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How to import a car from Canada to the U.S. with relative ease


#1

As an enthusiast who also loves a bargain, I’ve noticed some great automotive values coming out of Canada lately. With the current strength of the U.S. dollar in comparison to the Canadian dollar, it’s no wonder that some Canadians are opting to sell their collectible cars on sites like Bring a Trailer, which cater primarily to U.S. buyers.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/02/07/how-to-import-a-car-from-canada-to-the-us

#2

Great article. As a Canadian, this is helpful if I consider selling my car to an American, as it can guide both the buyer and myself to make for a hassle-free sale (have all of these forms ready, to go along with the sale). It sounds like it’s much easier that the other way around (importing into Canada from the US)!

P.S. I was in Fort Wayne last year on a business trip. Nice place and friendly people.


#3

In the article you mention that duty is a hefty 25% on trucks. I’d like some clarity here - does that include light trucks? I’d like to offer my F150 Raptor for sale to American buyers but if they have to pay 25% duty that wouldn’t be cool.


#4

Having just successfully purchased a car on Bringatrailer.com on Friday afternoon, I imported a 1988 VW GTI Canadian Market Car into the US this past weekend, I can attest to the relative ease this experience was. Mine was a little different than described in the article as I live in Massachusetts where Temporary plates are not issued and so I had to trailer the car from Canada to my home state. I called ahead to the Border office in Calais, Maine and they informed me not to complete any paperwork ahead of time as they wanted to help me do it once I arrived. I had to present the original title signed over to me and all of the relevant information filled in (the car was titled in Nova Scotia, one of the few Canadian provinces that issues Titles), the bill of sale, and my passport. Since this car was over 25 years old and produced in North America I was able to get the car cleared with no duty/import tax. The forms we completed were: Declarations Page (this is the same one used by airlines when flying home from a foreign country) , Form HS-7, Formn3502-1 and Form 7501 (Entry Summary). The agent took the Title and Bill of Sale from me and proceeded to enter the information on his computer and then printed them. He then had me sign the necessary spots on each of the completed documents and then he proceeded to stamp them with a Red circular stamp and he also signed them. He made copies of the finished documents and gave me the originals to keep with the car. Upon returning to Massachusetts I had my insurance company complete an RMV-1 form and then I proceeded to the registry with the RMV-1 form, the HS-7, 3502-1 and 7501. The registry used the actual odometer reading, which in my case is in Kilometers but they don’t note that it is kilometers on their paperwork. The interesting thing to note is that when I was on the Massachusetts RMV website, they listed the things I would need to register an imported car and they only listed the original signed Title, Bill of Sale, Form 7501 (Entry Summary) and RMV-1 forms. But when I arrived they asked for the HS-7 and 3502-1 forms in addition to others I just listed (fortunately I had them all with me). I made copies of all of these documents to keep for my own records in case the registry took the originals from me as part of the process, and sure enough they did take them. I crossed the border on Sunday afternoon and had my car registered to legally drive by lunchtime on Monday. It was an interesting experience for sure. It was not without its stress points but things played out as I had hoped they would.


#5

Hi, I’m about to purchase a car from someone in Newfoundland and drive back to US through Calais, ME as well. Great to hear your story as giving em confidence on doing it.

The big question remaining is do I have to pay the Canadian sales tax (either general and province, or both) on purchase price of vehicle? My home state is going to charge me for that when I register and generate the new title.

Your insight and info on your experience would be massively helpful.

Thanks in advance.


#6

I had to pay state sales tax in Massachusetts when I registered/titled the car at the registry of motor vehicles. Massachusetts Taxes used vehicles based on the higher of the Bill of Sale price or the NADA value for the car. I was not taxed in Canada or at any rate based on Nova Scotia or Canadian tax rates. I believe that if the car was made in one of the NAFTA countries no duty will be due at the border…but if the car was made in another country then you will likely owe an import duty at the border crossing.


#7

Additionally, you can buy a 24 hour temporary registration from the Nova Scotia registry for $13.20 Canadian (as long as you have proof of insurance) to legally drive the car from NS to the US Border. Then you can use your US state temporary registration to drive the car in the US (assuming your home state issues temporary registrations.


#8

I was very happy to read this article. My entry into Canada (Blaine WA) included being sent to secondary (inside) because I was carrying $5,500 in cash. This did result in our vehicle and baggage being searched. Upon re-entry, we were scolded for not having our completed forms ready to be stamped. My partially completed forms were in my luggage in the chase vehicle. Because we were sent to secondary and the chase vehicle was not ALLOWED to enter the inspection area, we walked in with no DOT or EPA forms. After 90 minutes wait, the border agent filled out, printed and then stamped a DOT form. When I asked about the EPA form, I was informed that they had NO FORMS at the borders. This may have been avoided had I actually CALLED the border prior to my flight up, but this was a last minute trip and I didn’t make that call.

So I have an appointment with the DMV (5-weeks was soonest in California) but no stamped EPA form. There is a local Border & Customs office nearby, so hopefully I can get that sorted out easy enough. Also, Calif DMV does their own VIN verification - FYI.

Thanks for the article. It helped me to better understand the process.


#9

Was the Bill of Sale and American version or Canadian? Also, would there be a problem if the seller in Vancouver drove the car to Blaine, WA and we transferred ownership there?


#10

Hate to have to ask a dumb question here but this is not clear to me after reading several articles on importing a car from Canada. When you say that someone would need to have the Canadian registration with them to provide to CBP at the border when returning to the U.S., does that mean I would have to register the vehicle in Canada, or does that just mean I need the current registration of the seller?


#11

@bwdenman As far as I know, you need to buy the car in Canada, because you cannot bring a Canadian car into the US with intent to sell it - you have to fill out the paperwork when the car crosses the border.


#12

Hi there!

Is there any way I can get in contact with you?

Massachusetts resident going through this right now.

Best,

Matthew


#13

Two questions:

  1. The author mentions that he presents the “Canadian registration for the car” both at the border and back in Texas. Does he mean the former owner’s registration? Did he simply get a copy of that from the seller?

  2. The author describes going to the seller’s bank “to deposit the cash and sign paperwork.” What paperwork was signed? Just the title and a bill of sale?


#14

Another person here answered that he didn’t have to pay Canadian sales tax (Nova Scotia). I plan to buy a car in Toronto, Ontario, like you did. Did you have to pay Ontario Sales Tax?


#15

Another person here answered that he didn’t have to pay Canadian sales tax (Nova Scotia). I plan to buy a car in Toronto, Ontario, like you did. Did you have to pay Ontario Sales Tax?


#16

Sorry for the delay…I had not checked in here for a while. To answer some of the questions:

@quest32 - I bought my car from a private individual, so there was no sales tax paid in Canada. That may be different if the purchase were through a Canadian dealer. I paid sales tax in Texas when I registered the car and applied for a Texas title.

@bwdenman - The bill of sale was basically just a document the seller and I signed, summarizing the terms of the sale; it was not an official document. You need to transfer ownership while still in Canada, so you can present the documents when you cross the border.

You need the current registration of the seller, particularly because most Canadian provinces do not issue titles…the registration serves as proof of ownership

Yes, the former owner’s registration. At the bank, the seller signed the bill of sale and registration (Ontario does not issue titles for vehicles, the registration serves as proof of ownership.

No, I did not pay any sales tax in Ontario. I paid sales tax in Texas when registering the car.


#17

I just completed the process of importing a 2006 Honda Accord from Toronto to Seattle. Crossed the border at Port Huron, Michigan. I had all the paperwork ready to go thanks to your advice from this forum, and it went very smooth. Drove home cross country on a series of 3 x 3-day temporary vehicle permits. One odd thing is that US CBP Customs did not charge any import duty!!!


#18

This article was very helpful, thanks very much for sharing.
To answer Bill_lum, the buyer always pays the taxes when registering the vehicle.

My question for you is, the Canadian registration you presented was that of the Canadian seller, correct? You did not obtain registration in Ontario prior to importing, right?


#19

How will taxes and imports be calculated if the car is a gift? Market value?


#20

Question. So something like a 2006 accord should be easy using the substaintially similar clause, since the same model was produced in the US in 2006…
My question is, can a car that was ceased production in the US in '95, be brought in that’s a later model year from Canada? i.e. im looking at purchasing a '99 Rx7 from canada and briniging it to the states. I feel IF** i have a letter from mazda stating the crash tests are the same, engine is the same… etc as the '95 USDM model, i should be able to bring it into the US without it being 25 years old (as the US standard import law), yes ?