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Vehicle Import Checklist. Bringing your car from the U.S.

Please note that the following checklist only covers vehicles originally manufactured for the U.S. market less than 15 years old and buses manufactured after January 1, 1971. Vehicles originally manufactured to standards other than the U.S. or Canada are inadmissible into Canada under the current laws.

For information on importing vehicles into Canada from countries other than the United States, we suggest you visit the Transport Canada and Canada Border Services Agency web sites.

Before you Import a Vehicle

  1. Check Transport Canada’s List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States to make sure the vehicle you wish to import is admissible to Canada and can be modified to meet Canadian import requirements.
  2. Check the modification requirements your vehicle will need so that it may be imported to Canada. These requirements can be found at the Registrar of Imported Vehicles website (RIV) http://www.riv.ca/, or by contacting the RIV by phone at 1-888-848-8240.
  3. Contact the manufacturer or authorized dealer of the vehicle to obtain costs and availability of parts for the required modifications. Some manufacturers require authorized dealers to perform theses modifications. You are responsible for all modification costs.
  4. Find out about any additional provincial or territorial requirements, such as safety inspections and emissions tests.
  5. Find out which additional costs, such as duties and taxes, will apply to the importation of your vehicle. Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for assessing and collecting duties and taxes. You should contact CBSA prior to importing your vehicle to see which import duties and taxes may apply to your vehicle. You can reach CBSA at 1-800-461-9999 (in Canada) or (506) 636-5064 (outside Canada).
  6. Arrange for insurance on your vehicle with a Canadian insurance company prior to importing your vehicle. Be sure that your insurance covers you during your time in the United States. Your coverage should begin on the day you purchase the car.
  7. Contact the original equipment manufacturer or authorized dealer of your vehicle to obtain a recall clearance letter. You must have this document in order to pass the federal inspection.
  8. Obtain a one month temporary license plate from the dealer you purchase your car from that allows you to drive the vehicle in the U.S. and Canada while you are completing the import process.
  9. Be sure that you have the following required documentation: Certificate of Title documents, registration, sales receipts, statement of compliance label and manufacturer’s recall clearance letter.
  10. U.S. Customs requires notification of all vehicles being permanently exported from the United States. US Customs regulations state that the following requirements must be met when you bring your are bringing your vehicle to a land border point for export:*The required vehicle export documentation must be submitted to U.S. Customs at least 72 hours prior to export (you should leave yourself sufficient time to fax these documents to the border crossing where you will be leaving the United States, and call to confirm that they have been received within the required timeframe); and
    *The vehicle must be presented to U.S. Customs at the time of export. U.S. Customs recommends that you contact the port of crossing directly to determine hours of operation and exact documentation requirements.
  11. If you are importing a trailer, you may call RIV at 1-888-848-8240 to have your Vehicle Identification Number verified ahead of time. At the Border – Vehicle Import Process
  12. Have your Certificate of Title stamped at the U.S. Customs office.
  13. Drive your car to the Canadian Customs office and give them your title documents, registration and sales receipts.
  14. Complete the Vehicle Import Form (Form 1), which will be provided to you by CBSA. This form requires a Canadian mailing address. You must keep the form in the vehicle until it is licensed.
  15. CBSA will check your vehicle against Transport Canada’s List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States. They will also verify the public VIN and manufacturer’s statement of compliance label on the vehicle to make sure they match.
  16. CBSA will collect your nonrefundable Registrar of Imported Vehicles’ fee of $195.00 + GST in all provinces except Quebec where it is $195.00 + GST and QST.
  17. Payment for the RIV fee may be made directly to Canada Border Services Agency with any major credit card. CBSA does not accept cash or cheques for the RIV fee. On-Line payment may be made through RIV’s website under How to Import, On-Line Payment (Visa or Master Card).
  18. It is important to remember that payment of fees and receipt of the Form 1 does not warrant that your vehicle is capable of being brought into compliance with all applicable Canadian laws.
  19. It is advisable that you pay the RIV fee at the point of entry, since RIV will not issue a federal inspection form – Form 2 or any specific modification information for a vehicle with an unpaid file. It is important that you do not proceed with any modifications on your vehicle until you receive this federal inspection form. If your file remains unpaid for 14 days after importation, RIV will send you a payment reminder notice. If you have still not paid the RIV fee within the proscribed 45 days after the date of importation, your file will be forwarded to Transport Canada for enforcement. The compliance status of every vehicle brought into Canada through the RIV system is shared with all provincial and territorial licensing jurisdictions. If you do not comply with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, it may result in a refusal to license the vehicle, or the revocation of an existing vehicle registration. 

After Your Vehicle Arrives in Canada

  1. After payment and the recall clearance documentation have been received by the RIV, a Vehicle Inspection Form (Form 2) will be mailed to you that details what must be done to your vehicle to bring it into compliance. You should receive this form within 1 – 2 weeks after you pass through the border.
  2. You are responsible for completing the necessary modifications to your vehicle within 45 days of the clearance date. You can have the required modifications done by the mechanic of your choice. However, RIV recommends that you contact the original equipment manufacturer to discuss appropriate parts or warranty issues. Ensure that you keep receipts for parts and labour, to present at your vehicle inspection, along with your Form 1, Form 2 and the recall clearance letter.
  3. RIV has contracted with Canadian Tire to perform their federal inspections.
  4. When you pass your vehicle inspection, the inspection centre will stamp your Form 1, which you will have to present to your provincial or territorial licensing authority, which may have additional testing requirements.
  5. Within approximately one week after passing your federal inspection, RIV will send you a new Canadian Certification label with instructions on where to affix it to your vehicle.
  6. If the vehicle fails the inspection, you’ll have to pay additional charges for another inspection. If the vehicle cannot pass the inspection within the 45 days, it will have to be exported back to the United States.
  7. If you are having trouble meeting the 45-day deadline or other questions, RIV may be able to help you. You can contact them by email at info@riv.ca, or by phone at 1-888-848-8240.