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How To Import Your Car From the US To Canada

How To Import Your Car From the US To Canada

If you’re moving across the border, chances are you’ll want to take your vehicle with you. It should be quite easy, after all thousands of cars cross the border every day. Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than simply driving through a border check post, especially if you want to keep your car in Canada to stay.

As a visitor, you can bring your vehicle to Canada from the States for personal use if you have a work permit or student visa as a temporary import but this can lead to complications if your status changes.

There are quite a few agencies involved in the entire process including Transport Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). While this may sound exhausting, importing your car to Canada isn’t really difficult, but it does take some preparedness and due diligence on your part to make sure everything is in place for a smooth transit. We’ve outlined the steps you need to take so that you understand what is involved in the process. Bear in mind that procedures do change so it can be a good idea to contact a Custom Clearance Agency like Border Brokers who will always be up to date with the latest compliance measures.

The first step you need to take is to check if your vehicle is admissible in Canada. Typically, all mass-produced cars can be imported to Canada, but there are a few exceptions including those cars purchased outside the U.S. or those assembled from parts. You can do this on the Transport Canada website. Some vehicles may require minor modifications such as day time running lamps or immobilizers, and all vehicles must be free of all recalls. The Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) is in charge of ensuring that your vehicle meets Canadian safety standards, and your vehicle needs to pass their checks within 45 days of import.

The Paperwork:

As with any cross-border transaction, importing your car to Canada involves a fair amount of paperwork with documents that need to be presented to both the U.S. CBP and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). They include:

  • Original title/Certificate of Origin
  • Bill of sale,
  • Added to original title
  • Need to provide AES Transmission Record to US CBP. 

Automated Export System:

On October 3rd, 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau instated a new requirement for vehicle exports to be filed in the Automated Export System (AES). Anyone who wants to export their vehicle outside the country must ensure that they have completed the AES filing protocol at least 72 hours before the vehicle is due to be exported. You need to file AES in order to receive the internal Transaction Number (ITN) to legally import a vehicle from USA to Canada. Check out this article to understand the AES filing process in more detail including what to do when you’re at the U.S. and Canadian Borders. Bear in mind that not every U.S. border crossing has an export office, so you’ll need to plan your crossing accordingly.

In Canada:

Once you have the necessary paperwork stamped and passed on the American side of things, it’s time to do the same at Canadian customs. You need to show:

  • Barcoded Cadex lead sheet 
  • The title
  • The Bill of Sale
  • Personal declaration document. 

Once in Canada, you will receive an e-mail from the Registrar of Imported Vehicles with your RIV case number. You will need to contact the RIV for payment, and next steps of the process which includes an inspection within 45 days of entry.As you can see, although straightforward, you need to make sure that you have ticked all the boxes in order to make sure that your car is imported to Canada smoothly. At Border Brokers, our Vehicle Release Technicians know exactly what you need for customs clearance as well as registration and titling. We will help ensure a simple process that give you confidence to cross, with low cost. Get in touch with us to learn more.