So glad to hear that I was helpful, my info correct(!) and that you had no problems coming to visit and look for a place to live. I hope you found something suitable.
As per the requirement at some locations to import your vehicle at landing, I am not aware of the requirement that it must be done at that time. If you land at say midnight, it would most likely be impossible for you to import your vehicle if you haven't exported it prior to approaching the border. And I can't imagine a scenario where they would require you to leave the car or deny you entry because of the car. But, you never can tell with immigration, eh? All my border dealings have been with Queenstown/Lewiston near Niagara Falls. I drove my vehicle into Canada as a visitor last June 2009. When I landed in November, I drove my partner's vehicle to Buffalo to present my passport in person because the license tags on my car had expired and the new sticker had not yet arrived. When we left Canada again for Christmas we took my partner's vehicle to the Buffalo airport, and drove back to Canada in January on a 2 day road trip in a u-haul truck (complete with snowstorm in PA) and he drove his car own vehicle back across the border while I dealt with customs and my "goods to follow". It was nearly midnight (thanks to the snowstorm), and I imported everything except my vehicle.
About a week or so later I had to leave Canada again because my brother died unexpectedly and I needed to be with my family. I crossed the border back into Canada without importing my car because I didn't have the paperwork with me. I just explained to the border guard the situation, and he let me through without sending me inside the building. So a week or so later, I was back at the border to finish the process. Good thing I live near the border, I guess. All in all my vehicle was in Canada with US plates for about 9 months. I did not have any problems, except the occasion officer doing a u-turn when he saw no front plates on the vehicle. But once they saw the back plates, they didn't stop me.
I found my previous post regarding the importation of my vehicle. I am sure that you have already found some of this information in your Google searches, but I will re-post the whole hoping you and others will find helpful.
...finished importing my car from the US. The RIV (registry of Imported Vehicles) instructions require that you have a clear title (or a written agreement with your lender to allow you to export to Canada). The owner's name on the title must match the name of the immigrant importing it as goods. In addition the car must be deemed "importable" by the RIV and they provide a list of cars on their website. The car also has to be exported from the US and you must provide copies of the title several days before you wish to export. The US export officers will check your title, identity, and the VIN on the vehicle to insure they all match. The export office is only open Mon through Fri work day hours and Friday is their busiest day (reference to Buffalo border crossing at Lewiston).
All imported cars require a recall clearance letter which is easier to obtain (and get any recall work done) while you are still in the states. While you are still in the states get copies of your driving record and copies of your claims record from your insurance company. You will need both either to get your license, get insurance or both. In Canada you will have to pay for any recall work and THEN request reimbursement and the clearance letter from the US branch of your car manufacturer.
Then there are required modifications to your vehicle (like day time running lights) to meet safety and emission standards in Canada; because it meets US standards does not mean it meets those in Canada.
Here are the costs I incurred in the process...
Cost of the Recall Clearance letter $0, but I had to have several updates which required I return to the states if I didn`t want to pay the CAN car dealership then request a refund.
Cost to export $0, but took over an hour due to the volume of exporters...mostly truckers loaded with multiple vehicles
Cost to import $204.75 payable to RIV which can be paid online or at the border
Cost to install day time running lights $80 after some searching...Crappy Tire (the nickname for Canadian Tire) wanted over $400 to do the same work!
Cost for safety & emissions testing $39.99 and $89.99 cost controlled, I think, had this done at Crappy Tire
Cost to register and get tags in ON $125.00
Cost for US driver record for insurance purposes $7
Cost to insure the vehicle in ON even with highest driver safety rating (no insurance claims, no tickets and they want proof for the last 10 years) $1741 which almost $1000 more than my US insurance plan
Some of these costs also included taxes and some were tax exempt because it was on my goods to follow.
Geez, I'm exhausted just proofreading and remembering all the hurdles I had to jump through to get this done. But you'll get an idea of what you are in for. I suggest you run the recall check now and get fixed anything that shows up, and then request the clearance letter. Get a 10 year driver's record from the state where you are licensed and a 10 year claims record from your insurance company (make copies). You will need one or both for exchanging your license and qualifying for insurance. Make sure you have your car title and make several copies (export office requests two) in preparation to export. Then start saving for all the costs involved. I'm NOT kidding, the insurance prices in ON were quite a shock.
There are lots of "certification" or re-certification requirements here in Canada. Beyond bringing your driving record and insurance info, be prepared to submit any "international" diplomas for Canadian certification. Most services require your university to send directly to them a transcript and duplicate diploma. As it can take several months (at least from my university) to get those processed you may want to look into it now. World Education Services (www.wes.org/ca
) is one company that certifies academic credentials for a reasonable price. If you hold any other certifications (specialized like IT, microsoft, nursing, etc) those will need to be assessed too. If you intend to be employed in any industry that requires licensing start looking into that too.
If there is anything else I can do, please let me know. Feel free to PM me, if you want to ask more questions or for clarification. I am no expert, but I certainly am experienced in a few immigration and US/CAN transition things. If I don't know or am not sure about an answer I will certainly tell you.
Good luck with the move and best wishes.