For Canadians Buying an American Car
Exporting a vehicle from the US to Canada:
To export a vehicle you need to present the title 72 hours in advance to U.S. Customs. Call the port you are going to be going through for specifics (some won't accept faxes, some only do exports during certain hours, make sure to get officers names when you call, etc.) If you fax the title make sure that a cover sheet goes with it. On the cover sheet put the year, make, complete VIN#, contact name, and contact # in case we can't read the VIN. That way we have a way to verify the VIN. Any liens must be satisfied prior to export. Stop at Customs on the US side and present original documents (title) for export. Make sure the car is present at time of export for exam (if need be) and bring in the fax confirmation stating it was faxed. The fax confirmation should have the VIN or something on there showing it was faxed, not just the "OK message". There is no way to associate that with the actual fax and may not be accepted. US will stamp the title and you will be on your way to Canada. Remember to call what port you will be dealing with for specifics. Also more details can be found at http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/import/. As stupid as it sounds make sure the vehicle is present for inspection at time of import/export procedures. Failure to do so may result in penalties. If you are carrying over $10,000 cash you NEED to declare it prior to leaving and entering both countries. It's not illegal to do so, but it must be declared. There is no tax or duty on the money. If it's not declared and either country finds it, it WILL be seized. Other port phone numbers can be found at www.cbp.gov and just click on the port tab at the top of the page and go from there. It's pretty simple to find the phone number..
To summarize what you need for U.S. Customs:
*FAX title a minimum of 72 hours in advance of border crossing
*FAX MUST HAVE cover sheet with VIN, Year, Make, Model, Contact Name & Phone Number
*Ensure you receive a FAX Conformation Sheet with the VIN showed
*You MUST HAVE the conformation FAX along with the Original Title at time of crossing
*Have the Vehicle available for inspection
*Bill of Sale
*Declare cash you are carrying
*Phone ahead to Customs at the border crossing to see if they have any specific hours for exporting vehicles. For example Port Huron has the following Mon-Thurs 8am to 8pm, Fri 8am to noon, no exporting on weekends. That is a recent change.
*Inquire where the Exporting Office is, you must stop before leaving the USA. If they have an exporting inspection set up or you are randomly stopped, you are subject to a $10,000 fine and vehicle forfeit.
What you need for Canadian Customs:
*Stamped Title of Vehicle
*Bill of Sale (so they can charge you the GST)
*Date of Manufacture (Door Sticker)
*Air Conditioned Vehicles are subject to an additional $100 Tax
Things I Recommend for Canadian Customs:
*Copy of the Method of Payment (Cashier's Check, Money Order, Cash Exchange etc.)
*Printout of the Ad where you seen the car for sale.
*Printout of any email correspondence between yourself and the seller where the price of the vehicle was discussed.
Be aware honesty is always the best policy, especially when dealing with Customs. Be prepared for Customs to investigate the declared value (yes they have access to the internet for things like completed Ebay Auctions). The best place to save a few bucks is when you are negotiating price when buying the car, not at the border trying to avoid paying tax!!!
Ensure the vehicle is able to be imported into Canada by checking this list:
For Americans Buying a Canadian Car
Import a vehicle from Canada into the US:
Ok, here's what NEEDS to be done. If you pay someone to bring it across, it is commercial. That means he will need to see a US Customs Broker, which costs money. How much I am not sure. If you can, bring it across yourself. Personal importations are a heck of alot less paperwork and money to dish out. The vehicle needs to meet US EPA and US DOT requirements at time of import, you also need proof of ownership (bill of sale and Canadian title), fair market value (www.kbb.com). When re-entering the US, stop at the inspection booth and declare you need to import the car. They will send you into the office with your paperwork. Here's the tricky part. In order for the vehicle to meet US EPA and US DOT standards, it either needs to be labeled, or a letter of conformity from the manufacturer. EPA labeling is under the hood and must state meets US standards and DOT is in the driver side door jamb and CANNOT have the Canadian Maple Leaf. For instance, if you are bringing in a Chevy, you need a letter from GM on their letterhead stating if it meets the 2 above standards and the letter must include the VIN#. Dealer can help get the letter, but MUST be from the mfg. Or you can try contacting the mfg. directly through their addresses and phone numbers listed on www.nhtsa.gov at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/VIG_Canada07032.html .EPA is exempt if it's over 21yrs old and DOT exempt if over 25yrs old(or vice versa, don't have the forms in front of me). You can see that EPA and DOT are the tricky part. Once it is established that the EPA and DOT are met, we will fill out the rest of the paperwork for the import. You will need a CF7501, DOT form, EPA form, and duty MAY apply. The packet of papers you get from Customs needs to go to the DMV to get a title issued. Make sure there is a red stamp on the paperwork. Duty is 3% on the first $1000 and 2.5% on the balance if not made in the US, Canada, or Mexico. If the VIN starts with 1=US, 2=Canada, 3=Mexico, 4 & 5=US (free trade zones), anything other than the 1-5 will have duty to be paid at Customs. The fair market value is what you will be taxed on at the DMV. That's about it. It's always a good idea to call the Customs office you will be entering the US at to see if there are any small differences. The above is for Port Huron, MI. References include CFR 12.73 for EPA and CFR 12.80 for DOT on the cbp website. You may want to verify the VIN and in the driver side door jamb there should be a month and year of manufacture, jot down the MO and YR as that is the number one thing people get sent back outside to get. If exporting a car to Canada its CFR 192.2 As stupid as it sounds, make sure the vehicle is present for import / export procedures for inspection. Failure to do this may result in penalties. If you are carrying over $10,000 cash you NEED to declare it prior to leaving and entering both countries. It's not illegal to do so, but it must be declared. There is no tax or duty on the money. If it's not declared and either country finds it, it WILL be seized. Other port phone numbers can be found at www.cbp.gov and just click on the port tab at the top of the page and go from there. It's pretty simple to find the phone number.
Hopefully the above information can help act as a guide for anyone considering doing a cross border vehicle purchase. Procedures often change so please do your own research to make sure the information is current and relevant to your circumstances.
A good start would be to ensure the vehicle you wish to import is approved for inport to your country. You may be in for a rude surprise if you skip this step.
I would like the thank Adam (MI_Custumz) for his help in writing this Guide.