Author Topic: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US  (Read 5942 times)

cheddarpie

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 244
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« on: January 27, 2016, 04:24:28 PM »
Hiya mustachian hive. I am looking at a used car (2013 model Subaru) that is across the border in Canada ... Does anyone have any experience with this?

What's involved in getting it back to the U.S.? Are there customs fees/duties/tariffs, or special registration requirements?

I've done a little research and it looks like you need a certification from U.S. Subaru that the car meets EPA emissions requirements, and maybe there's a 2.5% duty? Is this accurate? Any other certifications needed?

Has anyone successfully done this before? How much of a hassle was it? I would love to hear about your experience if so ...

Thanks!


cheddarpie

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 244
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2016, 05:32:55 PM »
Thanks! I've found the online resources, looking more for experience of how it really works in practice ...

Tabitha

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 101
Re: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2016, 06:46:26 AM »
Hiya mustachian hive. I am looking at a used car (2013 model Subaru) that is across the border in Canada ... Does anyone have any experience with this?

Has anyone successfully done this before? How much of a hassle was it? I would love to hear about your experience if so ...
Yes, twice.
You will need a statement from the manufacturer that the vehicle meets CA emissions standards and is "substantially the same except for minor labelling" as the same car sold in the US. (The KM on speedometer and Kgs for GVW). The manufacturer will need the VIN before they can/will give you the declaration. You need this paper first before you approach the border. It can take 2-14 days to obtain.

You then need to stop at Customs, with the car and manufacturer's statement and declare the car. Whether or not you pay duty depends on where the car was manufactured. Look on the door frame or ask the manufacturer; many "imports" are now made in NA. Should be <2% of car purchase price even if you have to pay it. Take the time to have pre-read the sections on their website on how it works to import a car, and leave yourself plenty of time.(1x 1hr, 1x 3hrs) It's not something they frequently see a citizen doing and they'll scratch around before finding their own requirements.

For one of our experience it was an in-group sale, and the vehicle travelled on its original plates across the border. The 2nd was bought at auction and we trailered it - you can't get temp plates for a vehicle never before registered in your state and we weren't going to pay the sales tax to register it in the province just to move it immediately. The car has to be there for customs inspection.

Now, get the sales receipt, manufacturer's statement and customs form to the DMV and register the car in the same way they register any out of state vehicle. Note that if you don't provide an official bank exchange rate statement as to the currency exchange rate in effect THEDAY of THe SALE, the dmv may treat the price as At Par for sales tax purposes. (That memory is still sour)

Our next steps were inspection and insurance and there was no difference.


GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13746
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2016, 07:03:05 AM »
We tend to salt roads more heavily than is done in the US . . . be very careful about checking the undercarriage of the vehicle you're looking at.

JLee

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5557
Re: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2016, 07:36:27 AM »
We tend to salt roads more heavily than is done in the US . . . be very careful about checking the undercarriage of the vehicle you're looking at.

Calgary primarily uses sand, so that may vary depending on area.

Meanwhile, the parking lot at work here in NJ is blanketed in salt. :(

cheddarpie

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 244
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2016, 01:43:23 PM »

Thank you!! This is really helpful.

For one of our experience it was an in-group sale, and the vehicle travelled on its original plates across the border. The 2nd was bought at auction and we trailered it - you can't get temp plates for a vehicle never before registered in your state and we weren't going to pay the sales tax to register it in the province just to move it immediately. The car has to be there for customs inspection.

Thanks! Maybe dumb questions, but what is an "in-group sale" and how did you "trailer" the car -- did you tow it yourself, or hire a transport service?

I would most likely take the train to Vancouver and then drive it back myself, so I'm not sure what do to about the registration/plate issue.

Now, get the sales receipt, manufacturer's statement and customs form to the DMV and register the car in the same way they register any out of state vehicle. Note that if you don't provide an official bank exchange rate statement as to the currency exchange rate in effect THEDAY of THe SALE, the dmv may treat the price as At Par for sales tax purposes. (That memory is still sour)

Yikes! Good to know about the exchange rate statement ... I would not have thought of this. Thank you!

We tend to salt roads more heavily than is done in the US . . . be very careful about checking the undercarriage of the vehicle you're looking at.

Thanks! The car is on Vancouver Island so hopefully not a lot of salt there, but I'll be sure to check. I'm in the market for a new car primarily because my current one lived in the Northeast US for 7 years, so I know the problems of salt well. :)

Tabitha

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 101
Re: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2016, 06:12:22 PM »
, but what is an "in-group sale" and how did you "trailer" the car -- did you tow it yourself, or hire a transport service?.

I would most likely take the train to Vancouver and then drive it back myself, so I'm not sure what do to about the registration/plate issue.

"In-group" bought it from a friend willing to drive it over.
"Trailer" borrowed a car trailer from a friend's father who uses it to tow a car behind his RV. We borrowed, but you can rent them.

The manufacturers paperwork waits on the VIN and you wait on the manufacturer. Not picking up the car until you get the paperwork together is key. The day we brought the first one over, someone ahead of us in line was being turned back from importing the one he'd just bought from the classifieds.
[/quote]

cheddarpie

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 244
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2016, 07:29:57 PM »
Thanks everyone! Very helpful.

The car is on Vancouver Island so hopefully not too much salt.

brandonbrews

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2016, 09:16:13 AM »
Hey, I'm currently looking at doing the same thing.  There is a dearth of good manual transmission vehicles here in Seattle, and with the exchange rate and seemingly lower cost in general, Canadian options are very appealing. 

Cheddarpie, how did it go, or has it happened yet?  I just sent of for the manufacturer's statement on the car I'm looking at but I think everything else is in place for the transaction. 

cheddarpie

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 244
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2016, 11:53:47 AM »
Hasn't happened yet, and it's looking like it isn't going to -- she has another buyer locally, so I have a feeling it won't work for me. I'm going to keep looking. Let me know how it goes for you!

Thanks!

brandonbrews

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2016, 09:43:34 AM »
So here's the way-too-long story of my Canadian car-buying search and purchase:

- I live in Seattle and was looking at manual hatchbacks, specifically the upper-end trims of the Toyota Matrix / Vibe, Scion xB, and Mazda3 Hatchback. 
- The Canadian market has several advantages (exchange rate, lower miles/kms on most cars, more manual transmission cars in general, seemingly cheaper used car market) so I decided to look up there as well as locally.
- There was a beautiful 2010 Mazda3 6-speed in Vancouver, but after going down the path of getting a letter from Mazda to confirm the safety and emissions conformed to US standards, we discovered that while identical in nearly every aspect, the Canadian models in that year (and possibly through the 2012 model) don't have tire pressure monitoring systems.  It's $2-3K to add that, so that option was scuttled. 
- I had been in touch with a guy for his 2003 Toyota Matrix XRS for a couple weeks.  It was originally from California but had been exported to Canada.  I had requested the manufacturer's certificate/statement online from Toyota but they came back asking for proof of ownership, so the seller had to take over from there.  As an aside, ownership wasn't an issue for the Mazda request and I was able to get that directly in ~3 days.  Anyway, the Matrix seller was able to go to his local Toyota dealership and get it within a day. 
- With that in place, we went up, saw and drove the car, negotiated a price (down from the tentatively agreed-upon price due to more work I felt the car needed), and then went to the ICBC (Canadian licensing/insurance/registration office).  That part actually took the longest.  As a heads up to Americans, Canadian license plates are tied to their insurance, so they keep their plates and you are obligated to buy a temporary operating permit (~$35) with temporary paper plates and insurance to get it to the border.  We also had to pay some unexpected taxes but more on that later. 
- We then drove both our cars back to the border and went through U.S. Customs.  Getting through Customs only took about 15 minutes.  It was Saturday evening at that point and traffic was fairly light.  All the paperwork was in order, so it was just procedural.  Additionally, we didn't have to pay any import tax (since the car was made in North America; and since it was originally a U.S. car).  They give you a stamped Entry Summary form to be used later when registering the vehicle.  Unfortunately it was too late to head to the registration office at that point, but since it needed emissions, we couldn't have officially registered it then anyway.
- On Monday I stopped by one registration office who informed me that it needed emissions before registration could move forward.  They gave me an estimate of all the fees and I bought a $5 two-day temporary operating permit.
- The car passed emissions on Tuesday and I was able to get it registered.  The official registration office wasn't convenient at that point so I went to another, which ended up being greatly beneficial.  The original office was oblivious, but the new office informed me that the PST tax paid on the Canadian Transfer/Tax Form (~$388) was deductible from the U.S. tax.  So while the Canadian tax was unexpected, it netted out to be a non-issue. 
- I anticipate another ~$1500-1800 for new tires and suspension (which is badly needed) but all told, I should have a great car for less than $5500. 
- I've also debated turning around and selling it.  Aspects of the car are fantastic (the engine, efficiency, and utility of the vehicle), but it's loud on the road and the handling isn't great.  Both those should get much better with the tires and suspension, but whether or not they get to the point where I'm happy with them is a toss-up. 
- We thought the purchase would be faster and Customs would be much slower.  The opposite was true, but the end result was about what we expected.  It took four hours from the time we first met the seller, to getting it past Customs. 
- All in all, it wasn't too tough to make it all happen.  But if you go in knowing it's going to be a somewhat glacial process, and you're willing to walk away from the deal if it's not the right car or other issues come up, it's a decent option.  And we planned a weekend getaway into the trip as well, so outside of the car-buying process, we ate some great food, enjoyed the area, and brought back some Canadian craft beer to share with friends. 

cheddarpie

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 244
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Buying a used car in Canada for import to US
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2016, 02:38:28 PM »
Cool!  Really helpful to hear your experience, and glad it was relatively easy for you!