3 Canadian Vehicle Import Scenarios

Moving to Canada is pretty easy. As a matter of fact, moving to Canada from the United States might feel quite like simply moving from Michigan to Minnesota.  Canada and the United States are quite similar in many ways, but they are, in fact two different countries, with different forms of currency and different governments.  But while you prepare for this major uprooting, make sure you do not overlook the fact that you can’t just simply register your car in another country like you could in another state.  There is more to it than that.

When you move from the US to Canada, you have to treat your car almost like an international import. That in mind, lets take a look at the three scenarios under which you might have to import your vehicle from the US to Canada.

SCENARIO #1:  You Bought Your Car in the US

Most cars purchased in the US will have little or no problem with Clearit importation into Canada.  That said, there are a few car models—manufactured in the US or otherwise—that are sold in the US that cannot be imported to Canada.  To clarify these limitations all you have to do is check with the Canadian Registrar of Imported Vehicles.

So lets assume that you bought your car in the US.  The first step is to have your vehicle inspected; the second is to get certification. It is crucial that you understand it is entirely possible to drive a vehicle in Canada without certification, but you will need this certification eventually if you want to register the vehicle in Canada.  Fortunately, you can simply get this registration later (after an inspection, of course).  On the other hand, if your car does not pass this certification you will not be able to continue driving it in Canada, even if you have paid the associated fees.

SCENARIO #2:  You Bought Your Car Outside the US

Basically, this is the opposite of Scenario #1:  most cars bought outside the US will probably not pass certification. The good news, of course, is that a simple modification could be all it takes to qualify for certification. Again, check with the CRIV.

SCENARIO #3:  You Bought a Non-Regulated Car

These vehicles are exempt from CMVSA compliance:

  • Vehicles 15+ years old
  • Temporary use vehicles (ie for foreigners or students)
  • Closed course competition vehicles
  • Power-assisted bicycles