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Old 11-05-2006, 10:36 AM   #1
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How to Import from USA into Canada

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).
http://www.riv.ca/english/html/how_to_import.html

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.

Good luck!

Cheers,
Michelle
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Old 11-05-2006, 12:46 PM   #2
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Michelle, great thread. I crossed the border both ways at Buffalo/Ft. Erie in the past two weeks. With all we hear about homeland security it was in my opinion a joke.
Canadian border guy didn't even ask for my i.d.
Coming back in the U.S. guy took my documents and looked at them.... 30 seconds later I'm homeward bound.

You picked a great time to purchase a new AS in the USA. The Canadian buck is at a great rate lately agains our weakening US dollar. Good luck with you new toy.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:35 PM   #3
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Hi Michelle,

Thank you, this information is very handy and quite helpful.

BasWen
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Old 03-13-2008, 08:23 PM   #4
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When we picked up a 52 in Seattle last May with our friend the buyer it was dead simple. WA state temporary permit picked up by the seller with the name of the buyer on it as the driver.

Clear bill of sale, witnessed and phone numbers available for Customs to call if questions. The sellers Drivers License number and current address.

Got to Canada Customs, showed them the paperwork, over to pay GST and out of there in 15 minutes. Only BC item was to pay PST when the trailer was first registered.

Doesn't get much easier than that.

Barry
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Old 06-24-2008, 09:55 AM   #5
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Thanks for this...

Quote:
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.
Thanks Michelle.

This is helpful. We have purchased a 2008 25 SE FB in Eugene Oregon to import to Victoria BC. I've tried to contact US Customs over this question & have drawn nothing but blanks...I had the impression that travel trailers were exempt but couldn't confirm this with them.

So I do not need to notify US Customs of my intentions? That simplifies things.

Cheers.

-evan
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:01 AM   #6
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I think you just take care of it when you arrive at the border.
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:08 AM   #7
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Excellent thread! I'm looking for a used AS, and the US pricing still seems w-a-y below what dealers are charging here, so hopefully, I will get to use your advice.

If it's not a problem, would you care to mention the dealer you purchased from down there?

Regards,
Aage
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:13 AM   #8
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Oregon is a long way for you to go for a trailer, Aage!
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Old 06-24-2008, 07:47 PM   #9
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Well, yes, that might be just a smidge too far, Cameron. And yet, one kind reader already gave me a dealer recommendation quite a bit closer.

Since there is nothing compelling me to hit a certain date with my purchase, I can wait for -the- one. SWMBO has "suggested" that it be a purchase for next season, since our daughter's wedding this August takes precedence over any other projects.

So, I won't rule anything out until it feels right.
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aage View Post
Excellent thread! I'm looking for a used AS, and the US pricing still seems w-a-y below what dealers are charging here, so hopefully, I will get to use your advice.

If it's not a problem, would you care to mention the dealer you purchased from down there?

Regards,
Aage
Hi Aage,

Yes. Our BC Airstream Dealer told me that they could NOT even come close to the quotes I had from the US Oregon dealership (~ $6+K difference) and they were unable to get anymore 2008's. (IMHO, the 2009 Flying Cloud 25 SE FB has a different sink / galley configuration that is not nearly as practical as the 2008 version - this was a deal breaker for me / us. )

So we jumped this year instead of next, to secure a 2008 & bought our unit from Sutton RV in Eugene. So far so good, but we haven't picked it up yet. I have no reason to be anything but optimistic but it ain't over until we've cleared customs and that fat silver lady is singing in our driveway
''''""''''

I would think that Colonial Airstream in New Jersey would be a good choice out your way. Their prices are similar to Sutton & much better than the Canadian sticker prices.

Good luck in your decisions.

-evan
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Old 06-25-2008, 05:24 AM   #11
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Aage,

I ended up purchasing my Airstream at Parkview RV in Smyrna, Delaware. They were very kind and courteous. It ends up that Delaware doesn't have any sales tax so it simplified matters in the purchase (whether or not to pay any sales tax, how to be reimbursed if possible, etc.).

What I did was I looked at every single Airstream dealership's websites on the Eastern seaboard all the way down to Florida, and looked at their inventory until I found something that fit. Some may find that process tedious, but I enjoy the hunt so to speak.

Good luck!
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:31 PM   #12
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Thank you very much for your detailed experience. I'm also importing a trailer into Canada (Quebec), and I'm having a really tough time with insurance. Did you manage to insure the trailer for the drive up, etc.? My insurance company refuses the insure the trailer before it has a Quebec license plate on it.

js.
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:18 PM   #13
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Insurance...

Hi there,

We purchased our A/S last July from an Oregon Dealer. They told us there would be no problem getting a temporary permit to drive it home - which was true; but, when we got down there & picked it up, it became apparent that we had a license to move the trailer on the road but no collision insurance on the trailer (liability was covered by the tow vehicle insurance.) A somewhat panicky phone call & several faxes later, we were able to get temporary insurance through ICBC through our agent (BCAA) here in Victoria. We should have been able to arrange this ahead of time but I had misunderstood what we were getting with the Oregon permit.

I would think you should be able to get some sort of short term collision policy to cover you for the drive home...tell them you will insure with them when you get home.

Good luck. It's smart of you to clarify this ahead of time.

-evan
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