Frequently Asked Questions - Importing vehicles purchased in countries OTHER than the United States

Does the Motor Vehicle Safety Act allow Canadians to import vehicles bought in a foreign country (other than the United States)?

No. Most vehicles manufactured for sale in countries other than the United States do not comply with Motor Vehicle Safety Act requirements so CANNOT be imported into Canada. There are no provisions in the Act that allow you to modify a vehicle sold in a country other than the United States to meet Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS).

Note: There are certain circumstances (age, non-regulated vehicles and foreign buyer programs) that allow you to import a vehicle if it meets Canada Border Services Agency admissibility requirements. Canadians wanting to import vehicles under these circumstances should first contact Transport Canada at 1-800-333-0371 or by e-mail at mvs-sa@tc.gc.ca to learn more.

Other than age, are there other reasons a motor vehicle bought outside the United States is exempt from having to comply with the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Act at importation?

Yes. Some vehicles are considered non-regulated either because of their design characteristics OR the temporary nature of their entry into Canada. Canada border officials assess these criteria when someone presents a vehicle at a point of entry into Canada. 

Note: It is very important that importers research the admissibility of a non-regulated vehicle before presenting it at a Canadian port of entry. This will greatly reduce the risk of its entry being denied. 

What is a foreign manufacturer delivery program?

A foreign manufacturer delivery program, or foreign buyer program, allows for persons visiting, studying or working abroad to purchase a vehicle while abroad, that is certified to the standards of the country in which they reside permanently, with the intent to eventually export it to that country.

Canadians temporarily abroad who purchase vehicles via such programs must arrange delivery directly from the manufacturer foreign outlet. They can then eventually present the vehicle for entry into Canada as a Canadian-specification vehicle if:

  1. It was certified by the original manufacturer to comply with Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, as evidenced by a statement of compliance label affixed to the vehicle by the original manufacturer or a letter from the manufacturer; and
  2. The vehicle was purchased NEW (where the importer is the first owner).
  3. The vehicle has not been altered and the original manufacturer certification is maintained.

Note: Canadians who buy United States certified vehicles under such programs must meet further requirements under Canadian vehicle import regulations.

Canadians wanting to import vehicles under these circumstances should contact Transport Canada before shipping a vehicle to Canada at 1-800-333-0371 or by e-mail at mvs-sa@tc.gc.ca to learn more.

I own a fully Canadian compliant vehicle in a foreign country (other than the United States). May I import it into Canada?

If you own a fully Canadian compliant vehicle in a foreign country other than the United States that was either originally sold as new in Canada prior to its export from Canada or acquired via a foreign manufacturer delivery program abroad, it may be eligible for importation into Canada if it was not altered and the original manufacturer certification is maintained. It must also meet additional Canada Border Services Agency entry requirements.

We suggest importers confirm compliance with Transport Canada before shipping the vehicle to Canada by phone at 1-800-333-0371 or by email at mvs-sa@tc.gc.ca.

If the vehicle complies with Canadian import regulations, Canada Border Services Agency officials will verify the vehicle’s compliance certification and ownership upon entry into Canada as well as perform additional border clearance duties which may further restrict entry if not successful. Please contact the Canada Border Services Agency if you have any questions about the process.

I own a fully United States compliant vehicle in a foreign country (other than the United States). May I import it into Canada?

Only fully US compliant vehicles originally sold in the United States can be imported into Canada on the condition that they:

  • were originally manufactured to comply with all applicable US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and
  • can be made to comply with Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS).

Notes:

  1. Canadian customs laws prohibit importing used vehicles under certain conditions when originating from outside the United States. Importers seeking to import a vehicle under these conditions should first contact the Canada Border Services Agency to learn more.
  2. When a U.S. vehicle being presented for importation is a vehicle that was originally sold in the United States, exported to a foreign country and seeking to re-enter into Canada, the importer must be able to provide satisfactory documentation to that effect. If the vehicle is eligible for importation under Canadian customs legislation, the vehicle would then be required to meet all admissibility requirements under the Registrar of Imported Vehicles program.
  3. Canada Border Services Agency officials will verify the vehicle’s certification and ownership upon entry into Canada. They will also verify inspect it for soil contaminants.

We suggest importers confirm compliance documentation with Transport Canada before shipping the vehicle to Canada by phone at 1-800-333-0371 or by email at mvs-sa@tc.gc.ca.

I own a vehicle in a foreign country (other than the United States) that was manufactured in North America. Does it automatically qualify for importation into Canada?

No. You cannot import a vehicle manufactured in North America that was certified for export to a foreign market because it fails to comply with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA) which requires a vehicle to comply with all applicable Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) at the time of main assembly.

Furthermore, there are no provisions in the MVSA that allow you to modify a vehicle sold in a country other than the United States to meet CMVSS.

I own a non-regulated class of vehicle in a foreign country other than the United States. How do I import it?

Even though your vehicle is not subject to comply with Motor Vehicle Safety Act, Canada Border Services Agency officers will inspect it upon entry. They will examine the vehicle to:

  • confirm its non-regulated status;
  • inspect if for possible soil contaminants;
  • examine the ownerships documents;
  • collect any applicable taxes and/or duties; and
  • determine overall admissibility according to other regulations that may apply.

Please contact the Canada Border Services Agency for full details.

I have received permanent residency in Canada and I live outside the United States. May I import my personal vehicle?

If you bought your vehicle under normal conditions while residing in a foreign country outside the United States, you CANNOT import your vehicle because it was not manufactured to comply with Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. In fact, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA) does not allow you to modify the vehicle to comply.

If the vehicle is fifteen (15) years old or older, as determined by the month and year it was manufactured, or is a bus manufactured before January 1, 1971, it is considered admissible because it is no longer regulated under the MVSA. A non-regulated vehicle may also qualify as exempt. Nonetheless, these unregulated vehicles must also meet Canada Border Services Agency admissibility requirements.

I have received temporary residency visa for Canada to study or work. May I bring my personal vehicle without having to formally import it?

Canadian Border Services Agency officers will apply section 7(1)(b) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA) to persons entering under a work permit or student visa . This means that since you are a visitor, your motor vehicle may enter Canada temporarily without having to comply with the MVSA.

Notes:

  1. You alone may use the vehicle.
  2. Any change in your status, such as receiving permanent residency in Canada, may make your vehicle inadmissible and you will be required to export or destroy it.
  3. You may not sell or gift the vehicle while in Canada.
  4. The vehicle cannot remain in Canada longer than the time limits listed on the work permit, student visa or any other Customs authorization.

I will be visiting Canada with my vehicle. Do I have to formally declare it for importation at the Canadian border?

No. Section 7(1)(b) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA), allows a visitor to temporarily enter Canada with a motor vehicle without complying with the MVSA if the vehicle is used only by a visitor to Canada or a person passing through Canada en route to another country.

Notes:

  1. You alone may use the vehicle.
  2. Any change in your status, such as receiving permanent residency in Canada, may make your vehicle inadmissible and you will be required to export or destroy it.
  3. You may not sell or gift the vehicle while in Canada.
  4. The vehicle cannot remain in Canada longer than the time limits allowed under your temporary entry.

My status has changed from temporary to permanent resident while in Canada with my vehicle. How does that affect my vehicle?

If your vehicle is eligible for importation, you will need to formally declare the vehicle along with your personal effects to the Canada Border Services Agency and fulfill all import requirements.

If your vehicle does not comply with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, you must export or destroy it when your temporary entry status becomes permanent.

Notes:

  1. Temporary residents and visitors cannot sell or donate their vehicle while in Canada
  2. Your vehicle cannot remain in Canada for a period longer than the time limits listed on your work permit, student visa or any other Customs authorization.

How do I arrange to ship a vehicle into Canada from overseas? Can you recommend anybody?

Transport Canada does not endorse any shipping companies or brokers. Shipping a vehicle is your responsibility.

May I import individual motor vehicle parts from outside the United States?

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA) does not regulate shipments of individual parts, with the exception of tires, child car seats and booster seats. This means you may import a shipment of disassembled automotive parts if it does not amount to one or more vehicle(s). Canada Border Services Agency officers will detain any shipment when the parts content is unclear and/or may contain enough parts to meet the definition of vehicle under the MVSA.

Canadians wanting to import tires, child car seats or booster seats should contact Transport Canada at 1-800-333-0371 or by e-mail at mvs-sa@tc.gc.ca .

May I import tires purchased in a foreign country (other than the United States) into Canada?

Tires are a regulated product in Canada and therefore so is their importation. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers will evaluate a shipment and if the shipment does not meet import requirements, the CSBA will deny its entry into Canada. Contact Transport Canada at 1-800-333-0371 or by e-mail at mvs-sa@tc.gc.ca to learn more.

How do I assess how much tax or duty I may have to pay at the Canadian border when I import a motor vehicle?

Canada Border Services Agency officers collect duties and taxes at importation. If your vehicle is eligible for importation into Canada, please contact the Canada Border Services Agency by dialing toll-free 1-800-461-9999 from within Canada or 1-506-636-5064 from outside Canada (long distance charges may apply), or visit www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca to learn more about duty and taxes.

What happens if Canada border officials find a vehicle inadmissible into Canada when it is presented for importation?

Vehicles found inadmissible are immediately denied entry at the Canadian border. Vehicles granted entry subject to further verification that later fail to meet import requirements in Canada must be exported out of the country or destroyed under supervision of Canadian customs officials.

Note: Importing any vehicle that does not comply with the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is a punishable offence under the Criminal Code.

Once in Canada, how do I register or license a vehicle imported from a foreign country (other than the United States)?

Following a successful importation, provide the import documents obtained to your provincial or territorial licensing authority.

Note: Having successfully importing a vehicle does not guarantee that you will be able to register and license it. For example, some provinces will not license right hand drive vehicles or certain salvage branded vehicles once repaired. Please contact your provincial or territorial licensing department to learn more about registering an imported vehicle.

Contact

  • 1-800-333-0371 (long distance, Canada)
  • 1-613-998-8616 (Ottawa region and from other countries)
  • Email
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