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Why do many people want to import their cars from the States to Canada?

Discussion in 'Settlement Issues' started by J1visa, Jul 5, 2009.

  2. I found my previous post regarding the importation of my vehicle. I will re-post the whole (slightly edited) hoping you and others will find helpful. Just a few comments on the posts and questions I've read in this thread. My car was fully paid in excellent condition and still under warranty, and since I had no guarantee of employment it made sense for me to keep it. I drove from South Carolina over 2 days and entered as a visitor last summer. The distance was about 700 miles or 2 tanks of gas so it cost about $80 plus one hotel and some meals. I imported it several months after I landed even though the vehicle was already in Canada.

    For the poster who said Crappy Tire just turned the car lights to always on...I believe that is fraudulent and the only way they got away with it is that they also did the inspection. I set mine this way, but I was told by several mechanics (including one at Crappy Tire) it wasn't sufficient that I would have to have DRLs installed to pass inspection. If the car is licensed in Canada and your lights are not on, you can be pulled and ticketed, so be careful.

    My experience from the forum is that it is very difficult to get lenders or leasing agents to agree to exportation for reasons previously stated though I have heard of one exception. I don't believe duty free importation of a PR's goods extends to items purchased specifically for immigration. In other words, you are not supposed to buy a bunch of new goods (or a car) and try to import them duty free as goods. The only exception to this rule that I know of is wedding gifts for newly married couples. Customs expects the items you bring to be, well basically, owned and used by you in your home country.

    I was able to exchange my driver's license for an Ontario one without my driving history and without taking any tests except the vision test. Most states have an exchange program like that with Canada, but there are 4 or 5 that don't (for some reason Ohio and Illinois come to mind...or maybe it was just some states in that area). The DriveTest workers were striking at the time, but I was able to exchange my slightly expired license once the managers opened a few driveTest centers. I did have to tell the person I was dealing with about the exchange program, but she took my word for it.

    As to the poster who wondered if the could register the car in the US once it has been exported I don't believe that would be a problem. It satisfied US standards when you got it and exportation is only a check to determine proper ownership and that the vehicle being exported is the same as the one on the title. And one last comment, when I registered my vehicle in ON the guy kept my US title which put me in a panic. But apparently here, your registration paper counts as proof of ownership.

    So here is my old post. I hope you find it informative.

    ...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 from the DMV and copies of your claims record from your insurance company. You will them 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 also bought winter tires and special winter wipers for the vehicle that are not included in the costs above but were important for the safe operation of the vehicle in snow. I think some provinces require at least two winter tires, but I'm not sure.

    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.
  3. Allison, can you answer a few questions for me.

    I feel silly asking, but both our vehicles are in my husbands name - he will be the Canadian returning to Canada and we will 'land' together. Do we need to get my name put on the titles? Or as a returning Canadian, he should have the same process, from what I thought I read.

    The recall letter has to be within a certain period of time? I mean, did you end up having to get another (you had things fixed, so I suppose you did).

    Where do you get the driving record from, the insurance company?

    Thanks much, much!
  4. Your husband will probably be able to bring them, but I don't really know anything about returning Canadian stuff. The recall clearance letter was not very old, I got it after I came to Canada. I called the dealer and asked if there were any outstanding recall notices on my vehicle, so I took it to Buffalo for the work then requested the clearance. I don't remember if the RIV has a time limit for it. For insurance you will need a claims record from insurance AND a driving record from your DMV. You made need those for getting your license as well, but they didn't ask me for them.
  5. Thank you Allison!

    FYI for anyone who might stumble on this -
    I was able to find out that they do want it dated within 30days, the recall letter.
  6. Didnt you have to change your Odometer and Speedometer from miles to km?? That could be a huge cost (?)
  7. Does your vehicle currently read KM & MPG? Then all the research I have done indicates no, this does not need to be done. You can read both. I did read somewhere about people getting the electronics flipped to read KM but not the actual plate.

    I have read that if you wanted to sell it, then you may have/need to.
  8. My speedometer has both, so I just had to get used to reading the little numbers (and now I'm pretty good at converting between miles and km!).

    I did not have to change my odometer. When I registered the vehicle I was asked the current reading and I told him in miles and he converted it to kms.
  9. Same.
  10. I also plan to transfer my car from USA TO CAnada. I am not sure though if the bank will allow me to transfer car since they are financing it. I might have to pay the remaining balance if they won't allow me. My car is 2008 so hopefully it is included in the list that is allowed to be imported.

    My problem is, I cannot drive it from USA to Canada since I have to go back home first in the Philippines. Do you guys know any company that transfer cars from Usa to Canada, and I heard some of them will take care of the documents and you will be responsible for the other exams and test that needs to be done.

    I am not sure if I can finish everything within a month though. The paper work looks like it will take a long time. If its too much of a hussle, I might be forced to just sell my car again. But the idea of starting payment again in Canada makes me whimper.
  11. We have the same problem with the financed car. I've read in one of the forums that he/she had his/her car transported by US Canada Auto Transport. You can get a quotation from them.
  12. It is possible to import your car after landing (as long is it is on your B4 list of goods so you don't have to pay duty). You do not have to do it all at the same time and I don't believe there is a time limit to when you finish importing your goods. I imported mine about 4 months after I landed (though it was actually already in Canada) so if you can't find a company, or it is too expensive, you might want to consider leaving it in the US (with a friend or family member) til you pay it off and have time to complete the process. Just a thought...
  13. Allison did your vehicle have A/C and you have to pay the Excess fee on that?
  14. Hi Can, Yes my car has air conditioning, but I don't know what the Excess fee is or if/when I would have paid it. Can you elaborate?
  15. When I do the calculation on the some website which of course I can't find now :( it's coming up - I'm assuming it was/is to be paid with the 204.95.

    I wonder if since it's a tax it's not applicable.

    It talks about it on this website though - http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/pub/bsf5048-eng.html#s6

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