Archive for January, 2006

Rich’s Guide to Buying & Importing a US car into Vancouver BC, Canada

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

This is a Guide written by Rich Sandor, based on his experiences importing a Porsche into Canada in 2006. Please note that laws and requirements may have changed slightly since this time. Always check the RIV website for the latest information on laws and requirements regarding importing cars into Canada .

A. Determine Eligibility:

You must first determine whether or not you can even import the car. Basically, any car over 15 years old, can be imported into Canada . If the car is LESS than 15 years old, it MUST go through the RIV process, which does not allow certain foreign cars for import into Canada . Check www.riv.ca for eligibility.

B. Calculating costs:

– Cost in USD$ x exchange rate = CDN$ that you pay for the car.
+ Costs to transport car: (Airline tickets, shipping and or fuel costs, etc..)
+ Declared CDN$ value x 11.1% GST/Duty (6.1% duty on foreign cars)
+ $100 ac fee (if car has a/c installed)
+ $180 RIV fee (if less than 15yrs old)
+ $80-160 for provincial inspection (1 hour labour)
+ Costs to FIX car if required.
+ Declared CDN$ x (7%PST) = Tax you pay at Autoplan when registering, if you wish to put plates on the car and insure it!
= Total cost to import.
( you do NOT have to register at all if you do not need to put BC plates on the car – you can let the next owner do that, and save yourself from paying the PST)

– If “total cost to import” is LESS than current market value, then BUY the car!!

Example: $5000usd 1986 Porsche 944 turbo in excellent condition:

$5500cdn for car
$175cdn Airline ticket to LA
$200cdn in gas to drive from LA to Vancouver
$175cdn speeding ticket in Oregon
$385cdn 7%GST 5% GST @border
$335.5cdn 6.1%Duty @border
$100cdn A/C fee @border
$0 RIV fee (car is over 15 years old)
$100 provincial inspection (labour)
$0 required to pass inspection (if you’re lucky!!)

Total: $6970cdn to get the car in Canada . ($7355 to register it at Autoplan and get plates)

Market value (in Vancouver) of a 1986 Porsche 944 in excellent condition is about $13,000cdn.

A smart person would see a financial opportunity here…

1. Buying the car:

– Go thru carfax and make sure it’s not stolen, write-off, or has a liens on it

– You’ll need a bill of sale with VIN#, mileage, date, and price$, signed by the seller and buyer.

– You’ll need a copy of the title before you pick up the car (so you can fax it to US customs 3 business days before you bring the car to the border!)

– And the original title when you pick up the car

– If you are driving the car, you should have a BINDER insurance from Autoplan / ICBC to cover you from A to B

– If the autoplan insurance agent doesn’t know how to do a binder, RUN away and go elsewhere!!! (really, some of them don’t know how to do it!!!)

– Plates SHOULD come with the car from the state it was previously registered in. (if it was registered at all!)

– If it was not registered yet, you’ll need a permit from the state to drive it, or else you must ship the car.

– To legally drive a car, it must be registered (does not matter where) and Insured!! In the states, a current license plate serves as your registration, and an ICBC binder will serve as your insurance, so you are legal to drive the car until you arrive at your destination!

2. Exporting the car from the US :

– US Customs must have: a completed Worksheet, Copy of Title, and Copy of Bill of sale for 3 business days before you bring the car to the border for export. Call the US customs Vehicle Import team in Blaine WA for this worksheet. They will FAX it to you, or you can pick it up.

– Call to confirm the date when you can bring your car across. (after you’ve faxed everything)

– At the border, park car outside customs, and take original title inside and get it stamped: “exported”

– Go back outside to car and drive to CDN side of the border.

3. Importing the car into Canada :

– At CDN border, you must declare the value of your car purchase. The border officer will write a slip with that value which you must take inside the customs building. Park your car outside.

– Inside the CDN customs building, an officer will fill out the proper paperwork and confirm the value of the vehicle to calculate your taxes. (GST and Duty) If you claim to have paid well below market value to get a break on taxes, they might become suspicious and investigate.

– False claims on import taxes, is a serious federal offense and could prevent you from importing cars in the future. You will also be fined to high heaven if caught. Don’t be stupid here!

– You will pay the GST, Duty, based on your declaration, and a $100 AC fee (if ac equipped) and a $180 RIV fee (if the car is under 15 yrs old.) This must be paid AT THE BORDER.

note: You can ONLY use a credit card when paying the RIV fee. If you use a cheque, it will take 10 days to clear, and only then will the RIV get your info from the border. ***They do not take cash or debit for the RIV fee.***

– You can pay the GST, Duty, and AC fee via Debit car or CC, however.

– Once the payments are made and paperwork completed, an officer should go outside to confirm the VIN# on the car.

4a. FEDERAL inspection- Req’d only for cars LESS than 15 years old:

– If the car went through the RIV program, you have 45 days (+10 day grace period) to get the FEDERAL inspection done.

– If you do not receive your Federal Inspection worksheet from RIV Canada, phone them and have it emailed to you.

– Federal inspections can be done at any Canadian Tire – for FREE.

– The inspection facility should FAX the completed Federal Inspection Worksheet to RIV Canada

– You will then receive a sticker in the mail from RIV Canada that says your car meets federal safety standards. This can take anywhere from 1 month to 1 year.

– If you are running out of time, phone RIV Canada and ask for an extension.

4b. PROVINCIAL inspection – req’d in order to get BC plates!:

– Take the car to any authorized shop to get a Provincial Inspection ($60 -$200 depending on shop)

– Once complete, they will put a STICKER on the inspection form, which will go to your autoplan agent.

– You will NOT be able to register the car without this sticker on the form!!!

5. Autoplan registration:

– Once you have a completed Provincial inspection with the sticker on the form, (And completed RIV if req’d) you can register the car at any Autoplan office. Bring all of your forms and bills of sale.

– You CAN avoid paying PST by not registering the car yourself, and passing that on to the next buyer. (as they would have to pay the PST ANYWAYS…)

– However, you cannot put PLATES or long term insurance on the car if you do not register it.

– Note: BC’s Motor Vehicle Act requires vehicles being used in BC to be registered after a certain period of time, however, this seems to be impossible to enforce. You can theoretically keep an imported but unregistered car in your garage and just put “temporary operating permits” on it whenever you want to drive it.

– Newly registered cars are exempt from AirCare for the first INSURANCE PERIOD only. (be it 1 month or 1 year)

– You will pay the PST on the declared value, plus the cost of insurance you choose.

That’s all Folks!