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Old 03-12-2016, 05:23 PM   #1
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2013 30' International
Nanaimo , British Columbia
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Buy in Canada or the US?

We are planning to purchase an AS Flying Cloud new or less than 5 years old and an appropriate TV later this year. We live in Canada (but with easy access to the US PNW) and are looking for advice on whether to buy in Canada or the US (and yes I am aware of the current exchange differential). US dealers seem more up front about prices, posting them on their websites while Canadian dealers ask you to call for current prices. Appreciate any advice, experience from Forum members. Thanks in advance. Regards, Brenda in BC

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Old 03-15-2016, 02:16 AM   #2
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2004 22' Safari
North Vancouver , British Columbia
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I am also in BC and was Airstream shopping for a few months before picking one up privately out of California last week. It is the second trailer I have imported from the US.

I do not think there is much difference regarding the dealers posting prices or call to ask - found the dealer in Seattle as well as Portland both did it frequently as well. I think the difference is they have more trailers to choose from that the dealers here in BC.

You will have no issues importing an Airstream into Canada from the US. Pretty straight forward. Just follow the instructions on the website. You will need a Bill of Sale, Title document from the seller and a Recall Clearance Letter from Airstream - just send the customer service an email with the serial number of the trailer asking for the letter and they will tell you if there have been any recalls that they have no record of having been dealt with on the trailer. In my case the trailer did have a recall that Airstream had no record of the trailer having been in to have fixed (it was minor some rear reflectors missing) so I had to have that dealt with before hitting the border with it. Also make real sure that there is a tag/label on the trailer that states that it "conforms to all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards in effect on the date of manufacture shown" If the trailer is newer than 16 years of age and does not have that tag then do not bother buying it as you will have a real problem getting it through the border and inspection.

Your also best to bring a copy of the original ad for the trailer in case the border staff question you on whether or not the price on your bill of sale is correct or not. Just show up at the border with the trailer and they will fill out the RIVA paper work for you and you pay the GST to them. You then go on line to the RIVA website and pay the RIVA fee of $204.75 using the Transaction number the border staff provide to you. RIVA will then send within 10 days or so the paper work you will need to take the trailer to be inspected (can be done at Canadian Tire). Once inspected you can go get your plates and pay the Provincial tax on it. Your all done!

BTW before you hook the trailer up make sure you get a temp permit from what ever state you purchase it in and call ICBC and get a special insurance rider put on it.... just because it is attached to the truck does not mean it will be covered for damages no matter what anyone trys to tell you on that front. You also can not simple take the plates and insurance from a trailer you already own and put them on the new trailer to bring home. You can get your fingers slapped at the border if you put BC plates on the trailer from one you may already own. No BC plates should go on it until after it has cleared the import process. Not to mention the insurance is not transferable until the the trailer is actually imported anyways - thus the reason you need a special rider from ICBC for it.

Also if you purchase the trailer from a dealer in Arizona they have to deliver the trailer to you outside of the state so you do not have to pay the sales tax in Arizona..... not sure what the situation is in California buying from a dealer but you should double check it as the rules re sales tax payable have changed a bit regarding dealer sales. If you purchase privately in California it is not a problem - you do not need to pay sales tax in that state. Just buy the Trip permit and they give you time to get the trailer out of the country.

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Old 03-15-2016, 04:58 AM   #3
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try to support your local economy if possible.
Al and Jean

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Old 03-15-2016, 06:18 AM   #4
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Burlington , Ontario
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We bought a 3 year old Classic from a dealer in the US and imported it.

Not sure how we made out financially by comparison, but the main reason was that we couldn't find what we wanted in Canada. Luckily we bought when our $ was at par - or maybe even better, I don't recall.

The import process was very easy.Just make sure at the border that when they write the VIN on their forms they do so CLEARLY!

I was warned about this from another owner, and indeed when the CANADIAN BORDER
filled out the form in pen, you couldn't really tell his "S" from a "5" in our VIN.

I tried to politely point out that and received a snotty reply - and no help.

Sure enough, when we got home, I waited and waited for the form I was supposed to receive from the DOT to take the trailer for inspection and none arrived. After two weeks, i contacted them and was eventually told that I had a problem because my VIN did not exist and that I had to return the trailer to the US right away!

I did eventually get it sorted out - the entire problem was created by the border official as I had been forewarned might happen -it did!

Brian & Connie Mitchell

2005 Classic 30'
Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
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Old 03-15-2016, 08:26 AM   #5
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I think any Canadian dealer would be willing to match a US price . I think it is all purchased on that basis from the manufacturer. Personally even if it is a bit more $ I would buy local as you need local dealers and to support your local economy. A private seller will also recognize the exchange difference but the extra cost and time to import may be worth paying a bit of a premium if you can find what you want locally.
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Old 03-15-2016, 10:55 AM   #6
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Victoria , BC
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Hi Brenda,

We bought our 2008 25 FB SE Airstream in Eugene Oregon in July 2008 after Traveland in Langley refused to even come close to matching the quote we got from the Sutton RV in Eugene. (There was a ~$10,000 difference at the time.)

It was quite easy to buy and import the unit. I would be happy to fill you in on further details if you are interested in going that route. Feel free to PM me.

We are actually getting our Airstream all buffed and polished in order to put it on the market. (We bought a boat and can't keep both the Airstream and the Boat in regular use.)

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Old 03-15-2016, 12:05 PM   #7
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Zurich , Ontario
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Also contact US customs where you plan on crossing with the VIN to ensure that there aren't any liens against the TT. With cars you have to go to US customs before crossing into Canada. Think this would apply to the TT as well.

Bought a car in Texas, had bill of sale, etc. but no title or ownership. Us customs would not allow car to leave the states until we had proof of ownership.

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Old 03-15-2016, 12:20 PM   #8
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1996 25' Excella
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I found private prices on Airstreams were more reasonable in the US two years ago but with the $ differential you may not be saving much today. Plus you need to travel long distances to look at the unit. As noted bringing one back from the US is pretty easy but you need to get the title cleared or at least have a search done on it, before you take possession or you might end up losing it first time you go back to the US We then had to take the title in to the US Customs before coming back into Canada where they ran their search and gave us the all clear.
At the time we got a beautiful '89 Excella for $10K US ($17,500 CAN with exchange, HST and fees to have it certified as meeting Ontario requirements. Our best deal in Canada was an '82 or '83 for $25K and no where near as nice as the '89.
We were able to bind insurance coverage on the trailer before we went to get it in Detroit. I just put my old plates on it since it was a short trip and no one at the border actually ever looked at the trailer....just paid the GST at customs and the RVIA fee, and everyone was happy....still ...not legal! We also had to fight with the contract firm doing the certification who said they didn't get their fee, and came really close to the deadline before we got the forms.
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Old 03-15-2016, 12:31 PM   #9
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Hi Brenda. Having bought both ways I can share a couple of stories.
Like another poster, I too purchased my first trailer in Eugene Or. after trying to deal with Traveland in Langly. We lived in Kelowna at the time and it was an easy experience as has also been stated and we saved a lot.
Our next 20ft We purchased in Saskatoon at TRX as they gave me a trade in price ( lowest difference) from anyone else including Eugene. Also with the trade I would have been out the tax refund on the trade.
Our 3rd and last 2014 25 ( so far)International was bought from Midtown in Penticton which was a new and very capable dealer with a good supply of stock. I dealt back and forth with both TRX and Midtown eventually settling on staying local even though there was still a slight difference in price. It was just not worth it as I would have a longer drive and I thought about warranty issues.
I am very glad I stayed local as I was able to get in for all and any issues I had and they even got my lousy Micropulse system replaced with the newer See Level at no cost to me.
They were very up front with prices once you hooked up with a salesperson and explained everything from the base US price to the extra for exchange.
I would go out of my way to deal with them again.
I am just up the road in Qualicum Beach if you need any more info.
Just pm me.

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Old 03-15-2016, 01:03 PM   #10
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Red Deer , Alberta
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We bought our first 2005 22' CCD in Arizona with a private sale off of the classifieds on this site. Had it shipped to the border in Montana for around $1000. Crossing it into Canada is no issue as described in detail above by Northerngirl. We sold it 5 years later in Alberta for $5000 more than we paid 5 years earlier in Arizona(exchange rate was better in those days). Our 2014 25' CCD was another private sale but in Canada this time, trailer bought 6 months earlier in Penticton.

There is a lot more choice down there in used. In my humble opinion, I would never buy new. These trailers are made to last and they will always have little things that need fixed which this forum can always help with.
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Old 03-15-2016, 01:16 PM   #11
Len and Jeanne
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2015 19' Flying Cloud
Creston Valley , British Columbia
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We bought our first AS from Can-Am in London, Ontario, and our second one from Airstream of Spokane. It was a hassle to import our current AS into BC (you need to get an inspection from a licensed inspector of foreign RVs, and ours forgot about our appointment and took off for the day.) Then the taxes at Canadian customs aren't cheap. But looking back on it, these were minor kerfuffles.

Part of the reason for buying in Spokane vs. our nearest dealer in Canada (in Penticton) is that Spokane is a much shorter and better drive for us. (We live in the central Kootenays.) We'd prefer to stick with one dealer-servicer if we can.

Ultimately we'd suggest finding the AS you want the most, and then working out any import issues if these come up.
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Old 03-15-2016, 01:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by BigAl View Post
try to support your local economy if possible.
Al, I tried to do that before heading south for mine.... problem is the dealer here in the lower mainland of BC for the past year has had as few as 2 in stock and at most 4 Airstreams at any given time - so if not the size or model you want you have to go to Seattle to see one in person first regardless. They have had nothing used in the lot over the time I was looking and suggested they rarely get them. Due to the lack of inventory they are not overly willing to negotiate on price either ... wish it isn't so but thats the way it is.

Also checked craigslist daily for private sales... in six months on looking saw only 3 used newer models within a 1500 mile drive posted and all sold Fast (within a day or so of posting) and none where the size or model I was after. Sadly used Airstreams are not as common here in the North as they are to the south.

The local deal will get my support when maintenance times come around though.
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Old 03-15-2016, 02:19 PM   #13
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Qualicum Beach , British Columbia
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The local deal will get my support when maintenance times come around though.[/QUOTE]

I tried that with the one I bought from Eugene. Tried to take it to the Langly dealer and they tried to put me off for a couple of months. Had to make a complaint to the A/S and by gosh they did have an opening for warranty work the next week.
Midtown always has more in stock than Langly.
I just don't bother with Langly. Rather drive to Penticton and make a holiday out of it.

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Old 03-15-2016, 02:39 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Northerngirl View Post
I tried that with the one I bought from Eugene. Tried to take it to the Langly dealer and they tried to put me off for a couple of months. Had to make a complaint to the A/S and by gosh they did have an opening for warranty work the next week.
Midtown always has more in stock than Langly.
I just don't bother with Langly. Rather drive to Penticton and make a holiday out of it.


Had the same issue with a car that was purchased in the US and the warranty was transferable to all of North America at the time regardless of where you lived at the time of purchase. Local dealer would not service it - warranty or no warranty issues. Had to have the car manufacture contact the dealer and set them straight before the dealer would even put it into the service bay - even then they were not happy about it. Due to their grumpy approach to servicing it I ended up having it fully serviced & warrant work done by different dealer here without any problems. They were happy to get the new biz.

The silly part of the story is I had previously purchased several cars from the first dealer who refused to service the one purchased in the US and all had been serviced by them. When I sold the prior car privately I thought I could just go down down to the dealer and purchase a new one - not so - they had no new stock and where having issues getting them in, could not tell me when they could get me one - suggested it could be a few months. I needed a car ASP. I told them I had seen new ones all over the lots in Seattle the week before (which is why I had decided I wanted the new vehicle) and asked if they could import one in for me from there, they declined.

It was the same with the Airstream deal in Langley - they did not have the approx. size of trailer I was wanting, either to show me or sell me and showed no interesting in helping to find me one. The good news is having purchased a used one I will not have any warranty issues with them.

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