Importing Cars from Canada – Is It Worth It?

Based on the state of the currency values, importing or exporting cars from Canada can look like an attractive proposition, especially for exotic cars.

The US dollar has been consistently stronger than the Canadian dollar since the start of 2012, so you could leverage this for watches and cars. This is something Canadian buyers and sellers already know.

However, before you engage in the process of importing a Canadian car, there are two questions you should ask yourself.

First, is the currency play enough to offset the additional costs?

Here are some added costs you’ll have to keep in mind when bringing a car over:

  • There will be an import tax of 8-10% which will also cover the legalization of the car.
  • You still may also be liable for sales tax on the vehicle, which ranges from 0-10% by state.
  • You’ll need to get the car here. Our Insider’s choice for auto transport can assist with shipping and will most likely cost $800-$1200 from the Canadian border to a US entry point, and then whatever the actual shipping is from state to state. The average import cost is $2,500 door to door.

Second, do you have the resources to deal with the extra paperwork and other issues that can arise with importing a car?

  • There are no titles in Canada, so cars are issued a US title when entering the country. This can cause a delay for registration.
  • Documentation needed is extensive. From U.S Customs and Border Patrol: “For CBP clearance you will need the shipper’s or carrier’s original bill of lading, the bill of sale, foreign registration, and any other documents covering the vehicle. You will also be required to complete EPA form 3520-1 and DOT form HS-7, declaring the emissions and safety provisions under which the vehicle is being imported. Vehicles that meet all U.S. emission requirements will bear manufacturer’s label on the engine compartment in English, attesting to that fact. For vehicles that lack such a label, the CBP inspector at the port of entry may require proof of eligibility to import under the EPA exemptions or exclusions specified on form 3520-1. […] Vehicles entering the United States that do not conform with U.S. safety standards must be brought into compliance, exported, or destroyed
  • Per the above, safety and emissions laws differ between Canada and the US, which could mean costly changes to your exhaust system or other vehicle systems before being allowed to legally drive in the states
  • Some buyers are skeptical about cars that originated in Canada, especially high-end exotics, because Canadian winters aren’t conducive for exotic car ownership.

The reality is that buying a car from Canada could be worth it, but it requires work that you may not have the resources to complete efficiently.

Often when factoring in the costs of shipping, import tax, registration fees, and inspections needed, the cost will often wind up higher than what our Insiders are negotiating for comparable if not better cars that are already here in the United States.


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