9 Steps to Importing a Vehicle into Canada from the U.S.

Importing a vehicle to canada: 

importing a vehicle to canada

Importing a vehicle to canada is regulated by several different government agencies, importing a vehicle tends to be a multistage process.

Transport Canada defines a “vehicle” as any means of transport that is capable of being driven or drawn on roads, by any means other than muscular power exclusively, but that does not run exclusively on rails.

This includes not only motor vehicles, but also recreational, camping, boat trailers, horse and stock trailers, as well as wood chippers, generators or any other equipment mounted on rims and tires requiring a human operator to be on board.

Whether you are importing a commercial or a recreational vehicle from the United States into Canada, the steps below will help you avoid having the vehicle refused entry, delays at the border, and possible penalties with Canada Border Services Agency.

We have broken the complex process of importing a vehicle into Canada into nine major steps:

1. Ensure vehicle admissibility before importing a vehicle to Canada from the U.S.

Your vehicle must meet the requirements of all 5 of these organizations:

  1. The Canada Border Services Agency
  2. Transport Canada
  3. Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  4. Environment and Climate Change Canada
  5. the US Customs Border Protection

Once you have determined that it does, then it must be on Transport Canada’s list of admissible vehicles and successfully pass the Registrar of Imported Vehicles inspection before it can be imported. If your vehicle is not admissible, importing the vehicle into Canada could be a costly disappointment.

For example:

Before you import a vehicle, you need to contact the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV). The RIV is an agency contracted by Transport Canada to administer a national program to ensure that imported vehicles are brought into compliance with Canada’s safety standards.

We recommend you verify with the RIV whether the vehicle is admissible into Canada. Inquire about the RIV program, vehicle admissibility, RIV exemptions, recall clearance information, vehicle modification requirements and vehicle branding history. It does sound like a lot, so use this checklist to help you with the process to import a vehicle if you are doing it yourself importer check list.

2. Meet documentation requirements for importing a vehicle to Canada

Ensure you have the required documents for RIV,  U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Canada Border Services Agency, below is a list of that documentation:

  • Original Title, Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin or Certificate of Origin (front and back). Should your vehicle not be required to have one of the these documents, then you must provide a Certificate of No Title
  • Bill of Sale
  • Recall clearance letter (U.S. only)
  • NAFTA, if applicable (commercial U.S. imports only)
  • Copies of the Export Certificate and Invoices (in English or French), if export location is other than the U.S.
  • Manufacturer’s statement of compliance affixed to the vehicle
  • EPA label affixed to the vehicle


3. File AES before giving 72 hour export notice

Effective October 2, 2014, the US Census Bureau has added an export filing requirement on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Automated Export System (AES). The AES must be filed prior to the 72-hour notice. An EIN or IRS or Duns Number from the seller will be required along with the worksheet attached to file the AES.

AES filing for self-propelled ride on equipment is mandatory. AES filing must be handled by a resident U.S domiciled company. A customs broker, freight forwarder or United States Principal Party in Interest (USPPI) can file the AES declaration.

Once the AES is accepted, an Internal Transaction Number (ITN) number will be issued. The ITN number must accompany the request to start the 72-hour export notice with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

4. Submit required documents to CBP 72 hours prior to export

In order to complete the process of importing a vehicle to canada from the U.S., the required documentation must be submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  at least 72 hours prior to export.

Assuming your documentation above is accurate and complete, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official will begin the export checks which are completed within 72 hours of receipt (Exports are usually Monday to Friday, excluding holidays. However, please contact the customs office where you plan to cross, directly, to verify their hours of operation).

Note: At the time of exit from the U.S, the owner/agent of the vehicle must supply the vehicle and original documents to U.S. Customs at the port of export in person.

Tip: Confirm the U.S. port being used, and ensure that the desired port allows for vehicle export processing.

You will need to provide:

  • Individual Tax Number (ITN #)
  • U.S. Customs vehicle export worksheet
  • Copy of Bill of Sale
  • Copy of Vehicle Title (front and back), Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO) or certified copy of the same from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you are bringing in a salvage vehicle, you must supply a copy of the Salvage Title. If the Title is not in your name, then the seller must sign as the seller and the buyer must appear as the buyer on the Title. Partial submissions are not allowed.
  • Vehicles not requiring a Title – If you are exporting equipment that does not require a Title, you must complete the “No Title Required” Addendum.


5. Meet Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Requirements

The following are subject to import requirements, and inspection procedures and fees in order to prevent the entry and establishment of injurious plant pests in Canada:

  • used agricultural vehicles, equipment, implements, containers, and carriers;
  • used earth moving vehicles, equipment,implements, tools, carriers and containers;
  • used passenger and recreational vehicles; and
  • used military equipment.

Regardless of its origin, imported used vehicles, farm equipment and related earth moving vehicles and equipment must be free from soil, sand, earth, plant residue, manure and related debris. Many exotic plant pest organisms capable of causing economic loss to Canadian agricultural production can be transported in soil and related matter.


6. Submit required documents to Canada Border Services Agency at the first point of entry into Canada

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) office at the point of entry will process the import of your vehicle into Canada.

  • The Importer can declare the goods in person at the first point of entry upon arrival or;
  • The Importer can arrange for an agent to act on their behalf

The required documentation includes:

  • Bill of Sale
  • Title
  • Transport Canada Vehicle Import Form 1
  • Form B3 (for commercial) or Form B15 (for personal) – to account for any applicable duties or tax such as a possible 6.1% duty if the car is manufactured outside the USA, GST payable at the time of import. Excise Tax on air conditioning of $100.00 CAD, and the possible green levy anywhere between $1,000.00 to $4,000.00 CAD depending on the vehicle.
  • Please Note: HST or PST portions are payable at time of registration (step 8 in this guide)

7. Pay RIV registration fee

Once your vehicle has been imported into Canada, contact the RIV and pay the registration fee. You can pay the RIV fee by cheque, money order, credit or debit card:

In person:

Address: 405 The West Mall, Suite 500 Toronto, Ontario, Canada M9C 5K7  Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm EST

Or by Mail: Check or Money Order (Copy of the Form 1 or Case# must be included with payment)

The Registrar of Imported Vehicles
405 The West Mall, Suite 500
Toronto, On M9C 5K7

By Online Payment: www.riv.ca (Visa, MasterCard or American Express)

Instructions for Online Payments:

After you have finished importing a vehicle to canada and made your online payment, you must forward a Customs stamped copy of your form 1 to RIV. You can either fax: 1-888-346-8235 or email [email protected]

Register of Imported vehicles (RIV) also requires “NO Recall” information (not required for trailers) from the original vehicle manufacturer, or a computerized vehicle history report indicating no recall info.

RIV will not accept a letter on a dealership letterhead. Forward this information by faxing to 1-888-642-9899 or email to [email protected]

When forwarding your no recall information, you must quote your Form 1 number. It will take 72 hours to process your Form 2, for inquiries regarding your Form 2 or if you wish RIV to fax or email your Form 2 to you, please call 1-888-848-8240. Press 1, then press 2 and a RIV Representative will answer. Have your case number, which is the same as your Form 1 number. If further assistance is required, please contact Pacific Customs Brokers Ltd. Surrey, British Columbia.

Current fees for registering a U.S. imported vehicle in the RIV program

Vehicles entering the RIV program with a Vehicle Import Form – Form 1:

  • $295.00 + GST and QST for vehicles entering through a border crossing in Quebec
  • $295.00 + GST/HST for vehicles entering through a border crossing in any other province

Tip: Do not forget to include a copy of the recall letter if required

RIV exemptions:

Vehicles are exempt from the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) registration if they are imported under one of the following conditions:

  • Commercial Importation – Importer is listed on the list of recognized vehicle importers with Transport Canada
  • Non-Commercial Importation – New Canadian vehicle bearing a valid Canadian compliance label. The manufacturer of the vehicle must be listed with Transport Canada
  • Canadian certified vehicle being returned to Canada by original owner
  • Vehicles older than 15 years
  • Vehicle entered for exhibition, demonstration, testing, evaluation, or special purposes (Sch VII required)
  • Visitor, tourist, or a person holding a valid work permit or student visa
  • Work vehicle (A work vehicle is defined as one used primarily for civil engineering construction and maintenance, that is not built on a truck or truck-type chassis. This does not include a tractor or any vehicle designed to be drawn behind another vehicle).

Transport Canada will issue the Importer a Form 2 after all the fees have been paid to RIV and the No Recall information as well as Form 1 are received at RIV.


8. Pass Inspection and Registration

The original Form 1 and Form 2, along with the vehicle, must now be taken to an approved inspection facility within 45 days of import. Once inspected, your Form 2 will be stamped and the vehicle will be ready for registration.

Take your stamped Form 2, original Bills of Sale, original Title, and B3 or B15 from Canada Customs to your local licensing/registration office, pay your HST/PST, and drive away!


9. Keep Records on File

Last but not the least, when importing a vehicle to canada do not forget to keep a record on file. All records of importation must be kept on file with the importer for six years.

As you can see, importing a vehicle is a complex process. This article contains general guidelines and information pertaining to the CBSA administration of the Transport Canada import requirements. If you were ever to consider the services of a customs broker, we recommend doing so when importing a vehicle to Canada. A customs broker can help ensure that your vehicle meets the import requirements, avoid any costly delays and penalties at the border and assist with the transportation of your vehicle.

For more information or should you require assistance in importing a vehicle, contact Pacific Customs Brokers. Our import specialists can make this process simple and handle your next vehicle import for you. Use the form below to both enquire about the vehicle shipping services we offer or assistance with your import.

Do you have questions on importing a vehicle to Canada? Leave them for us in the comments section below.


77 Responses to “9 Steps to Importing a Vehicle into Canada from the U.S.”

  1. Eric Gretzinger says:

    Looking at importing a 2014 Jeep Summit Diesel into Canada and would be happy to have your help. Any issues with that and what is your cost for this?

    • Hello Eric! Thank you for reading and reaching out. We would love to help you with the import of your vehicle. A member of our Client Service team will be contacting you shortly.

  2. Mike says:

    Hey what if after paying all custom taxes the vehicle fails to pass the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) Canada inspection?

    • Thank you Mike for your question. We are happy to provide you with the following information. The first step would be to take the vehicle to an authorized facility to have the appropriate repairs or alterations made in order for the vehicle to meet the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) Canada inspection. Once approved, proceed with registration.
      If for any reason the vehicle can not be repaired or altered to comply with the regulations, we recommend having the vehicle exported from Canada. Once exported, any duties paid are recoverable, however, any taxes paid are not to be recovered.

  3. Chad says:

    My wife and I are moving to Canada (she is a citizen). We’d like to purchase an older pop up trailer and travel across the US, then take it into Canada. If it is older than 15 years old, what do we need? It looks like we won’t need to go through the RIV. Is that true?

  4. Hello Chad,

    Thank you for your question, we are happy to provide you with the following information. If you are moving to Canada, please be sure to check out any exemptions you may have when entering Canada with personal effects (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/fr-ar-eng.html).

    If Customs requires you to present a formal entry on the trailer, vehicles over 15 years from the date of manufacture are exempt from going through the RIV program. When completing the Transport Canada Form 1 at time of importation, there is a selection box to indicate the RIV exemption based on being more than 15 years old. The documentation requirements for Customs clearance are the same regardless of year, you will need to produce a bill of sale and a copy of the signed over title.

    If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank You.

  5. Eddie says:

    Trying to import a vehicle over 20 yrs old. Exempt from RIV. Problem I am having is securing temporary or binder insurance to transport the car over the border and home safely from Michigan. No insurance company I have called offers temporary insurance and in order to provide insurance, they require an appraisal be done in Canada.
    What are my options for securing insurance to drive it across the border?

  6. Greg says:

    Hi – I have a 98 mustang that I am wanting to move from USA to my residence in Canada. It will be licensed and stay in Canada. Do I have to pay GST/HST on a vehicle that I have owned since 2002?

  7. Hello Greg,

    Thank you for your question. We are happy to provide you with the following information.

    The Canada Border Services Agency collects duty and taxes on imported goods, on behalf of the Government of Canada.

    No duty is payable on goods imported for personal use, if it is marked as “made in Canada, the USA, or Mexico”, or if there is no marking or labelling indicating that it was made somewhere other than Canada, the USA, or Mexico.

    Most imported goods are however also subject to the Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Provincial Sales Tax (PST) or, in certain provinces and territories, the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).

    There are certain exemptions that apply when settling into Canada or returning back from extended stay outside the country. We would need answers to a few preliminary questions to understand his situation better (example: If you are a Canadian citizen, if you have been out of the country and for how long?) etc. in order to provide a clear answer.

    Below is some added information from the CBSA website that might help you, along with some contact information in the event you wish to speak with them directly.

    If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Best Regards,
    Cherie Storms, CCS, LCB, CTCS
    Assistant Operations Manager
    Pacific Customs Brokers, Ltd.

  8. Blaire says:

    I heard there were changes coming to vehicle importation coming up.

  9. Hello Blaire! We are expecting changes in the fall to the U.S. portion of the process. The original start date was April 2014, now pushed back to October 2014. There will be an added function required called AES filing. Pacific Customs Brokers is proud to offer support services to ensure AES is filed. Thank You.

  10. Bernd says:


    i’m new in the country and like to import an 25 Years old Honds Goldwing to Canada.

    Need your help, which paperwork need to be done.


  11. Rajivkumar Jethabhai Patel says:

    Hello Sir, I want to import salvage vehicle from USA to CANADA.
    Please tell me how can you help me.

    Rajivkumar Jethabhai Patel.

  12. Garry Meyer says:

    I am looking to import a 1991
    U.S. Military tow truck to Alberta.
    Is there any special information I need to be concerned about?

    Thank you
    Garry Meyer

  13. Jiwon Park says:

    I’m trying to import 2007 VW GTI from Seattle to Vancouver and That is my car in Seattle right now. Right now I’m living in Vancouver. What should I do first and I heard there are some changes in vehicle importation. Thank you.

  14. ian says:

    looking to import a car from canada to us how much does it cot the car is a ct200h lexus 2011 retail about 16500 cdn is it hard to do

  15. Dan says:

    Hi there I’m looking to export a 2013 gmc sierra from Canada for sale in the USA what is the process and fees that I’m responsible for .

  16. Shlomy says:

    Hey I wanted to know if I can get some information on a specific topic.

    I`m interested in importing a BMW from the New York to Quebec. How do we know how much taxes and other fees are applied on importing a car?

    Thank you,

  17. Barb kadarishko says:

    If I bought a car in Arizona and driving it across to Canada for personal use. Do I fill out shipper/exporter or ultimate consignee? Or do I just fill out transportation information? Thank you

  18. Roy Lesage says:

    I want to buy a 1999 used class B RV that someone had brought into Canada about 10 years ago. He bought the vehicle in the U.S. with a salvage title, entered into the R.I.V. and it repaired. He now would rather sell than complete the repairs. the unit is now more than 15 years old, how would I go about buying and registering this vehicle?

  19. Patrick says:

    Hello, are the any exemptions to all these steps from exporting & importing my car for only 12 months as part of my 12 month work permit visit from the US to Canada?

  20. rachel says:

    So the first real step seems to be filing an AES. Can U.S. citizens do this on their own or do you need to have a broker if you are importing a car for personal use? We have a 2010 car we’re bringinig from the U.S. to Canada… Help!

  21. Jules says:

    Hello, I’ve been reading many different websites and protocols regarding bring a vehicle into Canada from the US but they are all based on purchasing American vehicles. I’m receiving a car as a gift from my aunt in Illinois and I wanted to know if there’s a different procedure in regards to not having documents that show the sale of the car.

  22. Chris says:

    I am interested in purchasing a 1992 Geo Metro Convertible in MI, USA, and importing (driving) it into Canada via Sarnia. It was made in Japan. I have not done this before. I understand because the car is over 15 years old, I am exempt from RIV. Because this is my first time purchasing a vehicle in this manner, I want a as little involvement with the transition as possible, leaving it to a professional company that deals with these types of transactions. What advice and steps to follow can you provide? Thanks.

  23. If I bought the suv in the U.S because we live in the U.S. But am still paying on it ( U.S. Financed), do I need to pay it off first before moving to Canada?

  24. andre roelofs says:

    Hi, I’m looking in buying a 1940 Buick in Arizona. The car is a project so not a driver yet and comes with a load of parts that goes with it. the car got a clear title as far I know. My question is what do I need on papers and what to do for the US and Canadian customs to get this into Canada? the plan is to load everything up and drive it to the Alberta border. Thanks Andre.

  25. Les Barsony says:

    Hi Cherie

    I read some of the questions and answers and hope you might give me some advice.

    I live in Oakville, Ontario and bought a company in South Carolina last year – We manufacture boat trailers. I purchased a truck that is registered and licensed in SC – I use it there for business and drive back to Ontario every other week.

    About 5 months ago I was told I am not allowed to own and use the vehicle as I had been for the previous 7 months. After a lot of discussion I was released with a bond on the truck (for $0). My was good for 6 months and has to be renewed in a month.

    Is there a permit or something more permanent for my situation?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  26. Andrew Glynn says:

    I’m looking at importing a 23 year old car, titled in the US, manufactured in Germany. Do I need a manufacturer’s recall letter for such a vehicle?

  27. Katherine says:

    Dose a Comercial vehicle bought in usa need an annual sticker right away

  28. Marty says:

    I am looking at purchasing a 1973 ford Bronco from Michigan and bringing it back into Canada what paperwork would I need?

  29. Marty says:

    What paperwork would I need to import a 1973 Ford Bronco into Canada?

  30. Léa says:

    I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me? I am looking to transport my 1998 Mazda 626 to Quebec in January. I’m a U.S. Citizen with a Canadian student visa and the car is more than 15 years old; based on what I’ve found here and on other sites, these two facts would exempt me from the RIV fees. Is this still true, as I know rules can sometimes change even in a couple short years. I know Quebec often has extra taxes compared to other provinces, what other fees would I be looking at, or on which websites can I inquire? Thank you in advance, I really appreciate it! 🙂

  31. Rob says:

    Looking at importing a 1968 GMC suburban (restoration project not running), I have title in hand….what else does a person need to send to USA customs prior and have on hand at canadian customs when coming across?


  32. sue says:

    I have a recall for my toyota matrix,for the airbag module, but when I called the dealership they said it is not doing anything to the cars in the country, so can I still get my form 2

  33. Adelle says:

    I asked the Canadian border guard what I need to bring a tractor from us to Canada, and it didn’t sound like I needed paperwork, since it is used. When I cross over the line with my trailer to go look at the tractor, and then decide to buy it when looking at it, isn’t there no other paperwork for me to do? Thanks.

  34. GREG BRIND says:


  35. Claudia says:

    Hi….we imported our vehicle from Canada to the states. We are now moving back to Canada and want to bring our vehicle home with us. What do we need to do?

  36. Brandi Lane says:

    I want to bring my 2006 dodge stratus across the border

  37. jim says:

    hi looking for some shipping rates from fl. to kingston on. thanks.

  38. Amit says:

    I am moving to Canada and want to export BMW from US. Also, I have been residing in US on work visa from 8 years. Will I require AES (Custom worksheet filed or EIN) if I am driving my car across the border?

  39. Renato Perida says:

    We don’t have the copy of the B15 of the vehicle, and the Ministry are not registering the vehicle without it, Can you help us to solve this. Thanks

  40. Kyle says:

    Hey I want to bring a salvage title motorcycle frame into Ontario. Will I be able to get it road legal in Ontario ( assuming a mechanic deems it safe with proper documentation)?

  41. Steve says:

    My family and are Canadian citizens but have been living in the US for over 12 years. We have owned 2 cars in that time. Our current vehicle is a 2012 kia optima (made in america), purchased in July of 2015 (in great condition). We are now moving back to Canada and obviously want to take the care with us. I’m trying to understand what the costs would be and if there’s any special exemptions for citizens that have been living abroad as long as we have been. Thanks in advance!

  42. Manoj says:

    Hello, one of the steps required is the CBP clearance. What if it is not obtained prior to moving to Canada? Will it be a problem in registering the car in Canada?

  43. darby says:

    Hello! So we just bought a trailer from the states we paid the fee, and the taxes at the border , now do we have to pay an additional 13% tax at the service ontario/MTO even though we already paid tax at the border? that would total 17% tax + fees + the exchange?

  44. Brian says:

    I am wanting to bring a 15+ year old truck from the US to Canada. I have done this in the past by myself with no issues, but now see there are added steps…the AES system that will require the use of a broker. Also I see that there is now a time limit on repairs and inspection of 45 days? Does this only apply to vehicles in the RIV program, or all vehicles now brought into Canada? Thank you.

  45. BRIAN SWANSON says:

    I have paid import tax on 94 Dodge truck/Calif. Register. It was paid at Kelowna Airport. Will I have a problem filling out for 1?
    This was done in late 2012. Veh. Is in B.C.. (note use lower case b in email address.) Thanks for your response.

  46. June says:

    We spend 6 months each year in Florida and 6 in Canada. We plan to bring back a 2005 car (made in the US) which we bought in 2013. How will customs determine the value of the car? Will they use the price we paid in 2013 or will they consult a blue? book for current value? The car has obviously depreciated during the three years we owned it.

  47. John B says:

    When Importing a used vehicle such as a Nissan Quest from the US to CDA and the Vin Number Commences with JN is there additional tariffs imposed to the person bringing the Vehicle other than the PST and GST??


  48. jim Mahoney says:

    Hi We have a 2011kia Sorrento in Arizona and would like to bring it to Ontario.What exactly do we need to cross the border and be able to use the vehicle in Canada? Thank you

  49. Aulton Durham says:

    Hello! I am an American who became Canadian and am wanting to import my American-bought vehicle into Québec after having taught French in Texas. Your instructions are quite clear, but it appears that to have the ORIGINAL title one would have to have paid off the vehicle. Is it not possible to import a vehicle into Canada that has a car loan or lien on it? If so, would it be possible to use your services for the importation of the vehicle into Québec, and what are your broker fees associated with the importation? For the exportation I assume I might need a U.S. Customs broker? Thank you!

  50. Edwin says:


    I live in the US but my wife lives in Windsor Ontario, I have two cars and want to give her one. What does she have to do in order to get the car over the border and register in her name?

Leave a reply