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    Thread: HOW TO Thread - Importing a car from USA

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    1. Member Bugs's Avatar
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      02-05-2008 04:17 PM #1
      Before

      - Run VIN thru carfax
      - Check to see if the vehicle model/year is admissible (check riv.ca website)
      - If it requires heavy modification, call locally to find out costs
      - Call seller to find out if they'll sell to Canadian customer
      - Find third party to take photos of the vehicle, document scratches, visible problems, etc
      - If still under warranty, call manufacturer to see if warranty is transferable.
      - Call insurance company to arrange for insurance on the car (*** see bottom)
      - Get dealership to fax title (both sides) to you, so that you can fax it to the U.S. border crossing at least 72h in advance of coming back. (Port Huron/Sarnia was only port offering 24/7 crossing for vehicle importation, most are mon-fri 8-4)
      - If dealership is a manufacturer dealership, get them to provide a recall clearance letter (on company letterhead) stating that there are no open recalls on the vehicle.
      - If they are a private dealership, then you'll have to call the manufacturer's headquarters to provide this information.
      - Keep the fax confirmation sheet (hopefully includes the cover page which you've written the VIN on somewhere)
      - Call the customs office to see if they've received the fax (mine wouldn't confirm this, but I've read that some will - guess it depends on the officer you reach)
      - While on the phone, ask if the customs office will process automobile imports 24/7 or only 9-5.

      During Sale (while on-site)

      - Do visual/driving inspection
      - Get dealership to fill out "assignment" section of title (on the back)
      - Make sure the dealership name matches everywhere (my dealership did business under 3 different names, so I had to get them to sign an affidavit later, stating that they were one and the same)
      - Get dealership to fill out papers for manufacturers warranty transfer (if applicable)
      - Get temporary plates for the long haul home (get dealership to provide them if possible, otherwise, go to closest DMV)
      - Get photocopies of the bill of sale, title (both sides), other pertinent paperwork (just in case!)

      Crossing the Border

      - Make sure that you've provided U.S. customs 72h to process the title before crossing
      - Double check to make sure you have all your paperwork (bill of sale, title, fax confirmation sheet, recall clearance letter)
      - Go to US customs office, provide title, bill of sale
      - US customs will stamp it, send you to Canada customs
      - At Canada customs, provide stamped title, bill of sale, recall clearance letter.
      - Fill out 'Form 1'
      - Pay RIV fee, GST, duty (if applicable)

      Afterwards

      - Keep Form 1 in your glovebox. This is your "license" for up to 45 days after the import.
      - Form 2 should arrive in the mail within 15 days. If it doesn't, call the RIV office and quote the case number from Form 1 to find out why Form 2 wasn't released. In my case, I needed to fax the recall clearance letter to RIV before they would release Form 2.
      - Take vehicle to dealership (or if inclined, DIY) to get DRL's enabled.
      - Once you have Form 2, go to Crappy Tire and get them to do e-test, safety, federal inspection.
      - They will fax the completed inspection to RIV, but ask for a copy for your records.
      - Go to MTO office with safety cert, fed. inspection copy, title, to pay PST and get plated/licensed.

      That should be it!

      *** my insurance company gave me a bit of a runaround. Yes, legally they can insure an out of province vehicle. My company (state farm) needed several phone calls before finally looking into it. But of the 7 companies i spoke to, all was able to do it.


      P.S.

      Check out http://ebaymotors.aacb.com/
      They have an import calculator that will provide you a (fairly accurate) estimate for the duty (if applicable), excise tax (for A/C), GST and RIV fee based on your vehicle.

      PPS: Make sure you call border to clarify what they want on the cover letter. Each crossing wants the attention: made to different things (make sure to also include the VIN on ALL documents)

      PPSS: crossing in port huron was easy, 20 mins on usa side, 20 mins on canada side at noon on a saturday. The directions they gave me were a little vague. When you fax your stuff to your desired border crossing, ask for directions and where to park on the USA side.

      Hope this helps! These directions were from a friend who bought an Avant back in the fall. I followed only these directions, made couple adjustments as i went, and posted the updated info.

      Feel free to sticky this, so we can stop seeing 30 posts a day in this forum

      (o)\_|_/(o) 1974 Standard Beetle | 2014 Triumph Thruxton | 20006 GMC Sierra RCSB | 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited –OlllllllO-

    2. Moderator The Red Baron's Avatar
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      02-05-2008 04:20 PM #2
      Given the current demand for this information I have stickied this thread, please post any questions, comments, etc. pertaining to automotive importation in this thread ONLY.

      We do not need to have multiple threads on this topic every week.

      vwot.org

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    3. Moderator The Red Baron's Avatar
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      02-05-2008 04:23 PM #3
      Useful Links:

      http://www.riv.ca/

      United States requirements for exportation:
      http://www.customs.gov/xp/cgov...e.xml

      http://ebaymotors.aacb.com/
      - good link from ebay walking you through the process

      http://www.myborderpro.com/2006/
      - a site helping to calculate taxes/duties/fees associated with importing a car

      vwot.org

      In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught.
      In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity. - Hunter S Thompson

    4. 02-07-2008 09:03 PM #4
      One suggested addition...

      Before pulling the trigger, shop around for the best exchange rates. Walking into your local bank branch and asking for a bank draft in US dollars will likely not be the best approach. Remember, when you're talking thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars, a percent or two difference in the exchange rate can really add up.


    5. 02-08-2008 12:25 PM #5
      One of the best threads on this board for Importing a vehicle from the U.S

    6. 02-17-2008 10:29 AM #6
      AHH!!!!..cant wait to bring my 20th home!!!...

    7. 02-19-2008 01:42 PM #7

      I brought in a Toyota Sienna (minivan) and I could do it without a recall letter. I was faxed the recall letter by Toyota after the car had arrived in Ontario. It (the recall) was not required by the US customs (time taken 15 minutes) or the Canadian customs (time : 25 minutes) at around 9.30 am at the Queenston Lewinston bridge.

      The recallletter needs to be faxed to the RIV who issue (in my case e-mailed) the Form 2 that you need to take to the Can.Tire for inspection.


    8. Member Bugs's Avatar
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      02-20-2008 08:41 PM #8
      Just finished the last steps to my importation. Truck is now plated, stickered, insured, and canadian

      Make sure when booking your RIV test with Canadian tire to book E-test and safety. They ARE required.

      (o)\_|_/(o) 1974 Standard Beetle | 2014 Triumph Thruxton | 20006 GMC Sierra RCSB | 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited –OlllllllO-

    9. 03-19-2008 08:14 AM #9
      I still have my 97 Jetta, but just to let you guys know, I bought a new Subaru Tribeca back from Rochester, NY back in November. Very easy process, but does take a bit of planning in advance. I saved around 17K versus buying from a Canadian dealership.

    10. 03-19-2008 11:16 AM #10
      Quote, originally posted by huskylord »
      I still have my 97 Jetta, but just to let you guys know, I bought a new Subaru Tribeca back from Rochester, NY back in November. Very easy process, but does take a bit of planning in advance. I saved around 17K versus buying from a Canadian dealership.

      Well done, sir. There are definitely big savings to be had on Subarus. My neighbour picked up a Tribeca from Pennsylvania just before Christmas.


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      03-25-2008 08:09 AM #11
      What's the differences making a private purchase (from an individual)?
      And we pretty much assume that the vehicle is purchased out-right... a Canuck couldn't possibly get a VW Credit loan on a US purchased vehicle (or any other)?!

    12. 05-08-2008 12:44 PM #12
      Quote, originally posted by alphazero »
      What's the differences making a private purchase (from an individual)?
      And we pretty much assume that the vehicle is purchased out-right... a Canuck couldn't possibly get a VW Credit loan on a US purchased vehicle (or any other)?!

      All the info for a private purchase should be above, try re-reading the post.


      Question: has anybody imported a 'kit car' with a 'self-assebled' title?


    13. 05-20-2008 12:08 PM #13
      I know someone who has come from south africa a few years ago and brought his mk2 race car with him. The car was stored in a container with his belonging packed in and around the car so no one had seen or even asked if he had a car.

      He would like to get it on the road and he cannot because he does not have the proper documentation . They want to crush it!

      What can he do? What papers to file?


    14. Member Mtl-Marc's Avatar
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      06-15-2008 03:24 PM #14
      September 2007, US Customs at Champlain/Lacolle asked me to get the original title, no fax when I imported my 1981 Scirocco.

      If your car is 15 years or older, the process is simpler. No recall letter, and a few other details.

      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Eistreiber
      Yeah, I prefer slow-cooked bacon; and bacon grease saved is great for frying other stuff, adds some good flavor to almost anything. Except maybe tofu, that stuff is beyond help.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tavarish
      The car's best safety feature includes ejecting you in the moment of impact and wishing you the best of luck.

    15. 06-17-2008 08:48 AM #15
      Quote, originally posted by Mtl-Marc »
      September 2007, US Customs at Champlain/Lacolle asked me to get the original title, no fax when I imported my 1981 Scirocco.

      I had the same experience with US Customs at Ogdensburg, NY: they wanted the original title plus 2 copies. Always call the Customs office you'll be passing through well ahead of time and verify their requirements.


    16. Member Zuber Speed's Avatar
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      06-26-2008 10:31 PM #16
      Does anyone know of a border thats open on the weekends cloes to Buffalo?

      Im assuming peace/queenston is only monday-friday 8-4?

      What about fort Erie?

      I really dont feel like driving from buffalo to kingston or Port Huron Sarnia

      Suggestions?

      How long does it take to get a Recall letter?


    17. Member Zuber Speed's Avatar
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      06-27-2008 08:51 AM #17
      Just to add to the thread, here is a good link for contact numbers at borders in NY

      http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/too...1.xml

      Note: NONE of the NY borders are open for vehicle exports on weekends. Hours are ONLY M-F 8am-4pm

      Port Huron and Detroit are the only 24/7 borders


    18. Semi-n00b super_man's Avatar
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      09-02-2010 12:58 AM #18
      Just finished importing a used 2010 VW CC Luxury from the USA into Canada. Did the importing at the Lewiston NY border crossing. Spent 20 minutes with US Customs to export the vehicle, then 15 minutes with Canada Customs to import the vehicle. Followed the RIV process to a "T". Went smooth. The secret is to go early in the day and mid week, to avoid any customs lineups.

    19. 06-27-2008 10:36 AM #19
      Quote, originally posted by Zuber Speed »
      How long does it take to get a Recall letter?

      What kind of vehicle? Check with RIV, but a print-out from a dealer on dealer letterhead stating "no open recalls" may suffice.


    20. Member Zuber Speed's Avatar
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      06-27-2008 10:52 AM #20
      Quote, originally posted by chuckDD »

      What kind of vehicle? Check with RIV, but a print-out from a dealer on dealer letterhead stating "no open recalls" may suffice.

      VW

      They said, could take up to 7 business days, but doesnt usually take that long

      I need one by next weekend. If i dont have one by wednesday, then I'll call around at dealers.

      The guy already told me there are no open recalls on the car, i dont see what takes so damn long


    21. 03-04-2009 08:58 PM #21
      If anyone has any questions or is getting problems with importing please feel free to email me. We imported numerous Delta Lancias and Golf's Rallye's into Toronto and not to mention yorkdale size parking lot worth of exotics. I will be more then glad to help you.

    22. Member r32argent's Avatar
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      03-18-2009 05:32 PM #22
      A couple months ago I imported my '04 R32 without any problems. I went through Lewiston. I spent maybe 5 minutes on the U.S. side, around 10 minutes in Canada at Customs.
      Why is everyone who drives slower than me an idiot, and everyone who drives faster a maniac?

    23. Member Bugs's Avatar
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      03-18-2009 06:35 PM #23
      any additional steps needed for the R32 since it was it previously wasnt allowed into Canada?


      I hope to import my second US car at the end of next 2010. You sir, beat me to it


      Modified by Bugs at 6:42 PM 3-18-2009

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    24. Member r32argent's Avatar
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      03-22-2009 08:41 AM #24
      Quote, originally posted by Bugs »
      any additional steps needed for the R32 since it was it previously wasnt allowed into Canada?


      I hope to import my second US car at the end of next 2010. You sir, beat me to it


      Modified by Bugs at 6:42 PM 3-18-2009


      No extra steps -- I just followed the instructions on the RIV and Customs' websites for any other admissible vehicle (pretty much the same as described in this thread).

      Since I have OEM HIDs, I'd disabled my DRLs. Before I left the U.S. I modded some wiring to have a couple LEDs work as DRLs.

      Anywhoo, if the R's stock you won't have to worry about it.

      Aside: For some reason Canada Customs at Queenston-Lewiston couldn't look up my R's trade-in/resale value on their computers. I wonder how long that will last.


      Modified by r32argent at 8:45 AM 3-22-2009

      Why is everyone who drives slower than me an idiot, and everyone who drives faster a maniac?

    25. Member mushroom_curry's Avatar
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      03-22-2009 03:09 PM #25

      When you're importing a vehicle they open a file that remains valid for X number of days, correct?

      What if you have no intention of registering the car in your name and driving it? (ie: a totaled parts car you trailer home)

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    26. 05-11-2009 12:28 AM #26
      whats the talk about the Electronic Immobilizer System? As i understand, cas manufactured after sept 1, 2007 have these built in.

      Im looking to get a '05 350z, and i guess it wont be equipped with one. Will i need to get this EIS installed to get it imported? or its only required for cars that were manufactured after sept 1, 2007 that did not come with it?

      also whats the duty tax on cars made in japan?


      Modified by val@illicitvw at 1:11 AM 5-11-2009


    27. 06-02-2009 12:29 PM #27
      Wow,

      What an awesome thread. I am new to the Vortex and wanted to say thanks for putting this info together. It has saved me a ton of time and guess work!

      I am in the process of importing an '05 A6 that I am buying off ebay.

      So far everything with the car checks out ... the tip on getting an independent 3rd party to take the pics really helped. It took alot of the worry out of buying a car with stone chips, hidden problems etc.

      The ebay Carfax report was pretty impressive for a free report, but I still had the another check done by someone I trust.
      1 owner, regular service, nothing stood out.

      I put down a small deposit and am waiting to drive the car and do a physical inspection at the border before I complete the sale with the dealer.

      Right now I am waiting for the Recall letter and working on getting confirmation that the border (Detroit) has received the Title Docs.

      I am hoping to bring the car over the border this Sat... I will keep everyone updated if I run into an hitches anyone should know about.


      Modified by cwjstone at 11:45 AM 6-2-2009


      Modified by cwjstone at 12:11 PM 6-2-2009


    28. 06-09-2009 11:03 PM #28
      Just a couple of updates. Port Huron is closed from noon friday to Monday at 8am.
      The 72 hours does not include saturday or Sunday.
      You must have the original title and any original letters of lein release for US and Canada Customs. It is a good idea to print the Fax transmittal roll and have it with you.
      The Recall letter is required by RIV not Customs.
      NAFTA cars are exempt of duty- anything made outside is subject to duty. A "W" GTI(german manuf.) is 6%. Plus $100 air tax plus GST on the total of these and RST at the DLO Total of 19%!!!!
      You must have a bill of sale for Canada customs or declared a high price else you will have a difficult time with the customs inspectors confirming the purchase price including contacting the seller.
      Not all CTC are authorized to do the federal inspection. Ask!
      It is good to make a recall letter part of your original deal so if the car is subject to a campaign it can be booked into the dealer while you are waiting for the 72 hours. Not al Cdn divisiions will do the recalls on a US car.
      VW warrants up to 08 without any question. They will not warrant US 09s. The exception seems to be with exteneded warranty.
      DON"T USE CHEAPOAIR!!! Book direct with an airline . Its usually cheaperand always less stressful.

    29. 07-21-2009 09:41 AM #29
      I bought my '05 R6 last year in Boston. Had an excellent ride back, other then a sore ass.
      The US customs were great, no problems at all, but the Canadian side gave me huge problems when they couldn't believe the price I paid for it. Even with the bill of sale, they wanted to contact the owner and speak to him dirrectly just to double check on the price.

      They held me for about 30min.

      I tried my best to help them understand how I found this bike and why the person sold it to me at that price (rich, didn't care about the price, took the cash i offered).
      They couldn't get in touch with the seller, but they noticed I was very respectful and explained everything in detail. At the end they began to be very friendly and cool about everything.

      Overall I had a smooth transaction,

      But I never received the letter from Yamaha US untill I was in Canada with the bike, no one asked for it at the border. It did take 4 weeks though!!


    30. 07-22-2009 03:10 PM #30
      yeah the canadian side sure does ask a lot of questions...like where i found the car...and the specific web page...how and when i contacted the seller...im thinking they are flipping the information to marketeers or finding out ways to make more money themselves on the import business.


      Modified by ST33LR4T at 3:12 PM 7-22-2009

    31. 08-27-2009 07:51 AM #31
      its the gov't - they are always trying to find ways to make money of us

    32. Member
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      10-13-2009 02:20 PM #32
      Quote, originally posted by Bugs »
      Before

      - Get dealership to fax title (both sides) to you, so that you can fax it to the U.S. border crossing at least 72h in advance of coming back.

      I'm wondering - are you saying that you can do this before the sale? I've heard that some border crossings will only accept original documents (no faxes), let alone a faxed title that presumably doesn't have your name on it yet as the owner.

      The riv.ca website says that "You will need to provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection with your vehicle title documents, registration and sales receipts at least 72 hours prior to export." I dont' see how this can be done before the sale.

      Anyways, I might be doing this soon, so I was hoping you could clarify your comments - other than that, your checklist has been a huge help


    33. Member Bugs's Avatar
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      10-13-2009 09:20 PM #33
      Quote, originally posted by myothercarsaseaking »

      I'm wondering - are you saying that you can do this before the sale? I've heard that some border crossings will only accept original documents (no faxes), let alone a faxed title that presumably doesn't have your name on it yet as the owner.

      The riv.ca website says that "You will need to provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection with your vehicle title documents, registration and sales receipts at least 72 hours prior to export." I dont' see how this can be done before the sale.

      Anyways, I might be doing this soon, so I was hoping you could clarify your comments - other than that, your checklist has been a huge help


      They require a fax copy 72 hours prior to crossing so they can start paper work. You will require the original paper when you actually cross the border.

      And yes, you will need to have the car signed over to you before you cross.

      I had the deal finished, money wired to the dealer and title put into my name and a copy faxed to the border 72 hours in advance. When i crossed, I gave them the original and all is well

      its a bit of a juggle. You either have to go down and do the deal in person, and go back down later to get the vehicle, OR buy it site unseen

      (o)\_|_/(o) 1974 Standard Beetle | 2014 Triumph Thruxton | 20006 GMC Sierra RCSB | 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited –OlllllllO-

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      10-14-2009 07:53 AM #34
      Thanks a lot for the quick reply. I just called up a border crossing and got more or less the same response.

      The tricky bit is that apparently different crossings will have different requirements. Stupid but true. Some require original documents to be couriered, some will allow copies to be couriered, and some will also accept faxed copies (all 72 hrs before bringing the vehicle across, mind you).

      Oh, and to complicate things even more, the US Customs website specifically says that only the Vehicle Title needs to be sent 72 hrs in advance ... but the border crossing I called says they require the Title and Bill of Sale.

      Anyways, for anybody who's reading this and confused as hell, the moral of the story is:
      1) US Customs agents apparently make their own rules,
      2) There's nothing you can do about it,
      3) You better call ahead to the border crossing you're planning on using and find out what they want and when they want it (you can find the numbers on riv.ca).

      ===============================================

      There's a site that's full of useful information on this subject, but unfortunately its servers seem to be down more often than not. Luckily google has a cached version:
      http://74.125.95.132/search?q=...gl=ca

      ===============================================

      Oh, and for anyone crossing at Houlton/Woodstock in the near future, here's what I found out:
      - They require the Title and Bill of Sale 72 hrs prior to bringing the car across.
      - They "usually only" accept couriered originals (his exact words).


    35. 11-03-2009 11:48 AM #35
      I have owned my car for a year already and I'm wondering if you have to pay the GST if you have owned the car for a length of time and are not importing a brand 'new to you' car. I can't seem to find any information on this. Or do every car have to pay the GST on the invoice price regardless.

      Great thread BTW


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