Saturday, April 30, 2011

Importing the car to Canada. FINALLY, it's done.

Last month, I presented to you a post about importing my car into Canada.  At that point, I had not obtained vehicle form 1 (the import form) because I was told I did not need it at the border.  In actuality, I DID need it, and so I had to take a trip all the way out to Pearson airport (on the other side of Toronto) to get it.  But now, the whole process is done, and my car is (almost) plated.

So, let's sum up, shall we?  For an American temporary resident in Canada, I needed the following things to import my little Toyota to Canada.  Things are listed in the order I got them.

-An Ontario driver's license.  This is pretty simple to get, and you only have to bring proof of residence.  I got it back in March, and I now have my real license instead of the paper one.  They confiscated my Pennsylvania license and gave me a copy in case I should ever need it.

-Vehicle form 1.  Very important and absolutely essential.  I went to the back entrance of Pearson and got it.  Because I am a temporary resident, all fees were waived, and I got a beautifully signed and stamped receipt and Vehicle Form 1 for a grand total of..... $0.  There were no RIV fees, no air cond fees, no gas mileage fees.

-Safety and emissions inspection.  To get the car plated in Ontario, it needs to pass the Drive Clean program.  Additionally, it needs to pass the safety requirements to get a Safety Standard Certificate.  Total cost should be around $100 for both of these.  Princess was a little lacking, so I needed some work done to pass safety (see below).

-Daytime running lights.  Ugh.  HUGE ripoff.  I have the option of turning Princess' lights off; hence, they needed to render that impossible, to the tune of over $200.  I asked them if I could just turn the knob to keep the lights on all the time, and they said no.  So now the lights are constantly running (except when the car is off, of course).  I don't like it, but it's essential for Canada.

-New brakes.  This was 100% my fault.  They told me in Pennsylvania last October that the brakes were rusting, but by the time I took Princess to get inspected, the brakes were totally rusted through.  New rotors and everything needed.  My total bill with the lights, safety, emissions, and brakes came up to about $700.  But now my little trooper is all fixed up and roadworthy.

-Title and registration.  I already had these.  I'd say they're essential to the process, but I think only the title is. Because I had my registration, they just took that.  I made copies of them beforehand because I didn't know what they would take and keep.  See below for what they did with them.

-Insurance.  Oh boy.  My insurance in Ontario is over 100% higher than it was in the U.S.  I got it through CAA, and I was walked through the process very professionally.  I also purchased roadside assistance.  My temporary insurance cards were emailed to me, so I could present proof of insurance.

I gathered allllllll these essential things up, trooped over to my local Service Ontario kiosk which is also a branch of the Ministry of Transportation, and obtained....

-My license plates!  Imagine me holding up my plates like Link holds up the Triforce.  That's how momentous this was.  The plates + registration for 1 year came out to about $90.  The Pennsylvania title was stamped "registered in Ontario" and given back to me.  The Service Ontario staff member helping out the guy who did all this for me said it was because "these things cost like $150 in the States, and we don't want them to have to get a new one."  This is the first time Ontario has expressed interest in saving me money.  However, my PA registration was confiscated, and I didn't get it back.  Instead, it was replaced with an Ontario registration, which doubles as a title essentially.  So I went in with all the stuff above, and I left minus my PA registration, but with an Ontario registration and front/back plates.

-Holes drilled in the front of Princess.  Poor Princess doesn't have a place for a front plate, only having been plated in Georgia and Pennsylvania, which do not require front plates.  I have to get holes drilled and bolts put in, but this should only be about $20.  This is the last thing I need to do before she becomes truly Canadian!

So yeah, the process is long and costly, and I'm so, so glad it's over.

40 comments:

  1. So understand what you mean regarding car insurance. I'm with Allstate and I hate, hate, hate them. I'm paying exactly twice as much as I used to pay with Geico when I was in grad school city. Here they "confiscated" the title of my car. They claim I could get it re-issued at the border, but as you know grad-school city and border-city are not the same. And I'm glad you didn't need to pay the import fees (see, I was right on this, hehe .... just kidding, I'm getting off my soap box now). This reminds me that I need to check my papers and if I get to keep my current position or switch to a different one within the school I need to do the emissions and all those tests again, since it's been 2 years since I moved here and had that done. Great to hear Princess is all legal now. And yes, I had to drill 2 holes for the ON plates too, as grad-school city only had the back tag.

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  2. I know, I had Geico too! I really appreciated them; they were so helpful when I hit a deer. I'm surprised they confiscated your title, but I have a feeling they might have taken mine too had I not had my registration with me.

    You were so right about the fees! I was so worried, but it ended up being ok. Perhaps this Saturday, I will take Princess in for her minor surgery, and then we'll go back to the U.S. for graduation. I am way more excited than I expected to be.

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  3. I am starting a 2 yr postdoc at U of T this summer, and the car import situation is still confusing even after reading your very detailed and helpful posts.

    I read somewhere else that a 2 yr postdoc does not need to import, register, and license a car in Canada. Is your postdoc longer than 36 months?

    Also, my sponsoring institution told me that I can apply for a work permit at the border. We'll see how it goes!

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  4. I suppose you don't have to do all those things, but the truth is, my car was licensed in Pennsylvania, and I no longer live in Pennsylvania. I live in Ontario. So when they sent me the registration renewal form, I couldn't truthfully say I had any residence in Pennsylvania. With respect to the work permit, you can indeed do that, but I thought that since I had time, I'd get done with the paperwork beforehand.

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  5. Where did you go at the Pearson airport to get form 1.

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    1. YOu do not need to visit Pearson aiport. There is a Canada Customs office at 5425 Dixie Road, Mississauga (free parking), and at 1 Front Street West, Toronto where you can get a Form 1.

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  6. Hi I am moving to Ottawa this saturday with my Toyota camry (2004) and will be staying there temporarily in work visa for 12 months (at the most 15 months).
    Could you please let me know if you had to pay the sales tax in Ontario (I saw it is around 13% of market price).No one really mention about that. Is it coz its not needed? I owned this car for almost 3 years, so when I move there will the tax be estimated based on the original price for which I bought it, or based on the current market price.
    Finally which is wise, to take the car over there or buy a new one?
    Thanks

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  7. There are a couple of places you can go to get Form 1. Don't go to the actual Terminals (1 or 3), because it's not there. It's around the back end of the airport, accessible by Dixie Road. It looks like there are a bunch of service entrances, but you can go that way. It's a long road that keeps taking you around the back of Pearson, and the import place is right after employee parking.

    As for the other person, no, you don't have to pay that 13% tax on your car if you're just going to be coming in, working temporarily, and then going back to the U.S. Definitely take it with you. It's way cheaper to do that than buy a new car here, because then you would have to import that car back to the U.S.

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  8. Actually, you do not require daytime running lights. Under Ontario regulation 611 - aka the safety standard certification - daytime running lights are not required. There is some confusion here, and the government officials and automotive service centers tend to get this confused.

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    1. Well that's good to know now.... I was wondering how ALL of these Ontario cars were cruising around without their lights on, and now I know. I just wish my safety inspection place had known!

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  9. Did you ever have to formally "export" your car from the US? Or did you just cross the border into Canada, and then do all of this once you were in Canada?

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    1. Never had to formally export it. Did all of this once I was in Canada. You can get Form 1 at the border, but I was mistakenly told I didn't need to.

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  10. So what happens if you decide you like Canada and want to stay? Will you have to pay some extra customs duties on Princess since she wouldn't be destined to go back to the U.S. any more?

    I've in that situation - I've been living in Canada two years and am on the verge of getting my permanent residency. I'm torn on whether I should get a (cheaper) car in the U.S. and take it here, or just buy one here, and face the possibility that I may eventually have to import it to the U.S. if I go back...

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    1. I'm back in the U.S. now, but had I applied for PR and stayed in Canada, then yes, they would have made me formally import the car. Princess would have been 13 years old by then, which meant she could have been exempt by a good amount of the import taxes, though. If you get a car in the U.S., it's got to be pretty old. Otherwise, you'll get hit with import taxes, AC tax, and if you're not fuel efficient enough, you've got to pay that tax, too.

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    2. And what did you have to do to get your car back into the US and registered in MI?

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  11. anders (US citizen, now residing in BC on temporary work permit)December 11, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    I would just like to say that the information you've shared here is EXTREMELY helpful! Although I am still nearly as confused about the entire temporary importation process as before, I take comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one who has had difficulty navigating this overwhelmingly complicated process. I am currently mired in virtually the exact situation that you found yourself in a few years ago. I crossed from Washington into BC five days ago, and to my surprise, the Canadian border patrol agent told me that I did not need to complete a Form 1 and that it would be in my best interest to keep my car registered and insured in the USA due to the extremely high cost of doing so in BC. As nice as that sounds, it turns out that all motor vehicle laws in BC dictate that I do indeed need to register, license, and insure the car during my time here (work permit granted for 2 years). I wish I would have been more assertive at the border, but when a border patrol agent gives you information, it's hard not to take her word!

    I am hoping to get my current situation sorted out in the next couple of days, and look forward to sharing my experience with anyone who has questions or anxieties regarding this ridiculously complex matter!

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    1. Hi Anders

      I am wondering if you could update on your situation. I'm a US citizen here on a work permit and temporarily imported my car. So, ICBC took my title and destroyed it. Luckily I have a copy but that totally caught me by surprise because I planned on selling the car in the States. However, I've decided to apply for PR and now will permanently import the car so that I can trade it in for a new one. The confusing part is the Export on the US side. I've gotten 2 or 3 different stories and all they do is serve to confuse the matter. Before I drone on, can you tell me if you ended up permanently importing your car to Canada and if you did, did you end up going to the Vehicle Export office at the Pacific Crossing?

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    3. Hi Anonymous,

      My husband and I just moved to BC, as my husband is studying here, and I was wondering if you could give me some information on the temporary vehicle import process. I'm finding plenty of information on the import process, but not what's different if you're only importing the car temporarily. For instance, do you need recall clearance documentation for a temporary import? Do we need to undergo an RIV inspection, or are we exempted from that if we're only importing the car temporarily? Any other info you could provide on the difference between the temporary process and the permanent process would be much appreciated!

      A question on importation in general--did you get the Form 1 at the border, or were you able to get it elsewhere after you arrived? We're on Vancouver Island so I'm really hoping we won't have to take a ferry back to Washington just to pick up that form! Although here--http://www.riv.ca/CBSAEntryRequirements.aspx--it sounds like CBSA plays a role in the import process beyond providing the Form 1, so maybe we do need to go to the border? What was your experience?

      And about exporting your car from the US, did not having done that when you temporarily imported it (at least I'm assuming you didn't do it then) turn out to be an issue for you at all? I'm assuming that we shouldn't do it now since we don't intend to keep the car here permanently, but it seems like others have run into trouble for not having done it.

      Thanks so much!

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  12. Is vehicle registration in Canada similar to registering your car in America? My sister and her husband are moving up to Canada to be closer to his family. They will need to register both of their cars when they get there and she's not sure what to do. Do they just go to the DMV like in the states or is there a different process?
    Claudia Rosenburg | http://registrationsareus.com/motor-vehicle/

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  13. Hi LoonieChemist,

    I posted this question as part of a reply to another comment above, but wanted to ask here as well. At http://www.riv.ca/CBSAEntryRequirements.aspx it sounds like CBSA plays a role in the import process beyond providing the Form 1. Did you have to deal with them as part of the process at all, or not? Thanks for any help you can provide! Importing a vehicle really does seem like a nightmare so far, but your blog posts are definitely helpful and, as an American who's just moved to Canada, I've enjoyed looking around the blog in general. :)

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    1. Hi Tabitha! Sorry I haven't replied. For some reason, I didn't get an email about your post! I didn't have to deal with CBSA at all, but I was only in Canada for 16 months, and they knew that, so I didn't have to technically import it. Interesting thing of note, though: a friend of mine in my situation got in a wreck in Ontario, and he had to actually fully import his vehicle in order to get his insurance to pay for the damage. So, he had to pay to get money! So be careful driving!

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    2. Thanks for the response! Yikes, that's good to know about the insurance. We were also told that the cost goes up if you get into an accident, so we will definitely be super careful!

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  14. I just wanted to say thank you so much for posting this. My husband is a postdoc in Toronto so we are in a very similar situation. Your posting was extremely helpful and really clarifies what to do in my mind. Thank you very much for taking the time to post such a good entry. I hope you are enjoying your position in Michigan.

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  15. What is the process to bring back the vehicle in US ? Can you drive it back to US ?

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  16. Did Service Ontario ask for your existing U.S. license plate numbers? Do you need to provide your existing U.S. license plate numbers?

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    1. You don't need your US license plate numbers when you go to Service Ontario, just your US title to prove you own the car.

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  17. PhD student in CanadaMay 26, 2015 at 8:41 PM

    I just wanted to chime in with my own anecdotes about doing this, since I've now temporarily imported two cars from the US into Ontario. The key is knowing to get a Form 1 when you first cross and knowing to politely insist that as a temporary resident you are exempt from fees and asking people to check with their supervisors if they're not sure about the correct protocol.

    The first was previously registered and had license plates in the US and I brought it over when I first moved. I had to stop at the border to get my study permit anyway, so they also gave me a Form 1 and a "Casual Goods Accounting Document" on which they put the value of my car and that I didn't owe tax because it was being temporarily imported. Once in Ontario I switched my license, got ON insurance, did the emissions and safety inspection, and took all those forms plus the ones from the border to a Service Ontario office. They took away my title, gave me an ON license plate and registration, and that was that. I didn't have to make any modifications or pay any fees, other than the usual car registration fees.

    The second time, I went to NY, bought a brand-new car, and again brought it back into Canada completely free of any import taxes because it's only here temporarily. This time I had to ask for the Form 1 at the border, since I was first told I didn't need it, but once I showed them the box to check if the car is being imported by a temporary resident, they filled out the Form 1 and gave me the accounting document. I also still had to do the safety inspection in Ontario, because that's required for all out-of-province cars, but again wasn't required to do daytime running lights or any other modifications. Registering it was again fairly straight-forward, I just had to ask them to call the Ministry of Finance to verify that my car is exempt from taxes even though that was stated on my Casual Goods Accounting Document.

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    1. PhD student in CanadaMay 26, 2015 at 8:46 PM

      I also forgot to add that if you're only bringing in a car temporarily you don't need to formally export it from the US. You can literally just drive up to the border, tell the Canadian officer you're a temporary resident with a study permit, and when you go inside ask for a Form 1. The US officials don't need to be involved at all.

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  18. PhD student in Canada,
    I am in the same situation as your second temporary import. We will be buying a new vehicle in the US and temporarily importing it into Ontario well on my work permit. Did you encounter any difficulties with service Ontario in relation to sales tax? Because we are buying the car in New York and not registering it there We won't pay state sales tax. We will only have a temporary registration to drive the car off the lot and back to Ontario. I believe service Ontario wants to see your title and current registration. I imagine you did the same with yours? Appreciate any help you can provide.

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  20. I am an Indian national residing in Canada on a Work visa. Recently, I have been granted L1B visa to work in USA and I will be moving to USA in next 30 days.

    I want to make 2 trips to USA.

    In first trip , I will be visiting CT to look for an apartment. I will be traveling in my own car.

    In second trip , I will be importing my car as well as submitting form 3299 for unaccompanied good.

    Is it OK to submit form 3299 in second trip OR do I have to import car and submit form 3299 in first trip itself?

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    1. Unfortunately, I took my American car to Canada, not my Canadian car to the United States, so I really can't help you here....

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  21. Great info! I relocated to Ontario within the past week from Florida on a student permit for valid for 7 months. My wife and I drove two vehicles in (both titled/registered in my name) without any hassles at the border (no request to see proof of insurance, registration, title etc, however the officer did ask me several times for my plate number-possibly to verify the car was indeed mine and that I knew the plate number 'by heart'). To my point: since I will be residing here for seven months (possibly longer as I may have to extend my student visa to complete my program due to conversion delays with my credentials), and after reading this thread, I understand that Canadian insurance, plates, driver license and registration are inevitable. I have a Canadian non-resident insurance card that expires in 2 weeks so I need to 'temporarily import' the car according to what I've read here. Does anyone know whether I can obtain the Canadian CBP Form 1 at a location other than the border/point of entry? I'm currently in the Toronto area.

    Al

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    1. 5425 Dixie Rd Missisauga
      or behind Pearson Airport [its a long road behind airport, I forgot the exact address, will check and post again]

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  22. Hello LoonieChemist,
    I came across this post today and I must say this is fantastic!

    Last year, I also imported my American Car in Ontario and will be going back to the USA next month. In Ontario, they took my original Georgia title, Georgia Driver's License and returned me Ontario title & Ontario License. When I asked about the title, the service Ontario officer mentioned that they've some kind of link to the USA and they send back license & title to original USA state, so when I would go back, I need to surrender my Ontario license & title back in Georgia, where they'll issue me Georgia license & title again.
    However now I'm wondering how do I prove that this car was purchased in the USA, originally registered in the USA and was here only temporarily?
    What did you do? Please advise.

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    1. Hi there! Glad you like it. I imagine they'll be able to look up your Vehicle ID Number (VIN) on the windshield and see that it's an American vehicle.

      For me, my Pennsylvania title was never taken, so I could prove I had it in America. However, I think the two countries have become even more connected in terms of cross-border workers, so it's possible that my blog is, or soon will be, obsolete!

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    2. I just called USCanadaAutoTransport company for the quote and also inquired about title issue, he mentioned that if I've a copy of my US title that should work.

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