Importing a Car From the US into Canada

How to successfully import a vehicle from the US into Canada

This is my account of how I imported a Toyota Tacoma from the US into Canada . With a bit of research and diligence anyone can save some money by shopping in the US . I don't guarantee that you will not have issues but I will guide you to the right agencies to ask questions.

How To Import A Car Into Canada

Before you Buy Your Vehicle

Of course you need to know exactly what type of vehicle you want; this is where the process starts. Now there are certain vehicles that you simply cannot import into Canada and others that are going to be a hassle to import. I knew that I wanted a Toyota Tacoma Sport with a double cab.

I started by contacting the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) to determine if this vehicle was admissible to Canada . You can contact the RIV at 1-888-848-8240 or

Simply tell them what type of vehicle you are looking for and they will tell you if it is admissible. Also ask what modifications are required on the particular vehicle. In my case I was only required to have day time running lights. They also told me that any Toyota manufactured after Sept 1 2007 was not admissible (at least at the time of writing this in January 2008).

The second agency is the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA). Contact them to determine any possible issues that may arise with the particular vehicle you plan to import. In my case all I had to do was pay the GST and the Federal Inspection Fee at the border when I crossed back into Canada .

I called my local insurance agency to determine how to insure the vehicle while I drove it back from the US . The vehicle would need to be registered in Colorado (the state where I bought it from) and the insurance company would provide me with an insurance binder to cover any damage.

Finally go to the US Customs and Border Protection website to determine the requirements of the US for exporting a vehicle. You can download the Vehicle/Equipment Export Worksheet from their site which needs to be sent along with the vehicle title to the US customs office at the border crossing 72 hours prior to your arrival.

Buying the Vehicle

Once you have determined that your vehicle will be admissible to Canada and have contacted the agencies above you can choose your vehicle and start the buying process. Every dealership will have their own processes for buying so you really need to work with them through this process. I do recommend that once you have found the vehicle get a Recall Clearance Letter before completing the transaction. You will need this document before you can get you Federal inspections forms from the RIV.

Also do some background checks to determine the history of the vehicle. Carfax is a good place to start but doesn't always have complete information. You can ask the dealership to provide you with their inspection report. When I bought my Toyota it has their certified used car warranty. I asked for that report as well since it would have to list all the findings when it was certified.

Once you are satisfied with the vehicle go ahead and make the purchase. Have the dealership fax a copy of the title to the border crossing you plan to cross at along with your completed copy of the Vehicle/Equipment Export Worksheet. Call the border crossing an hour or two after and confirm that they received it and it was completed correctly.

Crossing the Border

For me this was the most nerve racking part of the process. We have all heard about someone's neighbor who tried to bring a vehicle across and was refused. When I arrived at the border I went to the US Customs office and cleared the title with them. This only took two minutes, they stamped the title and I was done.

At the Canadian side you will be asked to bring all your documents into the office. You will need the title documents, registration, sales receipts, statement of compliance label and manufacturer's recall clearance letter. Once inside I was asked to complete form 1 and then I had to pay the GST on the purchase. I was informed that I needed to pay the import fee of $195 + GST to the RIV. I chose to do this online after I got home through the RIV's website.

Once You Get Home

As soon as I got home I paid the $195 import fee to the RIV. Also I had to fax a copy of the completed Form 1 and a copy of the Recall Clearance Letter to the RIV. They assess this info and will email Form 2 to you. This is required to get the federal and provincial inspections done. It took me almost two weeks to get my Form 2. After I received it I went straight to Canadian Tire to get the inspections done. The Federal Inspection was paid at the border while the Provincial Inspection was about $125. After about 2 hours the inspections were done and my truck was cleared.

The final step was to get the vehicle registered and insured. It took about an hour at the motor vehicle office. They asked about the different features the truck had and completed the registration process. I was required to pay the provincial sales tax and set up my insurance.

Check List

Before you import

  1. Make sure the vehicle is admissible by contacting the Registrar of Imported Vehicles. 1-888-848-8240 or
  2. Check with the RIV to see what modifications need to be make to conform with Canadian regulations.
  3. Contact the dealership or the original manufacturer to obtain a recall clearance letter. Visit for what is required in the clearance letter.
  4. If any modifications are needed contact the dealership or original manufacturer to determine the costs.
  5. Determine any taxes or duty that you will need to pay. In British Columbia , I had to pay the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Since the truck was manufactured in North America I didn't have to pay duty. Contact the Canadian Border Service Agency at 1-800-461-9999 to verify any costs.
  6. Make sure you have all the documents required. You will need to have the: title documents, registration, sales receipts, statement of compliance label and manufacturer's recall clearance letter.
  7. Check with Provincial authorities to determine any other requirements such as emissions test.
  8. Arrange for insurance. Generally a copy of the Title and the VIN is required to get and insurance binder.
  9. Contact the US Border Services Agency to determine border crossing contact information and get their Vehicle/Equipment Export Worksheet. You will need to fax a copy of the Vehicle/Equipment Export Worksheet and Vehicle Title to the border crossing you are planning to cross at 72 hours prior to crossing.

At the Border

  1. Go to the US Customs and clear the vehicle title. If you got it to them 72 hours prior to arriving at the border this should only take a few minutes.
  2. At the Canadian side bring in your title documents, registration, sales receipts, statement of compliance label and manufacturer's recall clearance letter.
  3. Complete Form 1.
  4. The Canadian Border Service Agency will clear the vehicle and check the VIN with the compliance label on the vehicle.
  5. Pay the GST on the vehicle.

After you get Home

  1. Go to and pay the $195 import fee.
  2. Fax or email a copy of Form 1 and your recall clearance letter to the RIV. . Wait for the RIV to send you Form 2. Put an email address on Form 1 while completing it at the border. This way you can get Form 2 by email rather then having it send by regular mail.
  3. Once Form 2 arrives arrange for your vehicles federal and provincial inspection. The RIV has made arrangements with Canadian Tire to perform these inspections. If you pass the RIV will send you Canadian Certification labels to place in your vehicle.
  4. Arrange to have you vehicle registered in your home province and get insurance.


This was a relatively simple process although there is certainly some anxiety when spending tens of thousands of dollars out of country. Be sure to call and get a verbal OK from the RIV that the vehicle you are considering is admissible. Get the recall clearance letter before completing the sale and have all you documents in order for the border.

We all like to talk about the one person who bought a vehicle in the US and was not permitted to bring it into Canada. This definitely happens but we never hear about the 500 or 600 people who successfully bring a vehicle into Canada. Do your homework, ask lots of questions and follow the process.

Update: The final step was taken today. I finally got my Canada Certification Label that I need to stick to the driver side door sill. This completes the entire process of importing my truck into Canada.

Auto Charity - Other alternatives to trading in your old beater.

Car Donations - Guide to donating cars to charity

Now that you have imported your new vehicle into Canada you have to decide what to do with your old vehicle. There is an alternative to listing it in the classifieds! Car Donation Guide

More by this Author

Comments 115 comments

CG 9 years ago

Hi, thanks for all the details. Just wondering, was your warranty covered in Canada once you brought your vehicle over the border and registered it in Canada? Also, how were you able to register it in Colorado? Do you have to have an address there to do so? Did you have to pay duty?

Sophist profile image

Sophist 9 years ago from BC Canada Author


As far as I know at this point Toyota Canada is still homoring the warrenty for vehicles bought in the US. Of course this can change at any time I am sure.

The vehicle was owned by the dealership and was registered through them. All I had to do was go to ICBC and get an insurance binder which covered me for collisions and liability for the drive back.

I paid no duty (Thanks NAFTA) since the vehicle was manufactured in North America.

GMCC 9 years ago


I am wondering what the "Registration" is. Is that spomething different from teh Certificate of Title". I am only familiar with what we call the"ownership" or Vehicle Registration in Canada. I assume the "Title is the same as our canadian "Ownership"..but what is teh "Registration"?

Sophist profile image

Sophist 9 years ago from BC Canada Author

THis is from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) website.

"The vehicle registration serves as an official record of your vehicle’s specifications and design. It also records any transactions related to the vehicle."

I tend to get a bit lost in the terminology as well.

Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 9 years ago from Burlingame, CA

I was looking at a used Acura MDX and the salesman said that he was probably going to send it to Canada. He said that the cheap dollar is has made Canada a great market. Very interesting. Several years ago we were in Vancouver and Canada felt like a 30% discount to the US.

Sophist profile image

Sophist 9 years ago from BC Canada Author

The dollar has seen a huge jump in the past 6 months. I missed it in Nov when the dollar was a $1.10 US. I bough at par.

Anyone buying from the US has to be careful about warrenties. I know GM canada won't honor a warrenty on a US vehicle registered in Canada. Absolutely call both the US and Canadian manufacturers.

Archbob profile image

Archbob 9 years ago

Wow, I didn't know that there were so many steps, I though you just had to buy a car and drive it across the border.

PerryB 9 years ago

Correction on the GM warranty!!!

I bought a 2008 US Buick Enclave (built before Sept 08)and had to have

the ECM reprogrammed or some such thing.It was done under warranty

at a local Dealer.The rule is that it must be have been 'in service' for six months or have 12000 kms since its in service date.

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desante 9 years ago

we are looking at buying a new enclave but no one will sell one to us, where did you buy yours.

Sophist profile image

Sophist 9 years ago from BC Canada Author

I bought mine in Colorado

chris k 8 years ago

what is the certificate of compliance, is this not attached to the vehicle?

Captain Iia 8 years ago

Very very useful article.I appriciate your knowledge.

thanks for the information.

Bernie 8 years ago

What modifications did you have to make to the Toyota Tacoma to pass inspection- ie speedometer, tachometer, odometer, day time running lights?

Sophist profile image

Sophist 8 years ago from BC Canada Author

I never had to do any upgrades. The truck I bought already had DRL and everything else was OK.

Bernie 8 years ago

Thanks for the reply. Is your trucks odometer in miles or kilometers? Does that make a difference for insurance in Canada?

Sophist profile image

Sophist 8 years ago from BC Canada Author

my odometer is in miles. I had no problem with inspections in and out in an hour. No problem with ICBC in BC for insurance.

Rushabh Shah 8 years ago

hey just wondering did you get the speedometer changed?

aaron 8 years ago

How much did it cost to get the daytime runing lights installed?

Sophist profile image

Sophist 8 years ago from BC Canada Author

Didn't get the spedo changed. It has KM/h in small numbers.Daytime RL were already on this truck.

Jane 8 years ago

I just want to say THANK YOU so much for the great advice. We had a tough time finding information but all of what we needed I found on this page. We have successfully brought our motorhome and trailer to Canada. Thanks again!


Sophist profile image

Sophist 8 years ago from BC Canada Author

Your welcome Jane. Glad to have helped. I spent about a week looking in forums and on governmant websites. Calling agency after agency. It was a nerve racking experience.

dusty's doom 8 years ago

you bought the truck i am buying, How much did you pay? did the dealer ship try and charge you extras for things you have never head of? were yo able to haggle/bargin the sticker price down? any advice would be greatly appreciated

Sophist profile image

Sophist 8 years ago from BC Canada Author

It is a nice truck. I paid $30000 for an 07 with 9000 miles. I brought them down $3000 but it was tough. There is such a hi demand for this model that they weren't really too concerned about dealing.

I never had any unusual charges brought in. I recommend that you get the recall clearance letter in advance. Other then that it was real simple.

TD 8 years ago

Did you take the copy of the title which was stamped through custom, or the actual title? Because I am selling my US car to a canadian and was told to wait to transfer the actual title to him via fed ex until his cashier's check has passed. In the meantime he can use a copy of the title to take with him. The buyer also already faxed the title copy 3 days ago.

Sophist profile image

Sophist 8 years ago from BC Canada Author

I honestly do not remember that. It has been over 7 months now and I just can't remember. Sorry

MicheleD 8 years ago

Wow - much appreciated! We're hoping to bring back a Suburban or Yukon XL. Actually tried to buy in Ontario - searched ever dealer that we're willing to drive to - only to find out that GM Canada will no longer inventory such vehicles, only build. SO - Canada isn't offering enough of a price break if it involves waiting and paying pretty much the base price, with a minor price reduction. GM Canada is forcing me to cross border shop since they won't stock the big vehicles, or make a SUV in diesel!

Mak 8 years ago

Thank you for the info very well done. I have a question. What is the statement of compliance label?


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sherlynavia 8 years ago from United States

Nice tips! Thank you for the information for which I have been browsing a lot.

Kivo 8 years ago

Did you have to pay State sales tax etc?

Sophist profile image

Sophist 8 years ago from BC Canada Author

I never paid any US tax. Just GST and PST

Elio 8 years ago

I am trying to buy a new MDX 2008 from USA and have problem because Honda prohibit dealers to sell Canadians new cars. If I do buy do I have to register my new car in the states before driving it to the border of Quebec, what is the certificate of title ??

Sophist profile image

Sophist 8 years ago from BC Canada Author

Since I did this almost a year ago I am sure that things have changed a bit. WHat I would do is call the RIV and see what the current regs are.

I went through having dealers not being able to sell to Canadians. I am in BC and encountered this in Washington Oregon. Idaho and all the states nearby. I ended up going further south to Colorado.

rickeroo 7 years ago

How did you get around paying US taxes?

How much did it cost to register the vehicle in the US?

new_roo_owner 7 years ago

Just bought a new 2010 Subaru Outback from a dealer in the US. The dealer takes care of most of the paperwork. The problem I am having is in obtaining automobile insurance for the new vehicle. The insurance companies tell me that they cannot insure a vehicle until it is registered in Canada (which could take 2 emissions testing, RIV process...Ontario DOT...etc). In the meantime my existing insurance policy will cover (liability) but if the car is wrecked, the insurance company will only reimburse for the old car's value (which is less than $5000 in my case). Can anyone offer some advice? Is it possible to buy some short term insurance from either a Canadian or American company?

Sophist profile image

Sophist 7 years ago from BC Canada Author


The dealership put a permit on the truck good in the US. I bought a retainer from ICBC in BC essentially an a to b permit. that was all


I got home and my truck sat for almost 3 weeks while I waited for Gov paper work. The inspection only took 2 hours then I got insurance.It was allwaiting for the Gov to do their bit.

Sharon 7 years ago

Thanks for all the helpful information. I would like to know if it is worth the effort to ship a car from Seattle to Quebec, as a gift. It is an old car (94 honda). We want to give it to our relative. Mostly the fees and shipping cost.

Sophist profile image

Sophist 7 years ago from BC Canada Author


I looked at shipping from Denver To BC and it would been $1300 US. Just do a good search for "car shipping seattle quebec" and see what comes up.

On another note.

I talked to the service manger at my Toyota dealership and he assured me they are honoring the warranty on US vehicles.

Basically the need a waiver or something signed stating you agree to pay the cost if the US Toyota rejects the charge.

He told me they haven't had any work done that was refused by the US Toyota.

Diabolo 7 years ago

Make sure you deal with RIV through the internet. Its way faster. Once I had the Form 1, it took be 2 hours for me pay the fees, send the recall letter and get my Form 2. In 2 hours i am ready for the inspection.

Sophist profile image

Sophist 7 years ago from BC Canada Author

Good advice Diabolo. Thanks

Tess Bernacki 7 years ago

Thanks so much for your help- one question- when you registered the vehicle in the USA to drive it home, did you have to pay a State tax?

Thanks again for everything


JasonS 7 years ago

Fantastic article, thx. Have been watching our dollar creep back up to par and am looking at buying the US. I'm also in BC so hope to have a similar experience to you. A few q's:

1) What did you say to the dealer to avoid paying the state tax? I hear they often make you pay it then leave it up to you to reclaim somehow -- sounds like it wasn't even an issue in your case but wondering if you convinced them not to charge you state tax somehow

2) Were there any other incremental fees when buying from the dealership? Stuff like a documentation fee or other such money grab.

3) The GST and PST amounts you paid -- did the governement base the calculation on the CDN equivalent of what you paid in the US? What exchange rate was used -- on the day of import?

Many thanks -- you've turned into reluctant expert importer for all of us.

Simon Q 7 years ago

I'm looking to buy the exact vehicle that you got. Which Tacomas are NOT eligible to come to Canada and how much more did you have to pay (GST and PST)?

David 7 years ago

Hey Sophist and JasonS - did you guys figure out the state sales tax issue?

I want to buy a new Volvo in NJ but have been told that the dealership will be fined if they sell it to me and it is not registered in the US. So, they say I need to either register it in NJ and pay NJ sales tax or register it in another state to avoid the sales tax. They are not accustomed to selling to Cdns so they are not entirely sure of the process.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

Sandeep 7 years ago

Hello all,

i have help my friends in the past who have bought from dealers and drove the F350 back from Texas to Toronto and we paid no States Tax - which would not make sense as we do not live or reside in the states.

However i have just bought a Jeep from a private dealer and he is asking to pay Florida state tax and i found US Customs who confirmed that is not necessary at all.

Quick question - how can i obtain temporary tags in FLorida to drive it back? THanks

Sophist profile image

Sophist 7 years ago from BC Canada Author

The tax issue was nothing for me. I think it depends on the state that you buy the vehicle in. I was going to buy in WA since it is closest for me but part way through the process they brought in a tax for vehicles leaving the state.

I paid 7% sales tax and 6% GST. GST at the border and PST when I insured the vehicle.

As far as which Tacomas are eligible? You will have to call RIV to find out the current list.

Jay 7 years ago

Contemplating a vehicle purchase in Washington or Oregon. What's the tax involving vehicles leaving Washington state?

Does Oregon have the same tax?

Can I drive the vehicle all the way home on the U.S. tags and the I.C.B.C. binder, or do I need B.C. plates once I'm on the Canadian side?


Sophist profile image

Sophist 7 years ago from BC Canada Author

I think it is best that you talk with the specific dealership. They will know what taxes are involved. I gave up on Washington because the tax was 7% for vehicles leaving the state. That with the gst and pst made for a lot of tax.

I drove all the way home with the US tag and the binder, no plate.

Rizwan 7 years ago


Please let me know if i buy from dealer in California they want to charge me state tax and they said if you do not want to pay then they have to load on to the Truck which will take your car to Canada . they said i cannot drive to Canada with out paying state TAX. please give me some Ref so i can convince them .

Harbir 7 years ago

Do you know where I can find the statement of compliance label on an Acura MDX.

Sophist profile image

Sophist 7 years ago from BC Canada Author

Rizwan: If that is what the rules are I suggest playing by them. Don't want to get to the border and have them tell you no enter.

Harbir: Call the dealership where you got it. If you bought it private I would still call an acura dealership. I really don't know. Sorry.

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speedgforce 7 years ago

Rizwan, this may be too late but I thought I could help. I just brought an Audi back in November from CA. California is one of at a least a couple of states that want their state sales tax paid if you drive on their roads. Get someone with a valid tag to drive it to Oregon, ship it, or avoid California altogether. I hope that helps.

Gary 6 years ago


I bought a used 2008 Mazda CX9 in New York. I also traded in my car with the American dealer. When I declared the car at the Canadian Border, I was charged tax on the full retail price of the car, not on the differnce between the trade-in value and the retail price, although that is how the GST is calculated in Canada. Was I overcharged tax? It seems like a double standard being applied.

Bogie 6 years ago

Thanks for the info, I am bringing a vehicle back on next week. What did you do about licensing.. did you have a trip permit from the US? Is it valid in Canada? Thanks in advance.

Sophist profile image

Sophist 6 years ago from BC Canada Author

I am in BC so I bought a retainer from ICBC and that covered me from the dealership to my driveway. The dealership put a permit on the truck that was good through-out the US. The retainer from ICBC was just like and A-B permit.

Lori Catz 6 years ago

Wouldn't it be easier to just buy it here in the US?

Sophist profile image

Sophist 6 years ago from BC Canada Author

Lori - That is exactly what this is about? Buy in the US and bring to Canada.

Wheels 6 years ago

Excellent advice, thanks!

Kris 6 years ago

I just bought a 2008 ford F-350, you got to do all that paper work before you pick up.

and also,, dont buy a lifted truck if your brining it to BC.

cant be lifted for inspection.

Brian 6 years ago

I'm in Edmonton and I looking to buy a GMC 2500 diesel. Can anyone suggest a dealer to deal with? Closer would be best of course but I will travel if necessary. Thanks

6 years ago

im looking at buying a brand new 2010 vehicle. ill call RIV and make sure in the morning anyways, but im wondering would the recall clearance be required for a brand new vehicle? even if i get it ordered specifically for me? how long does it take to get the recall clearance letter? how could i get the recall clearance letter for a brand new vehicle before i buy it or if i have it custom built?

thanks a lot for the guide. still working wonders.

Randal 6 years ago

Do you know whether Oregon has as similar "leave the state" tax on vehicles? I am looking at buying a new Hyundai - better deal in the states, comes with better options. I am also married to an American, so I doubt they will refuse to sell to us. But I dont want to have to pay 7% when leaving Oregon. That's brutal.

My other question is - Is there a way to avoid the PST in BC? I'm in BC. Its a Hyundai, after all - I save about 4 thousand on the price going south, but with the two taxes, gst and pst, it really cuts into the savings. Its such a lousy tax grab from the BC government!

josa 6 years ago

so im planning on buying a 1948 chevy truck to restore. it doesn't run or anything, so we will be carrying it on a flatbed. what do i have to do? and how much would u figure it would cost? the guy is selling me the truck in washington for $750 and ill be bringing it back into vancouver bc.

any help?

Jerry 6 years ago

Wow! This article rocks! Thanks for laying everything out in steps for the rest of us. I'm looking to import a Tacoma PreRunner & this will def help me get started. I also live in BC so it I was hoping to buy from a Washington dealer but we will see how it goes. Keep it up!

Ivan 6 years ago

You said you were able to purchase vehcile registration (temporary) from the state; what did you use for a license plate? One more question, how did you pay, by this I mean did you use a bank draft, did it take awhile for yoiur check to clear???? good info btw

Sophist profile image

Sophist 6 years ago from BC Canada Author


You're welcome


The dealership provided the temp. It was just the window sticker. I sent a bank draft and it only took a day once they received it.

Ivan 6 years ago

Quick response..thanks. So you drove it with no plate, just the window sticker?

Sophist profile image

Sophist 6 years ago from BC Canada Author

Yup. Sale person said it was valid in all states and was an A to B. My retainer from ICBC covered any third party damage and damage to my truck if I was in an accident. Had a trooper follow me through Wyoming for about 30 min and never pulled me over.

Ivan 6 years ago


Sophist profile image

Sophist 6 years ago from BC Canada Author

You're welcome.

I think anyone planning to import a vehicle needs to do a lot of calling and homework online. It is 2.5 years since I did this and I am sure things have changed.

Do your homework.

Matt 6 years ago

Thanks for the guide, very useful list of steps to do and websites to check, RIV, compliance, recall letter, etc.

Dianne 6 years ago

When getting your letter of recall, go to a dealer for your make of vehicle, I called GM in Oshawa first and they said sure they cud do it forms online, surprise they charge $250.00 to do so, dealer is free of charge.

Maureen Vallis 6 years ago

I'm selling a car to someone in Canada. Do i HAVE to send the title 72 hours in advance, because I won't have been paid. Will a copy be enough?

Sophist profile image

Sophist 6 years ago from BC Canada Author

At the time I did this the crossing needed the title for 72 hours before the vehicle could go through. I would wait until the funds clear and then submit the title. I am not sure if they require a copy or the original. Best to call the crossing directly and find out.

sharat 6 years ago

Hi, do we have to register the used vehicle here in USA first or can we cross the border and register the vehicle in canada itself. Just to save the registration costs. Thanks.

Natalie 6 years ago

I am importing a 2007 BMW 328 into Montreal, Quebec. The car is being shipped on a flatbed truck to my nearest border crossing which is New York State. The car has no do I drive it into Quebec? How do I get temportary plates? I purchase the vehicle in the State of Florida and they do not offer temporary plates.

brad 6 years ago

Hi, i am importing a RV from florida to canada and was told i have to pay 6 percent sales tax and also pay Hst when i get home, is this true , or is the 6 percent refundable. Not sure whatb to believe?

Joanne 6 years ago

Excluding purchase price and insurance, how much did you have to pay to import your vehicle?

jband 6 years ago

first of all thanks for this article! i'm migrating to canada from california and i have a 2005 honda crv, i have the pink title too, question is i am concern about the millage i will expend which is about 2,188km or 1,360mi going there, if i will ship the car, are they gonna do all the papers like RIV, etc.? and also do you have idea how much it will cost?

centercaps 6 years ago

Nice guide and tips on vehicle importing. Looking at doing this myself right now.

eddy 6 years ago

hey nice job men

Cyndi 6 years ago

Natalie - let me know how the BMW purchase goes. I gave up after I found out I would have to pay 6.1% duty on the car, %500 to BMW for recall clearance letter and $3500 to get instrument panels changed which can only be done by a BMW authorized dealer -- what a racket!!

sunny 6 years ago

thanks for this thread.

I've been working in California and bought an Audi registered here but now plan to move back to BC Canada and drive my car back (exporting from US and Importing into Canada). I don't think I have complete the REG 32 form ?, that's only for cars being shipped (on a truck or ship) and not for cars driven by themselves ?

So what do you have to do when leaving California ?

CJ 6 years ago

Sophist and all. Great article and some good discussion. This thread has been live for 2 years and the advice is still relevant! Good work guys.

Jon 6 years ago

Thanks for your thoughtful and organized checklist.

I noticed that you first registered your vehicle in Colorado. I assume that means that you paid the state sales tax and had it titled into your name.

Once across the border you said that you paid the Canadian Provincial Sales Tax.

Did you pay a sales tax twice? If so, what is the nature of the second sale?

I'd appreciate a response to the e-mail address attached. Thanks.

Mike 6 years ago

How did you pay for your vehicle? Was it through a draft or certified cheque? If so, I'm assuming it was issued in Canada in USD?...I'm thinking about buying a vehicle in Rhode Island that is around $30K and am not sure how to proceed with respect to payment...thanks!

sergey 6 years ago

Thanks for great post. Still can't figure out how to avoid paying state sales tax during purchasing a car for example at Toyota dealership in Massachusetts? They say you pay this tax no matter what. Did anybody have figured it out?


tommyt 6 years ago

its not that hard, do not title the car, have them assign you title and leave the state.

tommyt 6 years ago

I have bought many a vehicle for myself and helped friends.

Canadians: Do not title the car in the state you are buying it or you will pay local tax and not get it back. On the back of the form have the dealer complete the change of ownership details (which is similar to our process) and that is all. This with a bill of sale gets you over the border and allows you to complete the change of ownership once you meet the RIV requirements and complete the inspection. Word of caution, you can not cross without the original title and use Fort Eire as a border if possible, it is the least complex of all.

sergey 6 years ago


How did you get temporary plate? The Massachussets dealer I'm dealing right now says they don't issue those and sugesting to bring my own plates as a solution. Is it just Massachussets problems? Did anybody had similar experience?

tommyt 6 years ago

must be a Massachusetts problem or they just do not want to help you out b/c they are not familiar with dealing with Canadians...I would check with someone else in that state. Only other option is to find a friend with a dealer plate and use that...anything else would be illegal and if you get pulled over it'll be a mess.

sergey 6 years ago

Don't know if this was discussed here or not. Is it possible to sell recently imported vehical before register it and paying taxes?


kelvin 6 years ago

just wondering...where you required to pay sales tax on your vehicle in the u.s?

Car Donations 6 years ago

Thanks for the article. You have covered the details of brining a car over the line nicely. Thanks.

sam 6 years ago

I have a question. My brother lives in States and I want to buy a car from States. Is there anyway he buy that car and give me as gift that way I can show at the border tat its a gift then do I still have to pay HST or/and any custom fees?

Derek 6 years ago

im preparing to buy a used car in the states this year im hoping,looking at buying a 69 chevelle just wondering how dificult it is to bring a cross and what im to except.

Rapt 5 years ago

Thank for this info it is golden, going to import a Honda s2000 soon.

Ryan 5 years ago

I'm looking at buying a 2011 Denali 2500 diesel. the dealer in utah will sell it to me but says i can not import it in to canada until it has 7500 miles or 6 months old. I don't think i would have any trouble importing a new GM vehicle to Canada, is it just the US dealers trying to protect the Canadian dealers?

Hakim 5 years ago

Hi. I'm Canadian and I bought a car in Illinois a month ago. I paid 7% sales tax here. I understand that to bring the car back to Ontario (when my stay here is over in 3 more months), i will have to pay GST and PST there. So is there a way to get the Illinois sales tax back? I'm pretty sure double taxation is illegal. Can you tell me what I can do?

rotti 5 years ago

The government has no rules about "double" taxation. They tax,steal and pilfer at will.

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Tacodude 5 years ago

I was just about to close a deal on a new 2011 Tacoma with a dealer in OR and was informed that Toyota will not allow OR dealers to sell new vehicles to Canadians!

Can anyone verify or refute this please?


Kirsten 5 years ago

I work for a dealership in Oregon and we cannot export new cars. The manufacturer can yank the dealer's agreement or choose to fine the dealer for doing so. I've never had an exact reason given but it is a rule that dealers play by to the letter. I know that VINs are submitted at the border and shipping ports and the manufacturers check them - worked at another dealer and they almost got busted for exporting.

Michael 5 years ago

I realize you state the date of writing this partway through your post.......but as a matter of courtesy, on time sensitive information (e.g. anything to do with legislation/government that is subject to change) DATE the post right at the top so we don't have to search for it.

Michael 5 years ago

Kirsten, the reason for these 'strict' out-of-country (gray opposed to BLACK market) sales rules, is that USA dealers get much better pricing than Canadian dealers the Canuck dealers raise hell with the manufacturer when they find out (by looking at the VINs of cars brought in for service...or just talking to owners on the phone) that a car was purchased in a foreign country and 'imported' by the buyer.

In other words, dealers have "protected" territories. It's no different than electronics dealers or gas companies.

Michael Scott 5 years ago's not THE's EVERY government involved that thinks it can grab a chunk of your wallet. You bought the car where you bought it...knowing the tax rate and the rules.

You only have one way to reduce your taxes now and that is to live in the USA LONGER, so that when you return to Canada, the car is considered part of your "household belongings"...instead of a miscellaneous purchase you made while on a 'brief stint' out of country!

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CAB1234 5 years ago

Lots of questions about sales tax on a vehicle purchased in the US. If you are driving the vehicle in the USA, you have to pay (tax,tag,title) but if you ship the vehicle, you will not have to pay this. If you are buying a vehicle in Florida and bringing back to Canada, check out , they do all the work for you and it doesn't cost much.

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Hachey Imports 5 years ago

I have experience to offer with respect to all of the above questions. Please contact me at for any specific concerns. As well I will post here from now on to help with import/export concerns.

Take care.

scott 5 years ago

gst does not apply to used vehicles bought thru private sale. would you still have to pay it?

tx scott

kitch 5 years ago

My brother in the US is giving me his old truck. I was wondering what is the process to get it into Canada where I live and what cost will I have to pay.

Linda 5 years ago

It is not that easy if you are buying through a private sale and in some states like florida, they will not give you the temporary permit unless you pay the sales tax first. We are going through that now. Cal. is the same.

scott 5 years ago

im live in usa permanent resident so now im moving to canada permanent i have one car .. I was wondering what is the process to get it into Canada .i have to get any riv ?

Todd 5 years ago

Looking for a source that compares average used late model pickup sale prices state by state. Basically trying to find the cheapest states to find my perfect truck. Can you direct me to the top five cheapest states or a list of same?

It looks like Sophist is not answering anymore, so anyone else that may know this can contact me at toddco at hotmail dot com. Thanks

Chanselay 4 years ago

Question: Can I put my car into a US CANADA AUTO TRANSPORT it's a big trailer truck that transports car to Canada? Instead of driving it to Canada MB. Am I going to have the same process of paper works? Because I'll going there by plane. Thank you. pls. advise

doogie howser 4 years ago

what if the car i want to bring into canada has aftermarket parts like exhaust header or cold air intake.? also the car is de-badged and has dark tint. will it have to be brought back to the original standard condition before reaching the border or do i have to do it before RIV inspection (in Canada)?

John H 4 years ago

What would happen if the vehicle had a recall on it?

You have been a big help.

Thanks John

Ann 2 years ago

Just a note of caution- our car came into BC from the states and on our ICBC vehicle registration it's noted that its a foreign import. When we were looking to get a new car and trading this one in, the dealer wouldn't give us full value for the car because it was a foreign import. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but nice to know.

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