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Importing Car into Canada from US



  • Washington State tax is not an issue - the state tax law (you can google for it) says cars sold to out-of-state buyers are not subject to state sales tax. What you do need though is to prove that you are in deed from out-of-state. Just bring your hydro/phone bills and DL.
  • kim15kim15 Posts: 9
    Hi, did you buy a nissan from Washington state? I know that Toyota/Lexus dealers in WA don't sell new cars to Canadians. Please advise if Nissan/Infiniti does from your experience. Thanks.
  • Hi,

    I can't really speak about Nissan/Infiniti other than knowing (from my pricing research) that Nissan has one of the biggest price differentials between the two countries.

    I'd only argue that paying WA tax wouldn't make you a WA resident either. The dealer needs to take the car off the available inventory and register your real name/address/DL info in Nissan USA's VIN tracking system. In any case, you would probably still need to reveal your Canadian status if you wanted the dealer to issue you a few 3-day trip permits so that you can take the car off the lot and drive it to the boarder.

    So if Nissan really has a no-sale-to-Canadians policy, then you would probably be out of luck even if you are willing to pay the 8+% WA state tax, right? If they are not so fussy, then by law you would not need to pay. You might also want to try Portland where state tax is a non-issue. But getting the required trip permits could be a hassle.

    Now a few quick lines about my own importing experience:

    I bought a 06 Subaru Forester X-P from Puyallup and found the purchasing, permitting, insurance, storage and US exporting, Canadian importing, taxation, inspection and licencing processes very logical and reasonably easy to handle. I just did what all the policies/laws permitted and found that nobody was really trying to put up red tapes along the way. Ended up saving over $8000 after all taxes, fees and expenses for a total of 40 hours of work.

    (and just a side note to someone asking in an ealier message: I did test Subaru's roadside assistance and it was very very good - I was stupid enough to run out of gas on the first tank! :-))

    Good luck!
  • Seandamien,

    I am looking at buying a new BMW from the US and noticed that you were considering a similar option. Did you ever end up following through. And if so, how was your experience?

  • Hi
    There is a canadian company that does all of paper work
    shipping to canada.
    You can purchase a vehicle they will handle everything
    delivered to your door.
    It is in Ontario Professional Access Group
  • guyfguyf Posts: 456
    How much do they charge for the service?
  • It is dealers, not the company, that usually enter into agreements not to sell it to someone from Canada. In turn, the Canadian dealers don't sell to USA residents. For example, Toyota USA and Canada have no restrictions on sales or warranty but the dealers in New York and Ontario have an agreement. The New York Toyota dealer must have you register it and pay sales tax in NY in order to sell it to you. In that case, you go one state farther from the border and buy it there. Same with Nissan, I assume. Simply call Nissan USA and get their opinion. I know that there is no such restriction by
    Honda and Subaru from personal experiences.
  • vangvang Posts: 12
    Wondering if anyone has imported a Certified Cadillac SRX into Ontario:

    Did you have any problems with the extended warranty transferring into Canada?

    Any difficulties with the purchase? new or used

    I think we are going to wait for 07 SRX used inventory to start coming on the market.

    Van G
  • coloncolon Posts: 2
    There seems to be some confusion as to the importation of a new vs a pre-owned car from the U.S. An interview that was given by Dennis Desrosiers, one of Canada's to auto analyst, seems to give the impression that a used car (defined as one year old) would provide no difficulty in an importation process but a new car could. I would love to get reaction to this.
  • guyfguyf Posts: 456
    A lot of people have imported new cars into Canada without any problems. You just have to do your homework first.

    1- Go to and make sure your car is on the list of those you can import without major modifications.
    2- Confirm with the car manufacturer that your warranty will be honoured in Canada.

    Then if all is green lights, you do it!
  • Were you successful in importing the Mercedes ML350? Anyone else imported one? What was involved? Thanks
  • coloncolon Posts: 2
    I must salute those who have gone through the effort to import cars into Canada from the U.S. More of us should do this, because it is the only way in which there is a chance for domestic prices to be lowered. It is shameful that we have NAFTA yet some maufacturers are unwilling to honour warranties for products being sold under that agreement. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be enough of us, or that someone in Canada, to launch a Class Action suit similar to the one against Toyota. There needs to be some accounting by Honda if it truly wishes to be a credible player in the world auto market....good cars and backing of those cars go hand in hand.
  • I've formally complained to Canada's Competition bureau about the car prices in Canada.

    The bureau claim they are investigating and will let me know if there's any merit to my comment that I can buy a LLBean Subaru for $20k less in the US. Heck you can't even get the LL Bean in Canada so I need to settle for what they call the 2007 3.0R VDC.
  • Hey,
    do you have a contact or a phone number from this canadian company?
    Because i have to import my car...

    Thanks :confuse:
  • lax5lax5 Posts: 29
    Looking for info about the process of insuring an imported American vehicle in British Columbia. Anyone have experience they can share?

  • ... I only have experience with an 2006 Subaru Forester ...

    Insuring an imported US car with ICBC requires that the car is elligible for registration in BC by the owner, which intern requires that the car:
    (a) has proper ownership document, namely the Statement of Origin for a new car;
    (b) has proper importing documentation, namely stamped Form 1 from the RIV office, and
    (c) passes the provincial inspection (can get it done at a local shop for $40 rather than paying $170 at Canadian Tire), which is similar but totally separate from the federal inspection included in the $200+ RIV fee.

    Of course you also need to show the GST receipt (so that ICBC can calculate the PST payable), and bring DL, cheque, cash, or plastic, ... :-)

    Good luck!
  • did you but the subaru forrester?
    I am new at this and looking into buying one in the states
    I am in alberta so assume it is pretty much teh same but no pst so could save even more
    where did you get yours and how much did you save?
    any warranty problems?
  • lax5lax5 Posts: 29
    I was also concerned about having the proper plate or tag so that I could get the binder insurance to drive home from Arizona. How did you accomplish that with the Subaru?
  • cobotcobot Posts: 3
    1. Day time running lights in the main modification you will have to do on new vehicles. Depending on the vehicle, there may be more to do.
    2. You need to call the boarder crossing you will be using to get across the boarder 72 hrs in advace, and fax the title. They need the 72hrs to make sure the vehicle has no liens and is not stolen etc...
  • cobotcobot Posts: 3
    I've been down in Washington to buy a BMW and went to a few BMW dealers and they all would not sell me a car since I was from Canada. It is because of the BMW North American franchise agreement, why they are not allowed; therefore no BMW dealers in the entire USA are able to sell a vehicle to a Canadian. I was very persistant but they would not budge. At one dealer I thought I had a deal but the salesman didn't know he couldn't sell to a Canadian, until he was told by the manager later on in the process.
  • cobotcobot Posts: 3
    canucklehead; how did you arrive at a savings of $20,000cdn on the 2007 L.L. Bean Subaru Outback? I figured the USA 2007 LL Bean Outback to come to about $42,000cdn after all the assossiated costs, and the Cdn 2007 Outback 3.0R PP to cost about $49,000cdn with GST. That's a savings of about only $7,000. Any help would be appreciated, I like the number you came up with better, but am wondering if you missed something...? I used the 2007 3.0R PP since I could not find the 2007 3.0R VDC.
  • I bought a 2006 Subaru Forester X-Premium (the equivalent of XS with Sunroof in Canada) from the internet sales manager David Ogle at Payallup (WA) Subaru. He offered the best price and service combo at the time I was shopping around. And the entire Payallup dealership staff seemed very professional. If I buy again from them, I would have no problem wiring them money first. (last time I brought cash with me and had to declare at both sides of the border).

    Joe Spitz (he has a personal site which you could google for) at Seattle Downtown was a very close competitor but he didn't have a blue one in stock at the time.

    Whether you are in AB or BC, the most important thing is to understand the RIV (mainly the Transport Canada part) and Provincial Licensing processes and requirements. Also need to research the US export, storage (while you wait for the export), state trip permit, and binder insurance stuff before paying for the car. But as long as you don't miss any of these (very logical) steps, nothing is really going to trouble you - see my ealier message ...

    PST was the least of my worries because even after all expenses, fees and taxes, I was guaranteed to save about 25% from the after-PST Canadian price. I don't see no PST being a reason why you could save more. On contrary, the higher the PST rate, the more you would save because the taxable value would be lower if you bought from the States. Wouldn't you have to pay for PST if you bought from Canada?

    For CAD$8,000 savings on a US$23000+duty+expenses+fees (or C$34000) car, you could buy a lot of extra preventive maintenance or repairs north or south of the border.
    But in the case of Subaru, the warranty is valid thoughout North-America. Canadian dealers shouldn't give you a hard time when you require warranty service - bottom line is that: they could either lose the sales opportunity but still have you as a service customer, or lose both.

    Good luck, and enjoy the process!
  • My understanding is that binder insurance only requires that the car has temp/trip permits throughout the insurance policy period. You don't even need to provide the permit number when you buy insurance. Instead, ICBC insures the car based on the VIN - they don't care if you own it or not. The policy won't be effective until you actually own the car.

    My case was quite simple and logical, although there were many steps involved: (however, in your case, you need to make sure you have trip permits for each state you drive through!)

    - send deposit to dealer secure a car (and get its VIN and sales agreement faxed to you)
    - buy binder insurance using that VIN from ICBC
    - pick up the car in WA and ask the dealer for enough trip permits to cover the entire period of time until the car crosses the boarder
    - also ask dealer for a no-recall letter
    - drive the car with the trip permits displayed to the border town (Blaine WA) and store at a local storage place
    - come home and submit paperwork to US customs by fax/email
    - wait a few days before confirming that US customs okays the export
    - buy temp BC permit before going to pick up the car again
    - drive to US customs and get inspection and export paperwork
    - drive to Canada and go through the RIV process (pay fee, pay GST, get GST receipt and form 1)
    - drive to home and store the car (better have storage insurance if permit expires before registration)
    - wait for RIV to send you form 2 (the form 1 copy sent from the customs to RIV office maybe illegible so you might want to send it again yourself to ensure that RIV office works on your case and sends you form 2 quickly)
    - get form 2 and take it to Canadian Tire for federal inspection, submit no-recall letter
    - (assume fed inspection passes) get form 2 stamped and you are done with RIV, C-tire will send a copy of form 2 to RIV for you
    - do provincial inspection at Canadian Tire or another independent shop listed on ICBC website, they have the right forms
    - get the provincial inspection paperwork from shop and go to a ICBC agent
    - submit provincial form and form 1/form 2/GST receipt and pay PST to get registration and insurance

    and after that:
    - enjoy driving and run out of gas on the road
    - test how great the roadside assistance works (Subaru USA would work their butt off to find a towing company in Vancouver for you!)
    - get some gas and don't ever run out of gas again :-)
  • 1. Day time running light is now standard on most new cars worth the importing trouble. But even if not, wring it wouldn't be difficult or costly.

    Same thing for a metric version of speedohead - as long as there is km/hr shown, doesn't matter how small the letters are or what button you have to push to get them.

    Same for 8km bumpers, LATCH system, etc. - most of them are standard equipment.

    2. Phone the US customs office at the border you will cross to get detailed requirement. Then write a cover letter including all info they require and fax it with the title doc (Statement of Origin and sales receipt if new car).

    Give them 3 full working days before calling/emailing to check if your export application is approved. Don't go pick up the car (from temp storage) before getting a positive response.

    for governing law, see:

    The boarder office can also recommend a few local temp storage companys to you.
  • lax5lax5 Posts: 29
    I cannot find links for trip permits in either Nevada, or Washington State, other than for commercial vehicles. Can anyone provide links for these?
  • lax5lax5 Posts: 29
    The Blaine border crossing is only open Mon-Fri; 8:00-3:30. Does anyone know if there is another option for coming back into BC that has different hours?
  • Lorned, did you go thru with the Lexus purchase? Would love to know more, as interested in same.

    Seems to me that buying new may be problem only in that warranty would not be honored. But can anyone confirm if buying used Lexus was the same issue, or if Lexus Canada honored warranty? Appreciate any counsel.

  • Hi,
    Does enyone knows how to instal DRL on US Acura MDX.
    I am waiting for inspection and want to do that before.

  • No, Lexus started telling dealers (even in southern US) not to sell to Canadians. I will be questioning Lexus corporate on this price-fixing but no solution to this point.
  • Why do you guys tell them that you are going to export the car? You can tell them that you are coming to work under NAFTA. There is no law against changing your mind later, is there? You may have to give them a US address in another state (maybe to mail your title) but because most folks have friends or can rent a PO box, this should not be a problem.
  • Hello rav4fans... I live in BC also. Did you end up importing a RAV4 from the US? If so, I would be greatfull if you can let me know about your experience. Was it worth it financially? Was it alot of hassles? Any problems? What about warranty coverage?
  • Hey all,

    I have tried to search this, but could not find reference so excuse if this has been discussed already.

    I have a vehicle that I owned while living in the US and brought it back to Canada without importing/exporting it as I was unsure whether or not I would be staying in Canada (and I am sticking to that story! hehe). Anyhow, a few weeks ago, I brought the vehicle to the border to export it. I still have a loan on it from the US and I had a letter from the bank stating it was ok for me to export the vehicle. Since the bank holds the title, I provided US customs with a photocopy of the title and the letter 72 hours before I arrived. On the phone, they told me I did not need a "approved screen shot" since both my name and the banks name was on the title.

    Well, I get to the border and NOPE, they now need the screen shot. They also told me I could not take the vehicle out of the US. I ignored them (I had to get home) and entered back into Canada. At the Canadian side, they told me I needed to import the vehicle. I said "sure, I want to but I have not exported it yet". They told me they would import it anyhow and did so. They also mentioned that the only way I would be in trouble with the US is if I brought the vehicle back into the US and they found out I imported it without first exporting it. I have no intention of bringing that vehicle back into the US.

    Is this true? I am still waiting for my RIV package but are there going to be any issues because I have not exported it?

  • Hey Taurkon,

    I imported my used auto a year and half ago, and it seemed that there was no way for anyone to know whether or not I had exported the vehicle. Canada sure didn't care when I asked them about importing it. Guess who cared. When you go to get plates, they look for the stamp that US Customs stamps on your title. If that stamp isn't there, you're not getting plates buddy.

    The only hassle with exporting is that they are so damn slow and treat you like you're trying to smuggle crap in. I sat there for about an hour and got questioned. Finally the yankee stamped my title and sent me on my way.

    How the heck did you get to import a car with money still due on it!!! Nice, if I knew banks would approve that, I wouldn'ta dished out all the cash to pay it off first.

    Oh well, enjoy!
  • lax5lax5 Posts: 29
    Has anyone imported a Dodge Ram? Is the American warranty on this truck honoured in Canada?

    On another note, I bought a brand new 2006 Nissan Frontier NISMO in Arizona and drove it back to BC at the beginning of the week. The border was a breeze, with US customs taking at tops 10 minutes and Canadian 30 minutes, although it was frustrating that the exportation can only occur M-F; 8:00-3:30. I have found the process to be quite smooth up till now. I am taking it after work to get the DRL installed and then await the arrival of form 1 and then the RIV inspection at Canadian Tire. One possible reason that it has gone so smoothly is that the truck was purchased at a dealership.
  • tedd2tedd2 Posts: 23
    Were you looking at new BMW's or new and used? I am running into a wall re being able to purchase a new Honda or Porsche. I am also being told even on a used Honda the warranty would be void as soon as the car crossed the border. Has anyone had any experience with that?
  • tedd2tedd2 Posts: 23
    Further to my previous message, I am getting quite frustrated with the process of importing a vehicle, and I must admit if the Canadian dollar gets much lower it may in fact not be worth it. However, it strikes me if I have to go to Honda Canada, Porsche Canada or Mercedes Benz Canada to get my questions answered, then they are likely going to do or say anything they can to discourage me from shopping south of the border. Has anyone had any experience in challenging the notion that the warranty would not be valid once the car crossed into Canada?
  • tedd2tedd2 Posts: 23
    That is not what I am being told by Honda Canada. They are telling me the warranty will not be valid as soon as the car leaves the States.
  • tedd2tedd2 Posts: 23
    What were you able to find out about this either from this source or others? I am being quoted $3500 to $8000 by MB Canada which I have got to think is just a ruse to get me to shop in Canada. Were you able to verify this?
  • kerussokerusso Posts: 24
    I just brought a van back from the U.S. and had a DRL kit made by Hamsar installed. Almost any automotive aftermarket business can provide you with this kit and possibly even install if for you.
  • Yes, Honda nuked all warranties on imported vehicles. One can still buy something older and out of warranty period. I am not sure if this would be a problem, but you may still be able to service your Honda in the US. It should be practical / possible enough if you live in Vancouver or Hamilton... Legally speaking, US registration is not part of the deal.

    Irony: Honda did it to prevent Canadian units from going to the US when the exchance was under 65 cents.
  • ssamjissamji Posts: 3
    I was wondering if you got an answer to your question about the modification work on the Merecedes? I have C230 Kompressor and I too have been given the same estimate.
  • ssamjissamji Posts: 3
    Has anyone successfully imported a Merecedes Benz into Canada? I can handle all the fees and taxes I need to pay. But have also been told by Merecedes Benz Canada that the modification work will cost me about $4000! That is crazy!! When I spoke to riv (registrar of imported vehicles) they told me they don't deal with Mercedes anymore and I have to deal directly with the dealership. This just doesn't make any sense. Any thoughts?
  • tedd2tedd2 Posts: 23
    Well in my mind that is just being pretty short sighted. I am considering a Porsche, a Honda , a BMW or a Mercedes. Honda and Mercedes are just making it easier for me to drop them off the list because of doing stupid..and I would say illegal..things like that. So much for free trade.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    Only $4000? My friend spent $6000 to modify a Smart Car to get it titled in the US. And that sounded pretty reasonable compared to some of the exotics from Europe.

    If you are going to import a vehicle, you have to factor in the costs of modification as they can be significant.
  • tedd2tedd2 Posts: 23
    I can understand spending that on a car going from Canada to the U.S as they have more restrictions on emissions that makes sense..the thing that frustrates me is that MB Canada claim they can't even tell me what the list is...they say I have to go to a me that is just nonsense that they are telling me it could cost X dollars but then say they can't tell me what that is based on!!
  • ssamjissamji Posts: 3
    Did you end up getting all the necessary modifications done to your car?
  • tedd2tedd2 Posts: 23
    No not yet I am still in the process of trying to figure out exactly what they are so i will have some idea of what it is going to cost me. At this stage I seem to be having a cat and mouse game with Mercedes Benz canada.
  • I know quite a bit about importing as I have done it a few times. What are the mods on, seat restraints?
  • geo9geo9 Posts: 739
    Shell............I believe the seat mods are those
    stupid anchors (that are placed in the back of the seat
    bottom both front and rear) that are for a baby seat

    Another couple of recent US Fed. regs that come to mind are:
    DRLs, Auto door locks, pull up to close (operate) window switches....................

    US and Canada emission regs. are the SAME on any US or
    Canadian built vehicle (some states are different..Cali. ?)!
  • i set my mind on Mercedes CL55 AMG, 2002, pretty decent price, from Florida, low miles however i hit a dead wall of total BS when it came to figuring out what needed to be done to make this car "up to canadian crappy standards".

    someone would probably say "well, get a life man, buy it locally" (i am from vancouver, bc) and the answer to that is simple this car is rare in Canada, can't buy it period and i want it bad.

    It looks like, first of all, you have to unload 750 bucks to some prick at mercedes benz dealership so that he could tell you how much more cash you have to unload further to bring car to canada standard.

    I found a very VAGUE description on line of what will probably need to be done: "...may require modifications to the bumper and child tether anchorage before registration. … please contact M.B. to determine exact nature and costs of modification".

    My question is, does anyone know is it a FRONT BUMBER or REAR BUMPER ? or BOTH ?

    I went to mercedes dealership it got a price quote on front bumper which was 2000 CAD + "support" which i am not sure what it is but also part of front bumper is another 1577 CAD. Taxes and installations are extra at 110 CAD per hour. Child thing was cheap at 40 bucks.

    Service department guy at Mercedes told me they had SL500 2004-2005 from USA and he said customer paid around 6000 CAD for parts/work needed to be done .

    Is there anything else needed to be done on a car besides “a bumper” and tether thing ? Any information provided would be great.

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