How to import a vehicle from the USA into Canada

Here’s a small guide a client of mine wrote up concerning how he managed to purchase a car in the United States and import it into Canada. There’s a lot of paperwork to go through, but you should end up saving quite a bit of money, especially since the Canadian Dollar now is so strong.

  1. Find a car of your choice.
  2. See if the car is admissible into Canada, and that it fits the Canadian safety requirements.
  3. Check the vehicle history by using a service such as CARFAX. You’ll need the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to perform the lookup. CARFAX is predominately an American vehicle lookup service, while CarProof is Canadian.
  4. Check to see if there are any recalls on the car with the dealer and Transport Canada.
  5. Check to see if there are any modification requirements. Transport Canada (1-800-848-8240) and Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV).
  6. Negotiate the price of the car with the seller.
  7. Reserve the vehicle and then send the seller a USD money order, via Fedex or a courier of your choice.
  8. Prepare the Original Certificate of Title and sales receipt 72 hours before arriving to the border.
  9. If the vehicle is purchased for resale, you have to advise this to the CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency).
  10. Ask for a recall clearance letter from the manufacturer / dealer. Fax this document to RIV, which is 1-888-642-9899, to facilitate the timely release of the inspections form from RIV.
  11. Anti-theft immobilizers are required.
  12. If the vehicle will be shipped to you, call a company to arrange transportation, e.g. (1-877-512-2227).
  13. Open an account with a broker, e.g. A&A Contract Custom Brokers Ltd.
  14. Call the broker and provide the necessary documents: title, registration, sales receipts, buyer information and recall clearance letter.
  15. Get the Admissible letter from the broker, which he will get from the border.
  16. Complete Vehicle Import Form #1, from A&A Contract Custom Brokers Ltd.
  17. Your vehicle will now ship to your chosen destination.
  18. Get the recall letter from the dealer and send it to the broker in order to complete Form #2.
  19. Take an appointment with the inspection company. With Canadian Tire, it’ll take you 2-3 days to do so.
  20. Vehicle inspections must be done prior to licensing and insuring.
  21. Register the vehicle with Forms #1 and #2 approved by the inspector, recall letter, admissible letter, sales receipts, original certificate of title and pay the 8.5% PST/TVQ sales tax to the SAAQ.
  22. Change the speedometer to km/h (if possible) and turn on daytime running lights.
  23. Check to see if there are any other additional costs (duties & taxes) such as the A/C excise tax.