Importing a car into Canada may seem to be a daunting task but it really isn’t too difficult. This past summer I imported one of the 2011 Subaru Outbacks and the process was incredibly smooth. In addition we saved over $9300! In this post I will detail how to DIY import a car to Canada from the United States.
How to DIY Import a Car to Canada
Here is the process:
- Make sure the vehicle you are interested in is on the Registrar of Imported Vehicles admissibility list. Some manufacturers do not allow their dealerships to sell new vehicles to Canadians.
- It is wise to determine if the manufacturer honours the warranty for your chosen vehicle once it has crossed the border into Canada. Not all manufacturers are on that list, such as Subaru. Some manufacturers have the owner pay for warranty expenses out of pocket and then apply for reimbursement.
- Find out if the vehicle you will purchase is subject to the high emissions excise tax. NRCAN is a great place to look this up as these taxes can run $1000-$4000 on inefficient vehicles.
- Check the list of vehicles that have had safety recalls.
- If you are buying used it is worth investigating the vehicle’s history and background. There are numerous online services that allow you to check the VIN number. The peace of mind is worth $20-30.
- Find out if you will have to pay duty on the car. Cars manufactured in North America are not subject to duty tax but those built outside North America are subject to duty under NAFTA. Duty is often 6.1% of the value of the vehicle. Even with duty, you can often still save thousands of dollars importing. Industry Canada can help you look up the vehicle you are buying.
- Arrange your currency exchange.
- Arrange payment, vehicle pickup or delivery. Delivery or the use of an Importer can make quite a dent in your savings, so carefully evaluate if you want to use these services. Some dealerships accept payment on delivery if you pick the car up in person. It is also wise to request a temporary licence that can be taped to your rear window. Don’t leave without an outstanding recall letter (if the dealership will provide one).
- Fax in a copy of the vehicle title to the U.S. border crossing where you intend to cross. This must be done 72 hours in advance of exporting the car.
- Arrange to get motor vehicle insurance for the car if you intend to drive it back to Canada.
- Plan your trip to the dealership where you intend to buy the car. Enjoy the journey.
- Meet with the dealership. Double check that the VIN on the bill of sale matches the one on the vehicle. There is usually a sticker on the driver side door that has the VIN on it. Complete the financial transaction.
- Drive to your desired U.S. border crossing and identify yourself with your passport and licence. The officers will check that the title, VIN and bill of sale. They will then release the title to Canada Customs.
- Drive to Canada Customs and identify yourself with your passport and license. Inform the officers you are importing your new car and fill out the Vehicle Import Form 1 (It will be provided).
- You also pay the 5% GST (QST in Quebec, GST portion of HST in Ontario and British Columbia). Your rewards credit card should handle these payments as most Canadian Customs offices won’t take cash or cheque payment.
- Customs will release your Form 1. Keep all your paperwork available in case you are pulled over, which is possible if a police officer sees a car with no plates.
- Drive home!
- You will now pay the $195+HST RIV fee, $100 A/C tax (if the car has A/C), duty (if so required) and possibly the aforementioned emissions tax.
- Within 10 days of submitting your Form 1 Canada Customs will mail you the Form 2 – Federal Inspection.
- You have 45 days from the day you submitted to get any required modifications done to your vehicle (common items include metric speedometer updates/display, daytime running lights, child tether anchorage) and have your vehicle inspected at Canadian Tire.
- At the inspection ensure you have all of the documentation you’ve accumulated. The Forms 1 and 2, letter of recall, title, bill of sale are all required.
- The techs at Canadian Tire will conduct their inspection. This will take 30-60 minutes. The inspection is included in the RIV fee you paid at the border.
- If the vehicle passes inspection, skip ahead to 25.
- If the vehicle does not pass inspection, determine where you want the upgrades done and get the work completed withing 45 days.
- Take your paperwork to the provincial licencing office and register your car. You will pay provincial tax at this point. Use your rewards credit card here as well.
A number of steps to take, but to save 20-30% on your vehicle purchase, well worth it. We will definitely DIY import a car to Canada again.
So are you shopping for a new car? Know what the dealer paid, get secret rebates and big discounts. It is wise to educate yourself about the pricing in Canada prior to looking to the south – you never know how much of a discount you will get by importing the vehicle until you really understand how Canada pricing works.