Importing Car into Canada from US

jasonngjasonng Member Posts: 1
I'm looking to import an american vehicle into Canada to save some money through the exchange rate. Does anyone know what are the fees i'll have to pay when I enter the border with the car?


  • CarMan@Edmunds[email protected] Member Posts: 38,514
    Hi jasonng. At first it definitely seems tempting to purchase a new vehicle in Canada an import it to the United States. However, the problem with doing this is that many new vehicle manufacturers refuse to honor the warranties of Canadian vehicles that are imported to the U.S. As you might imagine, this is a big negative. Also, your Canadian vehicle will be worth much less than a similar U.S. model when you decide to sell it several years down the road, eating into the original savings that you experienced. I haven't even mentioned the fact that the U.S. - Canadian exchange rate is not nearly as favorable today that it was a few years ago. For more information on this subject, I suggest that you check out the following discussion: Buying in Canada.

    Smart Shoppers / FWI Message Boards
  • landru2landru2 Member Posts: 638
    He's talking about a twist on an old topic - he wants to bring the car from the U.S. to Canada.

    Sorry jasonng, I don't know the answer to your question. Perhaps check with the appropriate government department - Customs and Excise?
  • CarMan@Edmunds[email protected] Member Posts: 38,514
    Ahhhh, you're right, landru2. I'm not sure that I see the advantage of doing this. If consumers import Canadian vehicles to the U.S. to save money, how would importing a U.S. vehicle to Canada be beneficial to the consumer who is doing so?

    Smart Shoppers / FWI Message Boards
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Member Posts: 1,828
    There are a lot of Canadians who come into the US for a few years on a job assignment and then head home.

    My brother works for a Canadian company and often sell these cars for these Canadians. Personally, I have not figured out why they don't take them home with them.
  • SylviaSylvia Member Posts: 1,636
  • boomer1bboomer1b Member Posts: 348
    The law USED to be that you couldn't import a used car from the US to Canada unless it was 10 yrs. old or more. I am sure there were a few other exceptions.

    Check with Canadian customs or prov. govt. for current rules.
  • jhowtonjhowton Member Posts: 3
    I will be in Ontario on a work permit for 2 years starting this Fall.
    Does anyone know how that works regarding my 2 vehicles? Will I have to pay a deposit at the border that will be refunded in 2 years?
    I'm planning to buy a 2005 subaru outback and trade in my 1998 pathfinder prior to the move.
  • jhowtonjhowton Member Posts: 3
    will my car be covered under warranty in canada?
  • jhowtonjhowton Member Posts: 3
    Anyone have an idea how much it will cost to bring a USA 2000 honda accord up to canadian standards: the bumper adjustment, running lights, etc? if it's real expensive, i may just sell it and buy a new car....
  • boomer1bboomer1b Member Posts: 348
    MOST US and Canadian cars share the same emission, bumper, impact, standards.........

    The only difference is Canada has required DRLs (daytime running lights) since 95? I think.
    Most GM cars have had them since 96 anyway. Not sure about other makes.

    I live on the US-Canadian border in NY. A lot of local used car dealers bring Canadian vehicles into the US for resale. And yes most mfrs. will and do deny all warranty work.

    Not sure how it works the other way around tho...

    Best bet is to call Subie USA direct and ask !

    Also contact Canadian customs and the Prov. govt. where you will be living about reg. your cars there.

    Terry aka RRoyce is the man to ask around here.
    But hes goofing off golfing somewhere for a few days! I wish it was me instead.......

    So if he sees this..He can help ya out!
  • nzcangoosenzcangoose Member Posts: 1
    Hi people and thanks for looking.

    I have seen this topic discussed in detail from a warranty perspective and i think i understand in better thanks to the forum.

    Im my case, i am a kiwi (New Zealander) immigrating to Ottawa in 6 weeks, and i very much want to buy a Dodge pickup. Several good websites show me many pickups that meet my criteria, and 99% of them are in the USA.

    I cant see why i cant fly to the USA, buy the truck i want, and drive it home.

    Does anyone know and understand the import laws enough to give me a rundown on what to expect?

    Thank you in advance...

  • shunxshunx Member Posts: 17
    It's supposedly very easy to import any vehicles over 15 years old, but newer than that there are more regulations.
  • a8610a8610 Member Posts: 1
  • hwudoinhwudoin Member Posts: 2
    Actually, you can just go to the States and buy your dream truck and bring it into Canada. I'll try to give you a little break down on what you can expect.

    If the vehicle is made in North America (doesn't matter if it's a Honda or a dodge) you can bring it in duty free into Canada. Make sure that the car is admissible into Canada by checking the list from RIV

    You will have to pay the taxes on the Canadian value that you paid or the red book value (whichever is greater). Pending on the province that you are entering, it varies.

    If the car has air conditioning, you will have to pay a $100 tax.

    I believe the the application process will cost aprox $200

    You will have, I believe, 45 days to get the vehicle inspected to make sure everything checks out. If the car doesn't have day time running lights, you will need to have this installed and usually costs about $100 to $150.

    Make sure you get a recall letter from the manufacturer BEFORE arriving at the border. You do not want to try bringing a car into Canada with outstanding recalls.

    It also helps to call the border a few days in advance if possible. I found that this can speed things up quite a bit.

    Also, I cannot speak for all manufactures, but I have not run into any trouble with getting warranty work done. If it's a warranty from the manufacturer, you shouldn't have any trouble getting it transferred to you (usually at no cost) and having it honored here in Canada. Most after market warranties are null and void if sold outside the issuing country though.

    There is no age limit anymore. You can go buy a 2006 from the states, just as long as it's made in North America, there is no duty.

    Hope this helps... if you have any other questions, drop me a line.

    [email protected]
  • patpat Member Posts: 10,421
    Better yet, if there are other questions let's ask folks to post them here instead of taking the conversation to email. That way the continued exchange will benefit our whole community - now and in the future. :)

    Thanks for a very helpful post.
  • tqhtqh Member Posts: 1
    Thanks, your note was very helpful and its hard to get a straight answer anywhere.

    Coule of questions:
    - assume that you would have to pay PST and GST on any vehicle you buy and import to Canada??
    - how do you get the manufacturers warranty transferred over to youself?
  • abigmuttabigmutt Member Posts: 38
    what if you don't have one of these yet, but you have everything else? is there no use showing up at the border with your car to import, without having this letter? I thought you show this letter later, at Canadian Tire, at time of inspection. thanks.
  • tibbatibba Member Posts: 13
    Make sure that you can actually get this letter before you purchase. I understand you cannot register the car in Canada without this letter. I was considering an Acura MDX. Acura USA will not issue this letter to Canadians unless you are living in the US.... Also Acura Warranty was not transferable. Good thing I checked with Acura about this letter before I was ready to even contact a US dealer.

    Now I am close to making an offer on Lexus RX330 AWD.
  • nrbachnrbach Member Posts: 1
    Hi there, I have a question about the logistics of putting a licence plate on a USED car that I might buy. If I buy a car in the US, and drive it to Canada, what plate would I put on the car? Can I get temporary plates in Ontario, as long as it's insured?

  • hwudoinhwudoin Member Posts: 2
    I have never imported into Ontario, but my understanding is that Ontario is a catch 22 situation. Can't drive the car without a plate and cannot register the car without it being in Ontario!! What do you do?

    Insurance is not a problem, just call your company with the details of the car and you are done.

    What you may be able to do, pending on the state, is get a temporary plate from that State. I know that Florida issues these and taxes are not required to be paid until the car is fully registered. I'm not sure on the particulars required if you are not actually living in that State, but it may be something to check out.

    The one sure way of doing it is to have it transported. It's actually not a bad deal pending on where the car is and where you need it transported. It can be delivered right to your driveway, but I would have it delivered to the border and do the paperwork yourself. If ever I can be of any help, just ask. If I don't know the answer, I'll help you find it. Have a great day and happy importing!! lol

  • chronorequiemchronorequiem Member Posts: 3
    Don't think anyone in this thread asked yet but here it goes.

    Do I need to be an US citizen AND have an US address in order to buy a new car from a dealership in the States?

    I've asked on other non-Edmund's board and it seems this is the case. I'd just like to confirm. If I need to meet the above two requirements then no way can i even buy a new car in US, let alone import it.

    Thanks for reading this.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Member Posts: 1,828
    Yes, you need a US address. No, you do not need citizenship papers to buy a car.

    Most dealers will not sell to Canadians knowingly as that is part of the dealership contract in many cases. In some cases, the warranties so not creoss the border.

    What I do not understand is why you would want to buy a new car in the US as the prices are generally MORE EXPENSIVE!! Last year, I purchased five identical pick-up trucks - two for Chicago and one each for Calgary, Montreal, and Toronto and the US trucks were about $1,200 more on USD$21k trucks.
  • chronorequiemchronorequiem Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for the reply.

    Actually basically any car other than those made in the States is cheaper in US than here in Canada, from what I've observed. I'm looking at the STi and that's cheaper in the States than here in Canada. At the current favorable exchange rate(for us anyway) that car is ~44k CAD after adding all the damn taxes, which are duty+our 14% tax(provincial and federal). Even that is cheaper than our price BEFORE tax, 49k CAD, which ends up being 58k after tax. So in this case it's about 10k USD CHEAPER to buy it in the states and jumping through all the hoops to get the car into Canada and have a BC license.

    But then I need an US address. Argh... :cry:
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Member Posts: 1,828
    You have more problems than finding a US address.

    1) First, all states are going to charge you sales tax also.

    2) How are you going to get the car back into Canada to use it? I am sure that the Province of BC is going to hit you with some taxes or duties.

    3) How are your going to pay for the vehicle? If by cash, you are going to have a fun time carrying all that currency into the US. Make sure you declare it at the border. And when you show up at the dealership, they will have to file a form with the Treasury Department in order to accept the cash. If you plan to finance it, you are an alien with no credit record in the US. You will either need a social security number (which you won't get) or you will need a ATIN.

    4) You better make sure that Subaru will honor a warranty claim in Canada on a purchase made in the US. Many of the domestics and VW will NOT.
  • chronorequiemchronorequiem Member Posts: 3
    Well even after getting taxed twice, once in the states and once back here in BC Canada(and with duty), it's still cheaper. I think the states that I pass through will issue temp permit(well sheet of paper with plate no. and effective dates) when I fill out the paperworks. Our provincial auto insurance co. does have temporary insurance to cover the car during the period of time it's traveling to US/Can border. So the permit+insurance part is good.

    As long as the dealer can get their money in whole lump sum and checked to be legitimate it's not a problem. The deposit can be placed using credit card(Canadian card can be used for giving them USD), and the rest of the cost(total-deposit) needs to be paid with certified check.This latter item can be obtained either by taking a loan from bank or leaving the adequate amount of money in account and have them issue it.

    Now the last one...Hmmm that I don't know yet.

    Probably the most difficult part is still the address...
  • balls1balls1 Member Posts: 1
    1.Most US Dealers WILL sell a New Vehicle to a Canadian. However, they will not Provide ANY of the Incentives that are Available to Americans. ie: Ford Family Plan (us version)

    2.When Purchasing a Used Vehicle NOT All States will Charge you Sales Tax. For Example, Texas, Wisconsin and NY will NOT Charge Sales Tax. You Will Pay sales Tax where you Register the Vehicle. ie: BC, Ontario, etc,...

    3.Most US and Canadian Built Cars are NOT Subject to Duties. Just make Sure that they Comply to Canadian Safety Standards!

    4.Bring a Certified Cheque.

    5. Ford of Canada Will Honor the American Manufacturers Warantee. Subaru, Why Not?
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Member Posts: 1,828
    US dealers of domestic brands are precluded from selling to Canadians by their dealership contract. The OEMs want to keep the cross border shopping to a minimum on the sale of new cars. I have had this discussion on a number of occasions with my friends in the high volume Ford dealership in Windsor, ON as well as a couple of dealerships in Dearborn, MI.
  • audia8qaudia8q Member Posts: 3,138
    Ford will honor the warranty but not all mfg will. Some Asian and European brands do not honor cross boarder warranties......another thing that we found on Canadian lincolns, for example. The US versions previously included full maint and the canadian version did not. So even if the warranty is honored it may be different in terms of coverages. We had purchased some canadian units and found out after the fact...we ended up eating the maint costs since we told customers the warranty was the same. Our mistake and it cost us. I'm sure other brands have similar differences.
  • chrisyakchrisyak Member Posts: 8
    I am a little new to this and could use some help.I have done some research on importing a car from the u.s but some of my questions are still not answered and could really use the feedback of people who have knowledge of gone through the process themselves.

    I am looking to import a 68 Dodge Charger from the U.S. and would like to know if the kind of costs involved besides the actual purchase of the vehicle.

    Will i have to pay their State Tax?

    Because the car is fairly old will i have to pay Duty and GST & PST?Even if i plan to resell the vehicle?

    Because the car is going to be resold will it need to registered in my province?

    What kind of documentation is required for importing older vehicles?

    Are their transport companies that will take care of the border stuff?

    Are their any other kind of hidden costs or paper work that i should be aware of?
  • henry01henry01 Member Posts: 1

    Guys, I think I made the mistake of buying the accord in states and bringing it into Canada prior to getting the clearance letter from American Honda. I contacted American Honda and they refused to provide a letter, since i don't reside in states. I contacted RIV and they told me to download the info with the VIN number from honda site and that would suffice for no recall clearance.

    Has anybody gone through it. I did check with the dealer prior to buying the car from owner about any outstanding recalls, and there were none.

    This is a bunch of BS, I don't know why American Honda has an upset stomach on issuing a no recall letter for used cars.

    any info would be appreciated.

    thanks a lot.
  • geo9geo9 Member Posts: 739
    Your best off calling your local prov. customs office
    for any good answers...........

    It used to be in Ontario any American car could be imported
    into Canada if it was OVER 10 yrs. old with NO duty.

    Things have changed a LOT with NAFTA...................
  • geo9geo9 Member Posts: 739
    HENRY...A few years back MOST auto makers voided any
    warranty/recall for any vehicle that was sold in
    Canada new then imported to the US for resale.
    (and the other way around also)

    Unless it was by the original owner that happened to be
    traveling in the US or Canada. So you MAY have a shot
    on that account. I doubt they will give you anything
    in writing.

    Its prob. best if you kept your eye on one of the recall
    forums and brought your car back to the states for
    warranty/service to avoid any hassle...........

    I see these problems a lot where I live along the NY/Canada
    border with newer cars imported into the US from Canada.
    Most folks have to bite the bullet and make a trip into
    Canada for any warranty service.................... :confuse:
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Member Posts: 9,359
    .....**A few years back MOST auto makers voided any
    warranty/recall for any vehicle that was sold in
    Canada new then imported to the US for resale.
    (and the other way around also)**

    Can anyone say the word --- Bingo.?

  • thebavarianthebavarian Member Posts: 1
    I bought a used vehicle in the US ( PA ) but I cannot import it until the title comes back from the state with my name on it and that takes 4-6 weeks :( Can anyone tell me if there is a workaround for this problem and if this is what happens with every state in the us. What if I have a canadian dealer buy car for me from the us and import it with the dealer plates on it
    I had serious problems on the canadian border with the above mentioned vehicle because I did not have the title and wanted to drive it in canada until the title comes and I can import it. I also had to pay good fine to get it back because they seized it. Now I am in their system and every time I cross the border I attract attention. I am planning on disputing the seizure so If anyone knows something about seizures or can provide me with a link I would be very thankful.
  • tonytan1999tonytan1999 Member Posts: 12
    I have been planning to buy a new Volvo in a state-sales-tax-free state near BC (Alaska, Oregon, or Montana) and import it to Canada, but am finding the following issues unclear:

    1. Title
    Most states, if not all, requires residency (i.e. qualification for a local driver's license) before they'll title/register a new car. Does anyone have experience getting a new car titled in AK or OR without proof of residency? And even if you got title without showing proof of residency, how long did you have to wait for it (i.e. leave the car in the states)?

    2. Recall Clearance Letter
    The safest way appears to be: call the dealer, get the VIN and hold the car, call the manufacturer, ask for the letter, wait for the letter to arrive, then pay for the car. Does anyone have the experience of getting a letter from Volvo USA?

    Other issues seem to be solvable for now. I'll be glad to share any research findings with anyone interested.

  • rikat007rikat007 Member Posts: 1
    Hi I'd like to get any info on requirements/process & cost of importing a new BMW into Canada. Thanks
  • bryanreobryanreo Member Posts: 1
    Am also interested in purchasing a new car in the US and importing to Canada. A 2005 BMW X3 is about $9,000 less in the US after accounting for currently differences but I imagine there will be big duties to pay. Did you find out anything in your research?

    Thanks for you time.

    Bryan @ REO
  • tonytan1999tonytan1999 Member Posts: 12
    Revenue Canada (or whatever the current name is) lists on its website a 6% import rate for cars made in countries without special treaties. I don't think EU has any special treaties with Canada as far as car importing is concerned. I'm not aware of any other taxes.

    That duty does eat into your potential savings (of $9000 less travel expenses, additional insurance, title fees, licensing fees, RIV fees, inspection fees, modification costs, GST, PST or HST, etc.).

    It appears that the 6% duty (and probably the 7% GST too) will be calculated based on the Canadian blue book value rather than your true cost. But still, we can probably save a good $6000 to $7000 after tax by going to the states for a few days of vacation. Right? :-) Just have to make sure the whole process is at all possible.

    (Again, as I said in my first email, getting title document and recall clearance seems to be the biggest issue, unless you can already live in the states.)

    Good luck, and lets share any further findings...

    you might want to check this page for some real life experience of importing an USED car:
  • geo9geo9 Member Posts: 739
  • geo9geo9 Member Posts: 739
    The car mfr. direct and ask if the warranty will still
    be honored on cars bought in the US then reregistered
    in Canada (or visa versa).

    I have read quite a few auto makers doing this on these

    I live along the US/Canadian border and have seen this
    happen several times with Canadian cars imported into
    the US..............
  • nondalovernondalover Member Posts: 1
    Hi henry01,
    I have a same problem with damn the clearance letter from American Honda.They just refused with no reason... :mad:
    Can you or anybody who nows,please write me how to download the info with the VIN number from honda site.
    Would very appreciate you halp ,folks !!!!
    Please email me: [email protected]
  • subahondasubahonda Member Posts: 75
    If you are buying from an authorized dealer, the manager of the dealership can write the letter. Look at the instructions at the RIV site. Simply downloading stuff does not meet the requirement. The US DOT has a list of recalls. You should call the manufacturer again and ask for the letter - someone else should answer the phone. You are entitled to such a letter as a customer - but you have to own the car and have title.
  • subahondasubahonda Member Posts: 75
    There are a lot of errors on some of the posts. The state sales tax is not collected on a car that is being exported unless you are plating it in that state. You cannot be a resident of the state because residents have to pay the sales tax. So a Canadian can buy the car and take it out. Some dealer associations have deals with their counterparts in Canada to prevent the sales but they are legal by NAFTA. I just went through this. I also got the full rebate as advertised. The title goes with the car and will be signed over to you by the dealer and you will be given a transport certificate. The recall clearance letter is required at the inspection when you complete form 2 at Canadian Tire. The RIV web site has all the steps and they are correct. The US export clearance requires that a copy of the MCO (which is the title or manufacturers certificate) be faxed to the US border office where you will enter Canada "at least72 hours" ahead. This is incorrect. They want three full business days. They don't count weekends or holidays. So count three days after they receive the fax (and call to confirm that they received it). You then have the US Customs officer stamp the title upon presentation of the vehicle. You drive across the border with the title and bill of sale. Look at the certificate of compliance label on the car for its date of manufacture because that will be required for Form 1 on the Canadian side, as well you must pay the GST and Air Tax. It states the site of manufacture as well. The matter of duty is not clear. Expect to pay it and be happy if you don't - include it in your calculations. The RIV fee is $209 and you have to pay whatever provincial inspection fee and sales taxes are required in your province when you get to the provincial licencing office. Remember that the Customs people are not your enemy. They are making sure that everything is in order. The biggest problem is the US clearance - people think they can just show up. The manufacturer will only give the letter after you have the title showing that you own the vehicle in question. They will not do it ahead of the purchase and it is not needed at the border. The US dealer required a US taxpayer identification number (Social Security), which you can get if you don't have one. There are also Patriot Act requirements of disclosure of the owner's past record. Everything is okay if you do the things as required. Check with the manufacturer on both sides about the warranty.
  • 4runnerrip4runnerrip Member Posts: 24
    Hi all,

    I've read through the RIV website but there still seams to be some manufacturer-specific loose ends. So I'd like to know if any Canadian has bought a new Honda in the US and imported into Canada (even better if to Ontario)?

    Will the warranty be honoured in Canada?
    Did you have to pay any type of tax in the US?
    How did you arrange for trip permits while transporting back to Canada?
    Were the border staff in both countries already familiar with this sort of thing or were there hassles?
    Any other hiccups?

    I ask because the CDN dollar at the moment is trading at almost 0.87US which means for the Element I was considering buying here in Canada costs about 30,000C$ (excluding taxes) whereas the same model bought at a US dealership would be about 21,500US$ (24,712CS)

  • tmaliktmalik Member Posts: 27
    Hi Ian,

    I'm in your boat as well, sitting in Ontario tempted to roll the dice and bring in a Honda from the States. I've found a few clues on other forums of this being done. I'll e-mail them to you if you'd like. Generally, my understanding is.

    1. warranty likely won't be honored. For the cost savings ($5-6k on an average vehicle) I'm not concerned. $5-6k will buy a lot of repairs, Hondas tend to be very reliable and if anything major does happen (powertrain), you can tow it back to the states for repair.

    2. no significant tax - no sales tax since you and I would be non-resident in the state of purchase. GST and (possibly) duties at the border, but nothing major in the states.

    3. Not sure on this one. You'll need insurance (from your Ontario insurer) for driving in the states. Don't know if you'll need anything from the state you buy vehicle in.

    4. Customs officers know the procedures and handle it regularly.

    5. Lot of little details to sweat, but definately doable.

    Unfortunately this seems to be one of the few forums where no one seems to actually have tried this lately.
  • tmaliktmalik Member Posts: 27
    subahonda, share your wisdom, please.

    How did you get a social security number? Can non-residents (e.g. Canadians living in Canada) get a number? That to me seems the stumbling block for a Canadian wanting to buy in the states. WIthout that, I assume a US car dealer isn't going to be able to transfer title to me.

    What state did you buy from and what vehicle did you bring over to Canada?

  • westcoastkidwestcoastkid Member Posts: 1
    Looks like I found a clean used car at a good price (I'm willing to gamble that it is as good is they say).
    It is out on the boonies. The dealer seams legit.
    Payment seems to be an issue though. It will take days 2-3 three days for a certified canadian check to clear before he can releasing the car, wire transfer seems like a good option (they cost $40 and takes a couple days). Any idea's on doing this in one road trip (I could leave the car at friends in the states and make a second trip if customs is held up). Are there issues with declaring US$20K going across the boarder to buy a car if I do a wire transfer? It seems strange in this day and age that the wire transfer takes 2 days. :)


  • mlhooprmlhoopr Member Posts: 3
    Don't do it!!! Sounds like a scam. I have heard of many people having these same issues with dealers in the U.S. and finding out it is a scam and then having no way to get the money back.

    Please research the dealership more by checking the phone number on the for that area of the Country, if it doesn't match or you can't find the dealership listed, it is probably a scam.
  • mlhooprmlhoopr Member Posts: 3
    I am looking for some advice or place of direction about importing vehicles into Canada. I am not a begginer as I have imported two Mitsubishi Eclipses already and re-sold them for a decent profit.

    Now I am looking for a vehicle to re-sell in Canada that has a larger profit margin. The problem is that I can't seem to find any sources of information on what type of vehicle to buy.

    I am sure there is someone else out there that could give me some assistance/guidance and I am sure it would be appreciated by more than just myself.
  • tmaliktmalik Member Posts: 27
    Sorry, but if you've already done it twice at a profit, then you classify as a pro in my opinion. I doubt anyone on this forum imports cars into Canada for profit. If you are intending to, good luck.

    I do wonder how much profit there is left after you resell. You bring a car into Canada for personal use and there's a savings for sure. But when you try to resell on, the buyer would have to buy PST (depending on the province you live in), lose any warranty (if its a new car) and overcome the fear of buying an imported vehicle, which means they won't pay you the same price they'ld pay a Canadian dealer for the same car. Is there enough margin left?
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