Border Crossing

Importing Vehicles

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a service to our visitors and no guarantee is made as to its completeness or correctness. All information should be independently verified with the relevant authorities.

Importing Vehicles into the USA

Vehicles imported from Canada must meet specific requirements before they can be brought into the United States. Passenger cars, trucks, trailers, buses, multipurpose vehicles, mopeds, motorcycles and motorized bicycles that are less than 25 years old must be intended for personal use and not for resale. The Vehicle must meet US emission, bumper and safety standards. Vehicles manufactured after 1978 must also conform to current bumper standards and vehicles manufactured after 1986 must meet theft prevention requirements.

If a vehicle meets these requirements it will usually have a label attached to, or near, the driver's side door. Vehicles that do not have this certifying label may have to be imported as a non-conforming vehicle. Non-conforming vehicles can sometimes be modified to meet Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation requirements, although the process can be complicated and expensive. A DOT-authorized registered importer can provide more information.

There may also be other requirements to meet depending upon your personal situation, i.e., whether you are a US resident returning with a foreign-made car, US military, a Canadian citizen moving to the US. The length of stay (and the length of stay for your vehicle) may also determine the requirements for importation.

Import duty depends upon the kind of vehicle being imported. Other tariffs include the "gas guzzler tax," which is assessed on many vehicles that get less than 21 miles to the gallon.

Importing Vehicles into Canada

Importing a vehicle into British Columbia has become easier in recent years, although it is still a multi-step process. Imported vehicles must have been manufactured to Canadian and US standards and must conform to Transport Canada's list of accepted vehicles. The list includes a wide range of passenger cars, vans, jeeps and other vehicles that are less than 15 years old, and buses manufactured after 1970.

Upon arriving at the border, the vehicle owner must fill out the Vehicle Import Form and furnish a copy of the title, registration and sales receipt. The customs official will then verify that the vehicle is listed on the inventory of vehicles admissible from the United States and check the VIN number and manufacture's statement of compliance.

Registered fees include an import fee and the Goods and Sales Tax (GST). These fees must either be paid by credit card or mailed to the Canada Border Services Agency (customs officials cannot accept cash or checks). The importer has 45 days to satisfy payment of these fees. CBSA will hold checks for 10 days for clearance, so vehicle owners are best to pay with a credit card and avoid the hassle of mailing a check.

Important: The payment of these fees does not guarantee that the vehicle will not need some modification in order to conform government standards - it only acknowledges that your vehicle model is on the list of accepted vehicles for importation. Changes may still be required to meet federal and provincial standards. The vehicle owner has 45 days to satisfy this. Once this has been some and the vehicle has received a final inspection by Transport Canada, certification will be issued.

Vehicle owners also should be aware that import regulations and fees vary from province to province. Check with Transport Canada if the vehicle will be imported through any other province than British Columbia.

More Information

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) telephone numbers for customer service:

  • Local: 202-354-1000

  • Toll-free (from US): 1-877-227-5511.

Also see telephone numbers listed under "Ports of Entry". For additional information, please visit either of the following web sites:

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP)

Also see telephone numbers listed under "Ports of Entry". For additional information, please visit either of the following web sites:


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