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"Kit Cars" in Canada

Fact Sheet TP 2436E
RS-2008-04
April 2008

Road Safety and Motor Vehicle
Regulation Directorate



Are you a hobby builder who plans to:

  • manufacture kit cars or reproduction vehicles in Canada for the purpose of sale;
  • import kit cars or reproduction vehicles into Canada;
  • amateur build a kit car in Canada using an imported starter kit; or
  • amateur build a kit car in Canada using a Canadian starter kit?

If you are, it is important that you know and obey Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Act (the Act).

The Act requires that vehicles made in Canada for the purpose of interprovincial sale, or imported into Canada, be certified to federal safety standards by their original manufacturer. Since most kit cars meet Transport Canada's definition of a "passenger car", they must meet the safety standards for that class.

Manufacturing kit cars in Canada

Manufacturers must design, build, test and certify their products to meet all Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS), according to approved test methods and keep records of the results.

Before starting a vehicle manufacturing business in Canada, you must show Transport Canada's Road Safety Directorate that your prototype vehicles, as tested, meet all federal safety standards (Section 5(1)(g) of the Act). Section 5 of the Act applies whether the vehicles are shipped already assembled or in pieces for the buyer to assemble.

You must prove that you followed approved test methods and place all required information on the vehicle. When satisfied, Transport Canada (TC) will give you authority to place the national safety mark on your products.

Importing kit cars into Canada

If you want to import a kit car or a reproduction vehicle that can be driven, you must provide proof that it meets all passenger car class CMVSS before importing it. There is no difference, under the Act, between assembled and disassembled vehicles. Note: Most kit cars do NOT qualify. Therefore, kit cars cannot be manufactured to sell in Canada or imported into Canada.

Amateur building of kit cars from imported starter kits

Is a starter kit a car or parts? Shipment contents provide useful clues, and each import is considered on its own merits. TC may ask for a complete parts list (not including attachment hardware).

In a parts shipment/starter kit, important systems such as the fuel system, the brake system, the power train and the suspension system are not included.

When these systems are completely absent, the kit will likely pass Customs if:

  • the kit is not assembled (the body and frame are separate);
  • the wiring harness, steering system and interior parts are not installed (with the possible exception of the windshield, some trim and the instrument panel).

Importing a starter kit

TC suggests that you research and visit the company that is manufacturing your kit and make sure that the kit will clear Customs before you make any payments.

If you plan to build your own car using an imported starter kit, you can make clearing Customs easier if you:

  1. Have the manufacturer fax send you an exact packing list of the parts that will be in the container when it reaches Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and fax it to TC before you buy the kit.
     
  2. Make sure the list:
    • has a number on each page that will correspond with the import documents;
    • has the manufacturer's name in the letterhead; and
    • exactly matches the packing list supplied with the shipment and the parts that will be in it.
       
    Since you are importing parts only, you will need a detailed list of every part, as you would get from any parts counter, including part numbers (except nuts, bolts, washers, clips, fasteners, etc., which can be listed together). TC will not accept a list of parts that are deleted from a kit.

    Note: Importing a kit from a private sale can pose a problem, but TC will review the parts list without part numbers and determine each case on its own merits.
     
  3. Fill out and sign the declaration form you will find at the end of this document and fax it and the parts list to 613-998-8541.

    If TC considers that the parts on the list do NOT add up to a motor vehicle that can be certified, you will receive a form letter to present to CBSA. The letter will state that the shipment is admissible as "parts only" and that no other shipments may follow.

Amateur building kit car from Canadian starter kits

It is likely against the law for a Canadian kit car manufacturer to sell kits with too many parts, such as the important systems listed earlier.

Important Notes:

  • It is against the law (sections 5 (1) and 6 of the Act) to import a vehicle or sell a new vehicle in Canada that does not meet CMVSS. Importing such a vehicle in different shipments is a violation punishable under section 17 of the Act.
     
  • This document has been prepared as a helpful reference. It has no legal force or effect. To interpret and apply the law, consult the Motor Vehicle Safety Act S.C. 1993, c.16, and the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations at www.tc.gc.ca.

For more information on Kit Cars please: