The ultimate 6 step guide to import a car from the U.S. into Canada (Photo by Filip Filkovic Philatz/Unsplash)

The ultimate 6 step guide to import a car from the U.S. into Canada (Photo by Filip Filkovic Philatz/Unsplash)

How to import a car from the U.S. into Canada

Patrick Peterson is a writer/editor at AutoDetective

Importing a car to Canada from the U.S. can be a massive pain and a test of one’s perseverance. It’s doable for sure, but prepare to put in a lot of work dealing with regulations and red tape at the border crossing.

This guide aims to show you the steps of the import process and how to do it right.

Step 1: Make Sure Your Vehicle Meets the Requirements.

Several different government agencies regulate vehicle imports to Canada. Your vehicle must meet the necessary conditions of all these agencies:

1. U.S. Customs Border Protection

2. Canada Border Services Agency

3. Transport Canada

4. Environment and Climate Change Canada

5. Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV), along with Transport Canada, must also deem your car importable. The good news is that most U.S. and Canadian auto regulations align with each other. Some vehicles will need daytime running lights and metric odometers installed, but most cars can be brought in “as is”. Here’s a list of allowed vehicles.

Step 2: Make Sure You Have a Title.

When it comes to importing a vehicle, the title is the most important document you must have. The law states that a title proves ownership, and without one, you don’t own the car you’re importing. You can only import a vehicle with a “clean” or “clear” title into Canada.

Anything else, such as salvage and rebuilt titles, are not allowed. Do a VIN lookup if you’re importing a used car to make sure it wasn’t involved in a wreck. If the title got stolen, lost, or destroyed in a fire or flood, you need to apply for a duplicate title.

Step 3: The 72-hour Export Rule.

Before you can import a car into Canda, you need to export it from the U.S. first. If you don’t declare you’re exporting a vehicle, you’ll face massive legal trouble if you ever return to the U.S.

Here’s what to do:

· Contact the exact U.S. border crossing you’ll be using 72 hours before you arrive with the vehicle you wish to export. Yes, it has to be 72 hours, at least, and you have to do it by phone. They rarely respond to emails.

· Send them a digital scan of the title (back and front).

· Send them your Internal Transit Number (ITN).

Step 4: How to Get an ITN.

Think of an Internal Transit Number as a license to import/export vehicles. There are two ways to get an ITN: become a licensed importer or pay one. There are plenty of professional importers out there, and they usually charge $150 for an ITN.

After you’ve chosen an importer, send them the following:

· A digital scan of the title (front and back).

· The value of the vehicle.

· Your full Canadian address and phone number.

· Your Canadian passport number.

The importer will rubber-stamp your documents with the ITN and send it over to the U.S. border. Please note that there’s no way to know or follow up if the U.S. border crossing received, approved, or denied your application unless you go there in person.

Step 5: Find the Exact U.S. Border Crossing Export Office.

Not all U.S. border crossings have an export office, but most of the major ones do. You need to call each one to make sure you’re using the correct border crossing and if they can accommodate you. Once there, the process is pretty straightforward as long as you completed all the requirements.

Step 6: Tax and Import Payments.

The process gets much easier when you get into Canada. After driving through the Canadian customs gate, inform them that you’re importing a car, and they’ll tell you where to go for tax payments. Depending on your province of entry, expect to pay GST and HST for the full amount of the vehicle’s price listed in the bill of sale.

Customs may give you a hard time over the amount, so be ready with a bank draft or any supporting documents that show the price you paid. If the car is less than 15 years old, you’ll pay a flat fee of $200 and an extra $100 if it has air conditioning. You have 45 days to register and install tags on the car once in the country.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit to find your dream car today!

Patrick Peterson is a writer/editor at AutoDetective. Born and raised in the automotive world. He’s a passionate writer who crafts exquisite content pieces about everything related to cars and bikes.

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