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View topic - Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Canadian Expats and travelers in the USA can communicate with each other here!
MurlocNew Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:20 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:04 pm

moving2theUSNew Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:15 am

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:54 am

Hello all,

I have been reading all the posts here, and want to confirm if my understanding is true, based on what I have read and our situation.

I have my Canadian car here with me in the US - it has Canadian plates on it and Canadian insurance. We drove through the border without importing it at the time. I am on an H4 here in the US, and am still financing my car in Canada (need about a year and a half to pay it off in full still). I got all the required forms from the car manufacturer, and have my registration forms from Canada, so i am thinking of going to try to "import" my car so that I can register it here. Is there any point in even trying to do this if I have not paid it off in full? I know that you are allowed to drive your car legally in the US for 1 year before changing plates, however not allowed by the state for longer than a set time (usually 2-3 months). What happens if I continue to drive my car under Canadian plates for up to one year?

Any help is greatly appreciated!
Thanks in advance!
lsblakkNew Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:13 am

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:20 am

I brought a Canadian 2001 Toyota Echo over from B.C. just over a year ago when I came over on a 3 year H1B visa. We drove through at Port Angeles' border, coming off a ferry. What the border officials didn't tell me at the time was that there are two kinds of importing. So they demanded a letter from Toyota saying my car complied with US safety regs and I didn't have that. Then they told me I had 30 days to show up with the letter at the SF customs & border control office and that I might not be allowed to import the car (it was made in Japan). So they basically got me all scared. I called a 1-800 number for Toyota and arranged to get a letter sent, all they needed was the VIN. Once it arrived I went to the customs office in Oakland and they had me fill out a form. That's when I learned that there are two ways - one way is permanent and the other is just to import the car for the duration of your visa. The second way did not need a letter from Toyota, also it meant they stamped "Not for resale" on my papers. I can have my car here with me but I can't sell it.

That being said, when I did all my vehicle registration stuff with the California DMV I'm not sure if that "not for resale" was noticed or carried forward because I got provided with a pink slip for the car in case I ever sell it.

My current plan is to just drive it until it dies anyway, so it doesn't matter much to me but I thought people might want to know about this "temporary" importing because it's actually straight forward and they told me in Oakland that the guys at the Port Angeles border could have done it when I drove over.
cjryanNew Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:42 am

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:49 am

int19hNew Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:11 am

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:18 am

Is there an actual requirement to import the car prior to registering it in a state (specifically, Washington, though it seems to be a valid question for others as well)? Looking at the list of documents required for registration, there doesn't seem to be anything regarding importation there; or would they refuse to accept Canadian documents (APV9T & APV250) as proof of vehicle ownership?

I've crossed the border into US recently (without importing the car, HS-7 etc), and wondering if I can get state registration for that year without having to jump through all the importation hoops.
heemuNew Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:20 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:28 pm

I read through the entire posts, but couln't find answer to my situation. Maybe, I missed something, but here is what I'm thinking.

I'm flying to the US under TN visa and my transit time is in toronto is only about an hour and 15 minutes. I'm afraid the time is not sufficient to process my TN visa. I, therefore, decided to drive to Osdensburg to get my visa stapmed. But, at this point I'm little confused with my car.

If I import my car at Osdensburg and then drive back to Canada, and give my car and all other furnitures to the moving company, will they face problem at the border, because the car has already been imported?

Is it a requirement to import the car by myself, or I can just give the car to the shipping company and then import the car on paper then fax the papers back to the shipper. Or, I just go, get the visa, and come back without importing the car. And then fly into the US, leaving the car with the shipping company to take care of the whole import process.

Thanks in advance for your suggestion.
lawsSenior Member
Posts: 109
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:43 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Fri Jun 24, 2011 5:34 pm

You need to import the car yourself. No one else can do it for you, exept a spouse. It will not matter if the car is already imported when the movers bring it down. All a vehicle import is, is a few papers that you bring to the DMV to show CBP let it in and it conforms to US standards.
lawsSenior Member
Posts: 109
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:43 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:06 pm

I answered this three times, but the new site keeps deleting my answer.

You need to import your car, no one can do it for you. When you import it, the moving company, with proof of your TN, will be able to bring it to the USA for you. The import process is super easy and requires very little. As far as the US government is concerned, we only do the paperwork for you that states we allowed it in the country and that it conformas to US standards. The state you move to will do the rest.
baqtrvlNew Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:18 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:29 pm

I have stumbled onto this site and I am thrilled. I am trying to find out info for my son who purchased a car from a lady who had purchased it from a Canadian who came to Oklahoma for school. We have the bill of sales for the vehicle but when the student brought the car into the states, he did not get paperwork for future sale of the car here. I don't know the exact name of the paper. He sold this car after he graduated and his family purchased him a BMW. The lady that bought it drove it and never changed the plates and then sold it very cheaply to my son because it was to much trouble to do what ever it took to be able to put Oklahoma plates on it. We are trying to figure where to start or even if it is worth it to do this. THe car is a older Taurus but in really good shape and would make a great work car. Can someone please start us in the right direction, since we are not Canadian the words and terms I have seen mean nothing to me. I would appreciate any help we can get. Thanks
chicago_boundNew Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:41 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:48 pm

I am a Canadian and will be attending a 2 year MBA program in Chicago, IL, starting this August. I currently have a VW on lease until November 2012. I have checked with the Illinois Secretary of State regarding driving with Canadian plates and a Canadian DL, and they said that I can do that for the duration of my stay as a student. My insurance will also extend coverage for the entire time, providing I return at lease once every ten months, which should be no problem.

I understand that I am not supposed to bring the leased vehicle into the US, and that it says on my Lease Agreement that I'm not allowed to use the vehicle outside of Canada. However, I also know that it's common for people who are leasing vehicles to travel to the US. Will I run into any issues at the border crossing with a student visa and a Canadian leased vehicle? Is there any chance they will not let me enter the country with this car? Considering that I will continue to make regular payments and maintain a Canadian address, is it really a big deal to take the car with my to Chicago until the lease is up?

Really need some good practical advice here, and not just a DON'T DO IT answer. Thanks in advance.

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