You're excited but it sounds too easy. Don't take my word for it. Almost 200,000 Canadians import their own vehicles every year. Still, for some folks
they might not have the stomach, time or inclination to import their own vehicle. That's where import brokers step in. For a fee ranging from a
couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars, brokers will handle all the cross-border paperwork for you, the'lly pay all the fees and
taxes. Some brokers will deliver your car to your door already plated! Some brokerage companies maintain offices near or at the border, so they
don't have to send anyone out specially to deal with your car.
As shown elsewhere, the actual border crossing is straightforward, but make sure you know if your broker or you yourself cover the following;
(a) making sure that the selling dealer has faxed the MSO and appropriate documents to the US border 72 hours in advance;
(b) obtaining the Recall Clearance Letter from the vehicle manufacturers headquarters;
(c) Fax the Recall Clearance Letter to RIV.
(b) Obtaining Form 2 (needed for the federal vehicle inspection) from RIV
A few importers cover all of the above but of course your savings will be considerably reduced. You need to consider these costs into your
If you use a Customs Broker, you will likely be having your car shipped from the US dealer direct to your home. If you are going yourself, its just
not worth it to use a Broker.
Storage and shipment of vehicle
You CANNOT show up at US Customs unannounced. Your vehicle must be pre-cleared. It's important to remember that US Customs requires
72-hours to clear your vehicle for export from the US.
Some consumers, anxious to pick up their vehicle after the purchase have shown up at US Customs without prior clearance and were turned away.
In this case the consumer may choose to park their new vehicle and wait for the clearance, while others have simply crossed back into Canada
without US Customs clearance. While it is technically illegal to export a vehicle from US Customs and Canada Customs typically checks for the
export document, many consumers report that this process was often overlooked by Canada Customs. It's best to ensure these simple steps are
followed to ensure a worry-free export/import process.
If you hire a brokerage company to handle your shipment and import, they will look after the export process but storage fees could be incurred if
the vehicle arrives at US Customs before the clearance is complete.
Warranties - Transferable or Void? Yes on both counts
While some consumers could literally save tens of thousands of dollars buying certain vehicles in the US, others will choose not to because of
new car warranty concerns! What? Warranty coverage varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some honour cross-border sales. Others void
warranties in BOTH countries if a car is imported/exported by non-residents. Some offer waiting periods before they offer complete warranty
coverage. Since 2008 for example, Subaru Canada has the consumer submit the warranty repair bill directly to Subaru US for re-imbursement.
In almost ALL cases, those who honour warranties, provide the SAME coverage offered to Canadian consumers. If the US vehicle comes with a 5
year bumper-to-bumber but only three years are offered on Canadian purchases, you forfeit the two extra years when you import. This is a small
price to pay if you save considerable cash buying in the US. It defeats the purpose if you're only saving a few thousand dollars. Look at this
carefully and make your own decision. Some consumers will risk NO WARRANTY coverage to save $5000 while others won't consider it an
option. You'll need to determine what is palatable to you.
Warranty information changes from model year to model year. Some manufacturers don't honour warranties on all their model lines, others do.
Some manufacturers want a few THOUSAND dollars to transfer a US vehicle into their Canadian warranty program.
You may also choose to purchase extended warranty coverage in the US but not ALL third-party warranties are transferable to Canada.
An excellent resource of current warranties could be read at the Automobile Protection Association website.
Transit and temporary permits
Like in almost all provinces, many US jurisdictions require proof of automobile insurance before you are able to drive the vehicle away from
the dealership. Many US states also require temporary state insurance and transit or temporary permits to be purchased as well. These costs
are typically insignificant. Some consumers have purchased transit permits from their home jurisdiction.
While unproven, many consumers report little or no issues crossing state lines with provincial transit permits. Local police authorities have
personally told me that they wouldn't normally question a transit permit when accompanied by a recent bill of sale and ownership papers.
It's best to check with the jurisdiction where you purchase the vehicle for specific requirements. In my case, I purchased a vehicle in NY state
and I was required to buy temporary NY insurance and a transit permit. My insurance company also requested that I acquire a provincial transit
permit during the registration process.
Note: In Ontario, a transit permit is only valid on a vehicle that is undergoing the registration process and cannot be used to drive your new
vehicle around while you wait for the RIV inspection FORM2.