How to import a car from the U.S. into Canada
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If you want to get a car across the border from the US into Canada, there are some steps you need to take to ensure that everything goes as planned. It isn’t overly complex, but you do need to be aware of what is required.
1: Check that your car is admissible to Canada
Generally speaking, Canadian regulations are the same as those in the US. The majority of cars will be fine as they are, but a few will need the addition of daytime running lights and a metric odometer to be installed. The Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) and Transport Canada provide complete information on whether your car can be imported.
Any car that is 15 years old or older will be exempt from these rules.
2: Check the title
The title proves ownership of the car – without it, the law says you don’t own the car you are trying to import. The car must have a clear title, and it is worth checking with the local U.S. Department of Motor Vehicle offices to find out how to spot a bad title.
3: The 72-hour export rule
To import into Canada, you must first export from the US. You need to contact the exact U.S. border crossing you will be using, preferably by phone, at least 72 hours before arriving with the car you want to export. You also need to send a digital scan of both the front and back of the title, along with your ITN…
4: The ITN
The ITN, or Internal Transit Number, is required to export a car, and can be obtained by either being a professional, licensed importer, or paying such a company. Without the ITN, you can’t export the car.
To get an ITN, you once again need to provide a scan of the title, the value of the car, your Canadian address, your Canadian passport number, and your phone number.
5: The export
You are now ready to export, but you’ll need to make sure you choose a US border crossing with an export office. The office itself is often difficult to find, but once there, the procedure is simple and you may proceed to Canada.
6: Import and tax
The car must pass through Canadian customs where you will be required to declare that you are importing it. They will instruct you that a tax payment is required, and you will need to pay GST (and possibly HST, depending on where you enter Canada) for the full amount of the vehicle as listed in the bill of sale. Additionally, there will be a $100 fee if the car has air conditioning, and a $200 fee if the car is less than 15 years old. After this, you’ll have 45 days to register and plate the car to complete your legal import into Canada.
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