Expats: How To Import And Register Your Car In Canada

If you're moving to Canada from the United States, it may be possible for you to bring your car with you. However, the process is quite challenging since all cars do not meet import standards. From bans on certain types of cars to strict emission regulations, there are several laws that may prevent you from bringing your car into the country.

Fortunately, cars that have been manufactured for the states or the Northern American market are easier to import than cars from overseas since many cars manufactured for Europe and other countries cannot be modified to comply with Canadian standards. But there are still many hoops to jump through. The following will guide you through the process of importing and registering your car in Canada.

Check Acceptable Car List

The Registrar of Imported Vehicles, RIV, maintains a list of vehicle requirements and outlines what types of vehicles can be imported into the country. Before trying to import a vehicle, you must check this list to see if your car qualifies. Since the list is quite extensive and you might not know all information regarding your vehicle, such as mechanical and emissions information, you may wish to consult a mechanic to inspect your car to see if it passes.

Pass Through Customs

When you enter Canada with the intent to import and register your car within the country, you must report your intentions to U.S. customs and the Canada Border Services Agency. It is also necessary for you to fill out export papers and complete requirements for exporting the car from the states. Since this all takes time, the border crossing center usually requires that you send paperwork in advance. It's a good idea, then, to start early. You will also be required to pay a fee upon entry and you may have to pay a tax based on the value of your car. 

Gather Necessary Paperwork

Before you can get your car inspected and registered in Canada, you must gather the necessary paperwork. Paperwork you must take with you to the provincial licensing department include:   

  • Valid Canadian driver's license
  • Title and other ownership papers
  • Current or old registration
  • Vehicle import form obtained from RIV
  • Proof of insurance
  • Certificate of mechanical inspection if importing a new car

If you have questions or issues pertaining to obtaining the necessary paperwork, the RIV or provincial licensing department like The Registry Depot may be able to help you. The process of importing and registering a car in Canada can be quite daunting. However, it is possible. Be sure to start early and ask a lot of questions to avoid confusion and stress while crossing the border. 


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