I thought I'd pass along my experiences with successfully importing a trailer from the U.S. into Canada, hopefully helping others that are interested in undertaking this adventure.
These are the steps we followed in order to import our new 2005 Airstream trailer - specifically into Ontario. Some of the steps may be different if importing into a different province; check with your local regulations. The following steps were current as of August 2006, and specific for a travel trailer as opposed to a Class A or C motorhome.
Finally, ensure that regulations haven't changed since...
1. I went to Transport Canada's Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV).
2. I checked to see if the trailer was admissible on the above website (pdf document). All travel trailers that are less than fifteen years old are admissible. If the trailer is over fifteen years old, I believe that it would be exempt from the RIV program, and you may import it and not have to deal with the usual governmental red tape.
3. I called Airstream in Ohio and asked them to fax me a recall clearance letter. They apparently do many of these and are accustomed to the request.
4. I also asked them to verify the VIN given to me by the dealer.
5. I drove down to Delaware to finalize the paperwork. I purchased the trailer from a dealer, so some of the following steps were done for me by the dealer: I obtained a notarized bill of sale, the title, purchased a temporary tag and registration, and ensured it had the appropriate VIN sticker.
6. U.S. Customs requires notification 72 hours prior to exportation of self-propelled vehicles; I didn't have to do this for the trailer for obvious reasons.
7. Drove the trailer to the nearest border entry point, which in my case was Thousand Islands.
8. Drove right up to the border guard as normally, and declared my rather large purchase. I was told to park and enter inside.
9. The whole procedure took less than 15 minutes - I provided my bill of sale and documentation to the border guard. They walked outside to check the VIN, went back inside to finish the paperwork, Vehicle Import Form - Form 1. At that point I paid the GST (goods and services tax) which at the time was 6% of the total. They also opened a file with Transport Canada's RIV (Registrar of Imported Vehicles). This cost an extra $206.70 ($195 + GST). And that was it for the border - no one opened the door of the trailer or inspected it at all, but I suspect that's the luck of the draw.
10. As an aside, I'd like to give one bit of advice: ensure the paperwork is filled out with half-decent handwriting. Sounds a bit odd, but the main and most important document is filled out by hand, and in my case the border guard was all of about 25 years old and had appalling handwriting. As a result (and unbeknownst to me) there were several major snags all stemming from my name, address and VIN being improperly transcribed.
11. Once a file has been opened with RIV (by paying the $206 fee) they'll mail you a letter with your inspection document (Form 2) within 10 days. This form indicates what should be done to bring the trailer in compliance, as well as provides the last date by which the trailer/vehicle is to be brought into compliance, which is 45 days from date of entry. In my case, Form 2 was a checklist for the federal inspector, listing such items as "Reflectors and/or lights must meet with CMVSS 108 Standards", or that we have the Recall Clearance Letter, Tire Type, Max. load rating, verify VIN.... All of the items in the checklist were very easily verifiable by the inspector, requiring no modifications on my part whatsoever. But more on that below.
12. I made an appointment to get the trailer inspected. In Ontario at least, these are done at many Canadian Tire locations. I simply called one of the larger centres in town to ensure they did inspections and an appointment was easily made.
13. The inspection went well - very easy. The inspector wanted to see the Recall Clearance Letter as well as the Form 1 (the form I obtained at the Border). We went out to see the trailer and he filled out Form 2, such as GVWR, tire pressures, VIN, etc... He stamped my Form 1, he kept the Form 2 plus the Recall Clearance Letter, and that was that. There was no cost for this inspection.
14. I then took all my remaining paperwork to my local Ministry licensing office. I showed them the stamped Form 1, the Casual Goods Accounting Document (which is the white and blue receipt issued at the border at time of importation), the bill of sale and the title (note on this below), plus insurance information. I then paid the Provincial Sales Tax (PST @ 8%) plus an additional $20 for the license plate. More info for Ontario can be found here: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dan...e/rgoutcan.htm
Note: I wanted to keep my original title, as a sort of memento from my first Airstream purchase. The original title is a very nice-looking document, showing where it was originally purchased, it's history etc... So I made a very nice colour copy of the title as outlined in the Ontario Ministry website:
"If you have a Certificate of Title in your name and wish to keep it, you must provide a legible photocopy of the title with the original. The licence office will view the original title, keep the photocopy and return the original to you at the same time. The ministry does not mail back titles to applicants. Make sure you collect your title before you leave the licence office."
I ran into some problems with the above - it's something they don't do I was told, with numerous employees consulted. Good thing I had the printout from their website. If I had followed the usual procedures they'd have taken the nice original title, done who knows what with it and issued me a very boring title with no history on it - a very sterile-looking ugly document. As it was, I politely stuck to my guns and was able to keep the original, in addition to walking out with the sterile new title. 'Nuff said.
15. Affixed the new license to the trailer (unfortunately couldn't get a personalised plate).
16. As a final chapter to this saga, RIV sent me the Canadian Certification Label sticker that I affixed to the outside of the trailer.
And that's it.
All in all it was a relatively pain-free adventure. We ended up saving approx. $20K so we gladly jumped through the necessary hoops.