "other side" of a POE?
    3) Was Visa an issue ? -or you're American ?

    My Situation:
    My car is made in Alabama to both US and Canadian standards (2011 Hynundai Sonatta), I'm in California, and I've been here for more than a year already with my ONtario plates on a TN visa. My sticker is expiring soon, and I'm STUCK - wondering if I'll have to take it back to Ontario.


  • How do I register a car in the US that was imported from Canada but was never cleared? I bought a 2002 Toyota Celica from a woman that brought it here from Canada problem is I don't have any of the EPA forms or anything and the title and everything is in here name. She isn't answering my call anymore and will not return any of my calls! I have the signed title and everything but I read somewhere that my car could be seized because of this?? Is there anything I can do to register it and how much will it cost? I only bought is for 2500 if that helps. I live in NY but she is in CT some where. Please any help would be appreciated!
  • I think you're a bit screwed here; no state will allow you to register it but she illegally imported it and sold it. You may need to take her to small claims or contact border patrol and have them go after her. They take this stuff very very seriously (and small claims is really annoying) so I would get in touch with US border patrol.
  • Hi I need to do the very same thing as Medlowa. Need to import a chevy camaro from Canada to the US and need the safety compliance letter. Anyone have a number to call or a web address to go to for this? I have had someone look into it for me and was told the cost would be $300 instead of the $25 like medlowa said it would be. Any help guys?
  • Hi,
    Call General Motors in Canada, you should be able get that from the internet.
    An you should the letter of compliance for around $25
    Hope it works out
  • rbeutelrbeutel Posts: 2

    Toyota offers the Highlander Hybrid only in the luxury Limited model in the US. In Canada the LE and the XLE are offered, which I need for the 2nd bench seat and cloth upholstery. I also do not need all the digital "infotainment" gadgetry and crash avoidance devices. Toyota USA refuses to certify the Canadian model as compliant with US EPA and safety standards because "we do not authorized, recommend, or support the exportation of Toyota vehicles outside the region for which they are manufactured".

    Has anyone a workaround? Do the emisssions and safety labels on new Canadian vehicles typically state"Complies with Canadian and United States standards" or words to that effect?

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