Importing vehicles from countries other than the United States

Did you know that most vehicles sold in countries other than the United States (U.S.) cannot be imported into Canada?

If you are considering importing a vehicle you bought in a country other than the U.S. you need to know that:

  • It is a criminal offense to import a vehicle into Canada that does not meet the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (the Act). Offences and penalties are described in Section 17 of the Act.
  • Inadmissible vehicles are denied entry into Canada and detained. All storage and disposal fees are the responsibility of the importer.

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Vehicles manufactured for foreign markets

You cannot import a vehicle made in North America if it was built and certified to meet the vehicle standards of a foreign country (other than the U.S.). The vehicle would not have complied with Canadian safety standards at the time of main assembly, which is required by the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

The Act also does not allow you to modify such a vehicle to meet Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Special circumstances allowing imports from outside the U.S.

The following circumstances allow people to import vehicles from a country other than the United States:

  • The vehicle is 15 years old or older, based on the month and year of its manufacture, it belongs to a regulated class of vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (the Act) and is not a bus.
  • The vehicle is a bus manufactured before January 1, 1971.
  • The vehicle is non-regulated, meaning it does not belong to a class of vehicle regulated under the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations.
  • The vehicle meets all Canadian standards, and was bought NEW as part of a manufacturer's foreign buyer program abroad. The importer must pre-authorize the vehicle's entry with Transport Canada.
  • The vehicle is a returning Canadian-specification vehicle – originally owned in Canada - and it still complies with Canadian standards. The importer can request pre-authorization from Transport Canada for the vehicle's entry.
  • The vehicle met all U.S. federal motor vehicle safety standards when built – was bought NEW abroad as part of a U.S. specification foreign delivery program - or is returning after having been originally purchased or owned as a U.S. specification vehicle in the U.S. The importer must pre-authorize its entry with Transport Canada to clear the border. The vehicle then has to successfully complete the Registrar of Imported Vehicles program in Canada before it can be presented for registration with the province or territory. This includes confirming the absence of any unresolved manufacturer recall(s) and inspecting it to ensure it has not been modified.

Find out more about importing vehicles by reading:

Contact us for more information on importing vehicles

Transport Canada 
Motor Vehicle Safety

Telephone: 1-800-333-0371 (toll-free), 1-613-998-8616 (Ottawa region) 

Related links

This web site is meant as a helpful reference. It has no legal force or effect. To fully understand the law, consult the Motor Vehicle Safety Act S.C. 1993, c.16, and the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations.

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