Importing a Car to Canada

9 Steps to Importing a Car into Canada

  How do you import a car to canada

You’ve just found the internets easiest to use, concise information in a step by step format describing how to import a car to Canada.

Before you purchase your vehicle:

Step # 1 – Find your vehicle (refer to section with web links)

Step #2 – Check to ensure your vehicle is admissible into Canada.
You can check this at Transport Canada's List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States
. The weblink is This weblink has a full listing of admissible and inadmisable vehicles. Scroll through and find the vehicle you wish to import. This listing lists North American and foreign made cars that have been manufactured for the US market. Vehicles that have originally been manufactured for markets other than the US or Canada are not admissible under the current laws. So if you are hoping to import an Aston Martin designed for the United Kingdom it might be time to start thinking about another option!

Step #3 – Indentify any additional expenses you may have to pay
See our articles on green levies and vehicle import duties for further details on these subjects.

Step #4 – Obtain a recall clearance letter (required)
In order to import your vehicle you will require a recall clearance letter. Obtain a recall clearance letter from the vehicle manufacturer or authorized dealer by sending a letter or fax requesting the recall clearance letter.

Step #5 – Purchase your vehicle
Once you have the first for steps in place, purchase your vehicle and have the dealer fax the bill of sale and title to the border immediately. You need to fax this information to the US customs officials at the border you will cross a minimum of 72 hours in advance. Failure to do this may impact your ability to bring your new vehicle across the border.

Step # 6 – At the border
Before departing the US, you must notify US customs of your pending vehicle export. This process is relatively quick, they will inspect your vehicle and hand you a form to bring with you to Canadian Customs.

Next, enter the Canadian border station and fill out the appropriate forms, someone will be on hand to help you if needed. The form you will need to fill out is known as form 1 and has an RIV logo on it. After completing this form you will need to pay GST on the vehicle and then you will be allowed to continue into Canada.

Step #7 – After you import
After you’ve imported the vehicle you will need to notify the RIV office in Ottawa. You can do this by phoning or faxing them. Once they have a record of your vehicle import status they will then send you a new form which you will need to use at your federal vehicle inspection.

Step # 8 – Federal Vehicle inspection
Once you receive your RIV in the mail or by email you must bring both forms with you for the federal vehicle inspection. You can generally do this for free at any Canadian Tire location. You may have to modify a couple of things on the vehicle in order for it to pass the test. The most common thing is daytime running lights, a relatively inexpensive modification.

Step #9 – Register your Vehicle
Once you have passed the federal inspection you can proceed to complete the import process and register your vehicle. At this point you will need to pay the appropriate PST and possibly get a provincial vehicle inspection.

Step 10 – Enjoy your new ride and the thousands you’ve save

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