Want To Import A Car Into Canada?

by : Terry Z. Voster

Want to import a car into Canada? Is it a good idea or is it not? It has been oft quoted by prominent Canadian economist M.R.J. Labovitch that "Canadians are among the stupidest people who inhabit the earth ". Further the economist has pointed out that when the recent rise of the Canadian dollar - usually referred to in the trade of economists and foreign currency specialists and traders as "the Loonie" is way out of whack. Whether it is the price of bananas in Grand Forks North Dakota or pricing of cars - it appears that neither are fair and equitable when one compares dollar per dollar either prices of those bananas per pound or the price of a new automobile - whether it be an imported car , truck or SUV vehicle.

A Canadian shopping in the U.S.A. for a car and then bringing it in, (importing the car), through relatively standardized channels can save a wallop of cash. For example - an Acura MDX models starts at $ 40,000 in the US but $ 54,000 in Canada. Or take the case of Volvo cars - which are made in Sweden, nowhere near the North American continent. For the exact same luxury model - the S60 the "premium" option package the cost is $ 995. After extensive travel and research industry experts such as Winnipeg based William Simpson has come to the conclusion that the cost of this options package priced in Canada would easily range between $ 5 - $ 8,000 that is with this "premium "options package was available to the Canadian automotive market as opposed to piece-meal and ala carte.

The humorous part or not so humorous part is that it does not seem to matter where the car is made. Regardless of domestic or offshore origin you as a Canadian will pay a lot more for the same product - irrespective of any taxes paid. It is not a situation as with gas prices where the bulk of the cost of the product is taxation. In this case with no taxes, or taxes out, there is a large pricing difference to you no matter what Whether your car is made and manufactured in Canada, with all kinds of federal and provincial government support and informal subsidies and then treated as a NAFTA free trade vehicle or the car is manufactured far away in a foreign country or continent the pattern is all the same..

How does an average person and consumer go about importing a vehicle into Canada from the United States? Importing a car from the U.S. into Canada is a relatively simple matter and process. First the prospective buyer researches his car in a standard and normal sense. Next he or she should check with the Canadian Government agency to check and verify if the car, truck or S.U.V. vehicle that they wish to import is admissible. The website is easily found, in a standard manner, from the Canadian Government Department "The Registrar of Foreign Motor Vehicles "or Riv for short. The website can be found at www.riv.ca . Prominent on the front page of the Riv.ca website is "Importing a U.S. Vehicle into Canada Find out how."

The RIV's process states to check and verify: that your vehicle is admissible and can be modified to meet Canadian requirements by checking Transport Canada's List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States. The Registrar of Imported Vehicles program regulates only vehicles originally manufactured for the U.S. market. Vehicles originally manufactured to standards other than the U.S. or Canada, are inadmissible into Canada under the current laws. The program regulates passenger cars, trucks, vans, jeeps, chassis cabs, trailers, motorcycles, off-road vehicles and snowmobiles less than 15 years old and buses manufactured after January 1, 1971.

For information on the importation of vehicles into Canada from countries other than the United States, go to Transport Canada's web site as well as Canada Border Services Agency's web site.

Next in line with RIV's procedure is to check for vehicle modification requirements. Even if your vehicle was manufactured in Canada for North American requirement your vehicle must meet Canadian standards. As examples Canadian vehicles are required by laws and standards that both have car infant tether mounts and daylight running lights.

One more recent addition to the lists is for a simple recall clearance letter. The recall clearance letter sates that the vehicle has no outstanding recalls by the manufacturer on it.

The recall clearance letter must be on official letterhead from either the dealer or manufacture.

Either can simply issue the letter. However the letter is mandatory at the time of entry, in order to pass the Canadian border clearance process.

In order to "export "your car from the United States to Canada you must receive export clearance from the U.S. border authorities. This is mandatory and if not done can result in major fines - either now or later on a simple road trip "across the line". Simply fax the appropriate U.S. border post's vehicle export fax phone number at least 72 hours before arrival.

In terms of transporting your vehicle there are several options. Either you can do it yourself and perhaps make it a holiday and vacation of picking up your vehicle. In other cases either you may not have the time available or feel the drive is too strenuous. A processional car transport service can be hired to transport your new vehicle. On top of that if the vehicle leaves the dealer lot on a transport truck, its tires will never hit the pavement of the highway. The car does not have to be plated in the state. As a result the savings incurred in states sales taxes that may not have to be paid, may well pay for the transportation costs of the car carrier service. Of course verify all of this both with the dealer and the local state tax authorities before committing to any plans and the auto carrier transport service.

Next, after receiving clearance follow the process outlined on the Riv site at the Canadian Border Port of entry. Not all Canadian border posts are set up for this process. Generally the larger entry ports are. You will be asked to provide documentation as indicated on the Riv site.

Title, documentation and sales receipts are required. You will need a valid Canadian address to be eligible for this process. You will be billed by Canada customs a Riv fee of approximately $ 300, General Sales Tax (G.S.T.) on the price of the vehicle. In addition, depending on the origin of manufacture of the car you will be required to pay 6.1 % duty if the car is not made within the NAFTA Free Trade Zone (U.S.A., Canada and Mexico). G.S.T. in 2008 now runs at 5 %. Provincial Sales Tax payment will vary depending on the province of the owner and importer of the vehicle.

Interestingly enough if the car is a "Classic Car", older than 15 years of age; the car will fall in a different and much simpler procedure with few requirements and inspection. It all depends on the rules and modifications for that vehicle as stated on the Riv website. If in doubt phone. Remember that you will have to comply again with certain regulations - such as daytime running lights and other requirements in your specific locale and province.

All in all importing a car into Canada from the United States can be a fairly easy and straightforward affair, even if you do it yourself, without the need for a broker. Two factors come into play - always verify what the current rules are with the Government of Canada authorities - Transport Canada and the Registrar of Foreign Motor Vehicles (Riv). Lastly always pay close attention to fluctuations in the currency rates - Canadian dollars vs. U.S. American currency.

Lastly even If you have done all your homework you may be squeamish or not have the time and energy to physically transact the final importation process. Some people may have had previous encounters with the customs authorities.. Others may have their own reasons and just want it done right. For a nominal fee a professional customs broker can accomplish the final leg work. Such a trained professional can vette your paperwork and inspect it. A great amount of time and energy can be saved by using the services of a trained professional customs broker, who is both trained in process, and does it all the time. Often using the services of a professional customs broker is money well spent.