How to Import a Car From the United States Into Canada

by Contributor

Importing a car from the United States into Canada doesn't have to be a difficult process, though there are important steps you will need to follow. Whether you are importing a car for your own personal use or you are bringing it into the country to sell it, the procedure is the same. Read on to learn how to import a car from the United States into Canada.

Before You Import Your Car

Check Transport Canada's List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States to see if your car can be imported, and if it must be modified, to meet Canadian requirements. The list of admissible vehicles covers passenger cars, trucks, trailers, motorcycles and snowmobiles that are less than 15 years old, as well as off-road vehicles manufactured after May 1, 1988 and buses manufactured after January 1, 1971.

Obtain a recall clearance letter from the authorized dealer or original equipment manufacturer of your car. The recall clearance letter is absolutely necessary to pass the federal inspection. You can call the manufacturer and provide your vehicle identification number to inquire about any pending recalls.

Obtain any modification information from the manufacturer or authorized dealer, including costs and parts availability for any required modifications. Any modification costs are up to the car owner.

Determine any additional costs, including duty and taxes, by contacting Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. The agency can reached at (506) 636-5064 from outside Canada and (800) 461-9999 in Canada.

Make sure that you have all of the paperwork that you need for your car. You will need title documents, registration papers, sales receipts, a statement of compliance and the recall clearance letter.

Find out about safety inspections or emissions test that need to be done. There may also be additional provincial or territorial requirements. You should arrange for insurance for your car before importing it to make the process easier.

Crossing the Border

Be ready to show your title documents, registration and sales receipts.

Complete the Vehicle Import Form-Form 1, which a Canada customs officer will provide. You must have a Canadian mailing address in order to complete it. Once the form is complete, keep a copy in your car until it is licensed in Canada.

Pay the Registrar of Imported Vehicles fee after the customs officer checks your vehicle identification number and manufacturer's statement of compliance label to make sure the numbers match. A nonrefundable fee of $182 is required for all provinces, except Quebec where the fee is $197. In order to pay Canada Customs you will have to use a major credit card. Canada Customs doesn't accept cash or checks. To pay by check or money order, you will need to mail it to the Registrar of Imported Vehicles.

Once the Car is in Canada

Receive a letter from the Registrar of Imported Vehicles, which should be expected within 10 days. The letter will detail the necessary steps you must take in order to bring your vehicle into compliance.

Complete the modifications to your vehicle within 45 days of crossing the border. The Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act allows modifications to be performed by the mechanic of your choice. Your particular vehicle manufacturer may require that you use an authorized dealer or agent to perform the modifications.

Present the Vehicle Import Form, the inspection form, the recall clearance letter and any receipts for modification work at the time of the federal inspection. A list of federal inspection facilities is provided with the inspection package that is mailed out by the Registrar of Imported Vehicles.

Present the Vehicle Import Form-Form 1 to the provincial or territorial licensing authority. Your car may require additional testing to pass provincial or territorial tests.


  • check To find out the typical modification requirements go to the Registrar of Imported Vehicles website or call (888) 848-8240.


  • close Payment of fees and the receipt of the Vehicle Import Form-Form 1 doesn't guarantee that your car will be approved for importation.
  • close If your vehicle fails its federal, provincial or territorial inspection, you will have 45 days to have it repair or modify it to pass the inspection. If after 45 days it still doesn't pass the inspection, the vehicle will have to be exported back to the United States.

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