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Importing An Auto Into Canada? Confused?

Mar 25, 2008
If you are a resident of Canada you most likely will have seen many stories on the media - whether it is on TV or in the Globe and Mail or your local newspaper that car prices are much less expensive in the United Sates than in Canada. You may have wondered if you can save money and is it worth the effort. Yes it can be less expensive and well worth the effort. However it is a simple matter of doing your homework thoroughly and following the rules according to Government of Canada Transport Canada and the Registrar of Imported Motor Vehicles of the Government of Canada. It is not a very complex procedure, which is too difficult. That is as long as you follow the rules to the letter and in the correct sequence.

From the very beginning you must be stressed and you must understand that if you do not follow the Canadian and American rules for importing and exporting a vehicle you may well have very expensive auto, truck or S.U.V .stuck south of the border. As a result you will not be able to bring this car into drive into Canada to drive register it or drive it in Canada as a Canadian citizen or resident... In that case you will either be forced to sell your vehicle, at cost and inconvenience to yourself, to a person in the United States. It cannot be overemphasized that you have to do proper research, check and either recheck the rules, and then follow the auto importation rules exactly and to the letter.

Many Canadians have saved substantial amounts of money importing cars from the U.S. into Canada. This is even more so with the more expensive luxury brands and models. . Simply and exactly follow the rules as laid out, on the government websites or on similar pamphlets. If you are not sure - then ask .Either email, phone or both It's only a phone call or an email away. Nothing difficult. It all comes down to simple preparation. If you prepare well not only are these officials more than facilitating and happy to help you out. They will even assist you in either of the official languages of Canada- French or English. It can be said that in the end the departments will be collecting the same taxes in any event. On top of that, the humour is the best chance is that the vehicle itself was manufactured in Canada in the first place.

You may have heard many, if not dozens, of mythical stories of Canadians who saved vast amounts on car purchases by importing cars from the U.S. into Canada. Contrary to your research and readings you may well encounter skeptical and downright misleading information from either local car dealers or manufactures when you conduct research or read articles in your local newspapers or on Canadian television programs. Such objections may include statements such as "The savings (except for the highest end luxury cars) are minor."" The cars are not the same." ", The manufacturers will not honor new car warranties on new cars bought in the U.S. and imported / shipped into Canada. "These answers are either false or mistruths taken out of context. It all comes down to your research. Take time to clarify your research both to reassure yourself, to verify and as well eliminate false, wrong information and misconceptions and answers taken out of context. Again the correct answers may only be a phone call, email or one webpage away

You will save a fair chunk of cash. All that matters in the end is the final price of the product delivered to your door, driveway or parking spot. This is true in many, if not most cases. Again in the end all that matters in pricing out your car is what it costs delivered to your door - with all taxes and charges included. Even after including all of the Canadian taxes and extra costs involved, in most cases, you will save a bundle. To the largest degree currency fluctuations have made this so. The rise in the Canadian dollar has made this so. It may also be argued that the retail car industry in the U.S. is much more competitive than in Canada reducing prices by competition.

In terms of warranty coverage it is true that manufacturers do not cover warranties on U.S. cars imported into Canada. However the vast majority of car makers do cover the warranties. It's up to you to do your homework. Again either phone or email. It's always best to get the answer in writing. At the worst case with some brands, if you are being actively discouraged from purchasing the car, since it is a case that the factory warranty will not be honored if the American purchased car is registered in Canada, then if the savings warrant it, and the car is of a high quality product line, it all comes down to final cost savings. If savings are substantial and warrant the costs - then there are no shortage of very reputable third party warranty coverage providers , who will gladly sell you extended warranty coverage. The humour will be that in most cases the actual work will be provided by the factory authorized dealer service department - the very organizations that may have warned you of the perils of loss of service privileges if you purchased the vehicle outside of their sales areas.

You may consider that it is wrong, unethical or immoral to import a U.S. car into Canada. True most people like to be loyal to their local merchants. However under the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) cars are shipped back and forth among the NAFTA trading area (the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico) without extra tariffs and taxes. This has benefited the car makers greatly - allowing for reductions in costs due to specialization of factories and economies of scale. Before NAFTA each car maker has different factories in each separate country manufacturing select models and car lines. With NAFTA that can be scaled back to only several, larger and more efficient factories - each producing a certain model or car line for the entire NAFTA trading areas. If the car makers can benefit from the economies of scale of NAFTA why not you as a consumer? You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

Interestingly enough the humour is that same car, which you are importing into Canada, May very well, have been manufactured in Canada, for the North American car market. You are in effect repatriating that vehicle home. If the car is not made in Canada, but in the U.S. or Mexico, the same person and people will have their jobs regardless of whether you purchased the car in Canada or in the U.S. The one person or organization that gets left out of the loop is your local car dealer. True. However, it may be surprising for you to discover, that most of the profits of a car dealership are from service work of your vehicle, not the sale. In this day and age of computerized, technically difficult to repair automobiles, who are you going to take your car to for service, both warranty and non warranty related. The answer is that your service work, in most cases, will be done by your local dealer, whom you wish to support.

The basic rules in importing a car into Canada are as follows. First consult the Government of Canada site - Officially the "Registrar of Imported Vehicles ", also called Riv. This can be done by phone, email or both.

Transport Canada issues a comprehensive "List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States". This is your initial bible to consult - both in terms of admissibility and inadmissibility. Note that certain model years may have different rulings. It is up to you to do a thorough a complete job of research. Again phone, email to check and recheck if you are unsure or doubtful. .

Before exporting the car from the United States, you will have to fax U.S. customs the relevant documents 72 hours in advance. Next you will have to follow the procedure outlined at the Riv site of "What to do at the Border". This involves documentation, the paying of certain fees and taxes and within a set time an "Imported Vehicle Inspection" and certification by an approved automobile service agency. If modifications need to be done to bring the car into line with Canadian standards, these must be done. Certification again must be done by the approved repair facility.

Lastly remember that cars manufactured within the NAFTA trade zone do not pay extra duty. However extra duties on cars manufactured outside the U.S., Canada or Mexico may be demanded. By Canada Customs. Again it is your responsibility to do your homework.

Ensure that your paperwork is correct. Pay particular attention to the declared value of the car. Ensure that this is the correct figure that you paid. Do not attempt to have a "false bill". The Canadian border authorities have at their disposal accurate information as to market value of the car, truck or SUV in question. This is their business and they do the time. If you got a good deal fine. It does not make sense for the sense of saving a small amount of taxes paid to under declare what you paid and risk fines , penalties and even seizure of your value priced vehicle. Most likely you have saved so much money along the way, and even had a brief holiday as well. Why push your luck and take foolish chances for no good reasons.

This is a basic explanation of the steps required to import a car into Canada from the U.S. There may be additional steps involved, in your specific case. Rules may change over time, either overall or in specifics.

It cannot be overstated that you must do a thorough and complete job of research - either by phone, email or both.
Written documentation is most preferential over verbal. Check and recheck. If in doubt phone or email.

At this point in time, many Canadians have purchased a car in the United States and imported that vehicle into Canada. These smart consumers have found that the cost savings on purchasing their vehicle well outweigh their investments in time, efforts and extra work involved.
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