Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

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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.
Christina_ZhuNew Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:18 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:24 pm

Hello, I have a question... I drove my car over the border in June and went through the whole vehicle import process @ US customs. However, I just realised today that I did not get a copy of the EPA form... therefore it seems I won't be able to apply for a NJ license plate. Does anybody know what I should do at this point?

Thanks a lot in advance!!!
lawsSenior Member
Posts: 109
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:43 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:38 pm

We don't keep copies on file. The best thing to do is contact a local land, sea or airport and have them do the paperwork.
Gillis.sfNew Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:48 am

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Tue Nov 22, 2011 3:53 am

Hi there,
I will be bringing 2 cars to the US with me on my NATO Visa. One car will be shipped to Denver, and we will drive the other one.
One of the cars will have been purchased within 1 year, I am buying it just to drive down and tow a trailor and then hope to trade it in on a new car. So sell it within one year.
The second car was origionally a car from california (not currently running)
Will I have to pay duties on the first car twice?
How strict is Denver on registering vehicles.
Will the second car be easier to import because it is origionally Amercan...
Any help or insight into other issues will be greatly appreciated.
oh and are there any regulations or importing tent trailors?

Thanks
PGagueNew Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2011 6:24 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:05 pm

An update on my experiences:

I drove my car (1999 Hyundai Sonata) from Canada to North Carolina and kept it here for 2 months. N.C. state only allows you to keep your car for 2 months (if you come from Canada or another state), then you need to get N.C. plates and an N.C. driver's license. (btw, the N.C. state DMV only made me take the written test, I did not have to take the driving portion of the test to get a full lisence). In order to get N.C. plates, you need the vehicle importation papers which I did not have. So I had to drive my car back to Canada and leave it there. I flew back to N.C. Even if you could keep your car longer than 2 months, the problem is getting your car insured. You can't get insurance with an American company if you don't have an American license and American plates (and you can't get plates without the import paperwork). Most Canadian insurance companies will not insure you once you move here. I had to call my company and ask special permission to drive it around N.C. for 2 months. They weren't sure at first but eventually they said ok. So there is no one to get insurance from in the long term, if you don't import your car. I mention my experience with N.C. state as an example, every state is different.

Also, I contacted an importer. They said they could prepare the paperwork for about $500. All I would have to do is email them the info (VIN number, price of the car etc.), then they would prepare everything. Everything could be done over the phone or by email. The importer said all I would have to do is show up at the border and give them my name and I would just drive right through. They looked up my car and found that it didn't need any work done on it in order for it to be legal in the U.S. This is why it was only $500 and could be done by email. My car was not worth much more than $500 and so I declined. If you had to have modifications made (modifications to headlights etc.), to make the car legal, there would be a very high cost and a lot of hassle for you, as you would have to drop the car off at their shop and let them work on it. Here is the contact information for the importer I contacted:

Scott Boggs
Can Am Auto Importers, Inc
1304 Military Road - Kenmore, NY 14217
1-800-691-3810 ext 301 Fax 716-898-8886
Email: [email protected]

When I contacted the importer, all he had to do was input my car info into a computer and he knew immediately that my car did not need modifications to be legal in the U.S. Given that this importer probably needed to keep track of all makes and models of all cars and trucks, it is surprising to me that Hyundai can not even keep track of their own cars to determine if they meet US requirements or not. All I needed was a letter from Hyundai saying my car met the standards – they would not provide it and thus I would have had to pay $500 for someone else to do their job for them. From what I've read, all other car manufacturers (except maybe one other) will give you the letter for free. To be clear, I called Hyundai Canada 3 times on different days and spoke to someone different each time. They all said the same thing; they can not provide that letter for me. They would not say why (even though I grilled them), they just said that they do not do this. I also called Hyundai USA. The guy I talked to was really nice and tried to look up my VIN so he could send me a letter, but unfortunately, Hyundai USA didn't have my car info in their database and he couldn’t help me. He even put me on hold while he called Hyundai Canada for me as he could not believe that they would not give me the letter. He came back after 5 or 10 minutes and said wow, they won't do it, sorry man. So anyway, really bad customer service from Hyundai Canada, they have lost a customer for life!
rumbleNew Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:41 am

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:48 am

Hi,

I will be moving to Seattle from Vancouver on TN status. I’m trying to bring my car down with me. I’m wondering if I have the steps correct. From what I can determine, I need to do the following, in order:

1. Import car at the border (I have a compliance letter)
2. Get a Social Security Number (WA DMV site says I need one for license)
3. Trade in my BC driver’s license for a WA driver’s license
3.5 Weigh my car?
4. Title and register my vehicle at vehicle licensing office
5. Insure my car

All within 30 days. What happens if I encounter a problem at step 4? If I’ve traded my BC driver’s license for a WA one, but then don’t manage to get WA plates and insurance, will I now be unable to drive my car (e.g., to return it to Canada)?

It seems like the timing of all this would be tricky, since (from what I’ve read), getting a SSN takes weeks, the licensing offices aren’t open on weekends, and I have to get it all done within 30 days...
SilopolisNew Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:08 am

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:10 am

My wife and I are looking into moving to Austin, TX from Montreal, and we'd like to drive our car over. A friend told me that we'll need the bill of sale, which he said is something you don't get until the car is paid off, since the financiers (Ford Credit Canada, in this case) own the car until it's paid off.

Is this crazy talk? Do I need to pay off my car in full before I can import it? I understand that I might have to get it refinanced with a US lender or something like that, but when it comes to importing the car, would the Quebec registration be enough to prove ownership?
dracoreNew Member
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:27 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:15 pm

Hello,

I'm going to be going down to NJ on a TN Visa. I intend to bring my vehicle with me. It is a 2008 Acura which I originally purchased in the US 2 years ago, which I then imported to Canada. So the vehicle itself I'm sure is compliant -- the VIN # is US region... do I still need to get in touch with Honda to get a manufacturer compliancy letter? Do I then go to get a title and have my vehicle registered? I can drive around with my Canadian DL with a registered+plated vehicle? Hmm.. I can see some issues with my car insurance as I am only covered for Personal Use while driving in US. Technically I'm working. How long can I drive with my DL this before I need to get a US one (which I guess will let me sign up for US car insurance)?

Thanks. Sorry my understanding with the re-import back to US process is a little scattered but I hope you guys can clear it up for me.
inanimateNew Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:46 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:48 pm

I've read this whole thread, but could still use a bit of clarity on some points.

- I'm moving to Washington on an H-1B
- I'd like to temporarily import my Japanese made, Canadian owned Mazda 3
- if I do the 1 year temporary import, will this allow me to register and insure/plate the car in WA state?
inanimateNew Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:46 pm

Re: Bringing a Canadian Car over to the USA

Post Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:56 am

Thanks. If I do import it, is there anything that prevents me from driving it back up to Canada and selling it?

As in, does importing it to the states change its status in Canada?

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