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How to import a vehicle to U.S.A.

Importing a Vehicle from Canada


Importing a Vehicle Purchased in Canada to the United States

Below is an outline of  the basic process to import a vehicle into the United States. This process applies to U.S. residents who are buying a light duty vehicle (car, suv, light truck) in Canada with the intentions of import it into the  United States;

Buying the Car You Want To Import

·        Deal with a licensed and bonded registered dealer who is held to a high level of legal standards.

·        When you pay for your vehicle you want to receive a paid bill of sale with the VIN# showing you and/or a spouse as owner of vehicle. You also want the vehicle registration/ transfer of ownership.

·        You should obtain a temporary license / insurance card from the dealer/ Canadian Province in which you are buying the vehicle - even if you extended your U.S. insurance to cover the it. The selling dealer should be able to arrange this for you.

·         You will be required to pay GST (Canadian Good and Services tax 5%) but, you will not pay PST (provincial sales Tax 8%) as you are a non-resident of the province of Manitoba.  You maybe eligible for a GST rebate, please visit for more info.

·        You should verify  the vehicle history using a service such as before making any purchase. This report will show you the history of the car, including any accidents serious enough to block entry or require additional testing.


Prior to importing your vehicle

You must contact the manufacturer of the vehicle and ask for a letter stating that your vehicle complies with all applicable U.S. safety and emission standards. The letter must identify your vehicle by the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This letter must also confirm that there are no outstanding open manufacture recalls on the vehicle. Read this letter very carefully.

·        If the manufacturer letter states that the vehicle complies with U.S. safety and emission standards and there are no open/ outstanding  recalls you are good to go.

·        If the manufacturer letter states that the vehicle meets U.S. standards except for minor items you may be able to have these things fixed by an authorized dealer and then present the invoice to U.S. Customs.

·        If the letter lists substantial safety items, such as passive restraint systems, you may be required to use a U.S. DOT-registered importer (RI) to modify the vehicle. This only makes sense if you are importing a very expensive car as the process of bringing it into compliance is complex and costly.

·        If the letter says the vehicle does not meet U.S. emission requirements you may need to import it through an independent commercial importer (ICI).   You should also realize that individual state emission requirements may differ from those of the federal government. You should contact your state DOT to make sure you know what is needed to register the vehicle in your state.



Taking an Imported Car through U.S. Customs

You will need to have all of the documentation for the vehicle with you when you cross the U.S. border, including your paid bill of sale and the letter from the manufacture as noted above.  You will be sent inside the Customs building to fill out form CBP 7501 and possibly others. You can find copies of these forms on the U.S. CBP website.
Customs officials will inspect the car and make sure it matches the paperwork you submit.

Duties and Taxes to Import a Vehicle into the United States

Most vehicles made in North America  are not subject to duties. For foreign-made vehicles, duty may apply. Please confirm with your appropriate government agency for specifics for the vehicle you are considering purchasing.

To qualify:

·        You must be driving the vehicle across the border

·        The vehicle must be for personal use

·        You must have finalized the purchase on this trip.

What to Do When You Get Back Home

If you have not already done so, get the vehicle insured immediately.

·        Take all of your documentation including the Customs paperwork and head to the State DOT to register the vehicle.

·        A few weeks later you will get new plates, and tags for the vehicle.



Below are some additional sites and tools to make the transition of importing a smooth one!

As soon as you decide to buy a Canadian vehicle you should review the website of each of the following agencies to confirm the required paperwork and current process:.

·        U. S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) for the port you will be using.

·        U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

·        Your Local State Department of Transportation



While every reasonable effort is made to ensure the accuracy of this information, we are not responsible for any errors or omissions contained on these pages. Please verify any information in question with the appropriate Government agencies.


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