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Driving a U.S. Plated Car in Canada

Discussion in 'Settlement Issues' started by links18, May 31, 2007.

  1. Hello all,

    I just wanted to relay my experience driving a U.S. plated rental car into Canada as a landed permanent resident, as I know there is some confusion about this. I landed in February, but returned to the U.S. in preparation to move in September. I made a trip up to Canada last weekend via rental car to meet with a real estate agent. About an hour from the border, I remembered the issue of driving a U.S. car in Canada as a PR and thought there may be a problem crossing, so I called the border and asked. There response was that even though I am a landed permanent resident in Canada, I can still drive a U.S. plated car into the country as long as I have not "established a residence in Canada." In other words, if the answer to the question "Where do you live?" is still somewhere in the United States, you can drive a U.S. plated car in Canada. I subsequently arrived at the border and had no problems entering with the car. This is just my personal expeirence, but I thought others might benefit.

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing that information and your experiences with the rest of us at the Canada Visa forum.
  3. I can't find anything relating to driving a foreign plated car OTHER than a USA plated one. Here is my situation:
    1) Canadian citizen
    2) part time resident of Mexico, officially my residence is Canada
    3) want to go to Canada for a few months, driving a Mexican plated car

    - I know I have to insure it for driving through the USA and in Canada
    - this car is registered in my husband's name but he won't be with me
    - is there a time limit as to how long I can have the car with me in Canada? I am planning on being there for 2 or 3 months, then driving back to Mexico.

    Hope you can help. Don't want to drive all the way to the CDN border then have problems. thanks
  4. Sounds like that will be a problem, unless you plan to import the car. What I learned is that it depends on your place of residence. If your residence is in Canada, you cannot drive a foreign plated car in Canada, unless you plan to import it. If your place of residence was in Mexico then that might be a different story, although there are likely an entire host of insurance issues involved. Where is your drivers' liscence from?
  5. sally

    In addition to insurance for both countries, you should also have a notarized letter from your husband giving you permission to drive his car in Canada & the U.S. with the dates of your trip specified.
  6. Hello, Im an International Student, with a permanent residence of the U.S. i will be done with my studies in december, but im planning to purchase a car from the u.s. am i allow to drive my new car in canada while i finish my studies here in canada???

    I know that residents of canada are not allow to drive u.s. plated cars in canada, but im not a resident, im an international student, i have no right here to work, i only can study. but they told me that international students are considered residents, so this is confuisng cuase i do not have many of the rights that the residents have, such as working, social insurance number and probably many more rights, like paying cheaper tuitions etc... my driver license is from the u.s. and i definately have no plans of staying in canada after im done with my studies.

    also, they also told me that one of the reasons residents arnt allowed to drive u.s. plated cars in canada is because they could sell them. but even if someone wants to sell a u.s. plated car in canada they have to first get the plates of the province of where they are residing therefore going through all the importation procedures.

    thank you,
  7. links18,

    I reside in US currently under work permit and got my COPR for Canada. I will be driving to Canada as Landed Immigrant through Detroit Border. Can i use my Geico US Insurance while driving to Canada?

    I understand that i will be doing my Import process within 45 days of landing into Canada, wherein which i need to convert to Canada License plate and forgo my Geico US Insurance. But iam not sure if driving to Canada as Landed is possible with US insurance.?
  8. Hi

    1. yes, as long as your temporary status is less than 3 years as a student/worker or 12 months as a vistior, otherwise you have to import the car.
  9. Hi there. I am a Canadian Citizen and have been working in the US for 3 years on a TN1 Visa. Recently, I accepted a job in Toronto however I have 2 US plated cars: the first leased and the other financed. Since I'm moving from the US, what I don't want to do is have to terminate my lease or buyout my car given the I'd be out a considerable amount of money. I currently own a home in the US and plan on renting it out while renting a house in Toronto.

    Given that I would still have a "residence" in the US, my questions are the following:
    1. Would I still be able to bring and use my cars in Toronto although they have US plates?
    2. If I drive them up to the border, could I just tell the border patrol that I'm visiting Canada or on a long term engagement?
    3. Would I need to drive the cars once a month to the US to show that I still have a residence in the US?
    4. Would I need to let my auto insurance provider know that the cars will be circulating in the US?

    Any help would be much appreciated!
  10. Hello,
    I came in 2013 with my car shipped over from Europe with a temporarily work permit for 2 years.
    First of all, all cars have to have all US safety standards, all other cars are not allowed to drive in Canada.
    Then about driver licence: you have to get your Canadian driver licence within 60 days.
    Without a Canadian driver licence you can not get a Canadian insurance, and so no licence plates.

    About my situation:
    While I brought my car from the Netherlands, including the licence plates, I could drive for 60 days.
    The car was still insured in the Netherlands. ( needs English translation while driving).
    I knew I should get my Canadian driver licence, but several circumstances makes that I had that not done after a long time.
    Still I got my car insured in the Netherlands for another year, I kept driving.
    Several times I was controlled by the police, but all of them didn't know how to go by this situation, and they let me driving. ( only because I had all my documentation in English complete and an international driver licence)
    Finally I got all my paperwork done and got the car insured in Canada, and got the licence plates on it.
    It was going all smooth and fast.
    My shock was the differences between the monthly payment for the insurance. i paid $ 88 p month in the Netherlands, now I was going up to $ 215, because I am " a new driver " still after 30 years experience in Europe.

    To do / have for imported cars:

    Proper import documentation from CBSA.
    Canadian driver licence ( different in each province) and to state that you are living in Canada.
    Safety test.
    Emission test.
    Ownership certificate.
    Bill of sale from former owner.

    Tax exemption:
    only for diplomats, native Indians, and temporarily residents.

    Diplomats can drive with their foreign licence plates.
    Others have to change to Canadian licence plates.
    Temporarily residents have to pay tax when they get permanent status or they have to leave the country when their work/ study permit expires.
    Temporarily residents with a foreign car, even when it has Canadian plates, are not allowed to sell their car or to hand it over as a gift to anybody else, thus the car has to leave the country, or has to be wrecked with proper documentation.

    Everybody: good luck, and drive safe.
  11. Here's our 2c...

    Prior to our landing, we were in Canada in temp work permits for four years. During this time, we maintained US registration on our vehicle. At one point, we tried to do the duty-free temporary import that CBSA allows for up to 36 months from the US. We went through the 72 hours US export process, only to be told by the CBSA border at the arrival booth on the Canadian side that temp imports weren't necessary. Even when informing the officer about the Canadian requirement to transfer driver licenses in 30/60 days and vehicles within 90 days of arrival, the CBSA officer refused to allow us to even go inside to secondary inspection and discuss it with them (!). We tried this twice and had the same hassle. So we dropped any further attempt to temporary import into Canada. Figured we'd wait until we landed as PR.

    Then we landed July '14. We use NEXUS to frequently cross the border. Because our car is still plated in US, we have not yet updated our NEXUS records with a Canadian address. We still have a home on the US side and that is the address we maintain both our NEXUS and US auto registration. When we eventually register our car in Canada, we will update NEXUS to reflect it.

    For the past year, when we cross via NEXUS into Canada, they see our US home address on their NEXUS screen and our US plates so the CBSA officers have never bothered to notice we have landed. Recently, my wife cross into Canada in the non-NEXUS lane. She was sent in to secondary to explain why we have US plates. They seemed satisfied that we are in the process of importation.

    We have been slowly gathering the paperwork over the past year, doing the mods to the car. Imported the car last month through CBSA. Had the federal and provincial inspection at Canadian tire this past week. Just received an email from my US auto insurance with a claims history. I need to drive south this week to an auto dealer to get a current (within past 30 days) copy of the recall compliances and a driver history from the DMV and then will get the car finally registered in Canada this week.

    Taking the year to get the car imported into Canada does not seem to have imposed any problems for us.
  12. hfinkel,

    During the time you were in Canada on temporary work permits with your US registration, what did you do about auto insurance? I am in process applying for my PR under spousal sponsorship and also have a work permit. My vehicle is registered in the US and I have a US car insurance policy. However, my insurance company is saying that they will only cover driving in Canada for a total of 6 months in one year, which is the same thing I'm hearing from other insurance companies. Were you able to obtain Canadian insurance or did this issue just never come up?
  13. Apologies for the delay in responding to this. It has been a long hot summer of business travel for me.

    During the time I was present in Canada on temporary work permits driving a US registered auto, I used my US auto insurance for coverage while driving in Canada (GEICO). It is fairly typical for a US policy to provide coverage when driving in US, far more librally than Mexico where coverage under a US policy I understand is generally nil.

    On request, my US auto insurer provided Canadian-compliant insurance cards on request. This did not appear to be needed. The only time I was ever stopped by a Canadian police officer and asked for proof of insurance, I presented my US insurance card and the officer was satisfied with this as proof of coverage.

    I never had an incident in Canada requiring a claim on a US policy so I do not know how complicated matters become when it comes to doing so.

    US coverage is less than half of what I am paying now in Canada so using US insurance policy was nice.
  14. On the contrary, while off topic, the US police officer did not ask for my Canadian insurance papers, when he stopped me for speeding. Unlike his Canadian counterparts, he is so kind not to issue me a ticket and just a friendly reminder.
  15. This is great to hear. I currently have a PR application in (my wife is a Canadian citizen) and just today went and got a work permit for a NAFTA-eligible job offer. I had been "visiting" my wife, and actually had to leave Canada and come back in (I initially tried just swinging around in the "to Canada" lane and entering the Canada border without actually having crossed, but it was a no-go, they made me actually enter the US and come back).

    The car that my wife and I have is registered in the US, with an address that we can still use as it's a relative's house and where we used to live. When I got my work permit today, like you, I tried to tell the border that I needed to temporarily import the car, but they didn't want to hear it. They said to wait until my PR application came through, and import the car fully when that happens. My work permit is good for 3 years, so I'll be driving with US plates at least until that happens (hard to say, but I'm guessing another 6-9 months at this point - the spouse has already been approved as a sponsor).

    At any rate - I can say I had a very similar experience to your with respect to attempting to temporarily importing the car. It's good hear you had no issues with any police officers. If I do have any trouble with a police officer, I'll simply tell them that I tried to import the car, but the border patrol wouldn't let me!

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