Vehicle requirements

Requirements to export a vehicle according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection posts guidelines for exporting a vehicle on their website. However, the specific procedures for vehicle exports are different for each port. The basics, consistent across all CBP ports, include:

  • file in the Automated Export System to get an internal transaction number (ITN)
  • vehicle identification number (VIN) and/or vehicle title
  • send the above to the port 72 hours prior to export

Below are the the unique requirements of some the most common U.S. ports for vehicles bound for Canada. Ports not listed here may be contacted directly to obtain their specific requirements.

Blaine, Washington

  • Phone: 360-332-2632
  • Email: blaine-ofoexport@cbp.dhs.gov
  • Hours: 0800 – 1530 Monday – Friday, excluding holidays

Hand deliver or email to Blaine CBP three business days prior to export:

  1. Vehicle export worksheet. Note that there is a field for the ITN in this form, the number obtained upon filing in AES.
  2. Title/certificate of ownership. Includes salvage title, rebuilt title or flood title. (Because Washington state does not issue a salvage title the required document to export a salvaged vehicle out of Washington is a public disclosure form. This can be obtained from the Department of Licensing in Olympia.)
  3. Bill of sale or invoice. This can be a hand written document between buyer and seller and it should indicate the VIN or serial number. If the vehicle was a gift, a gift letter can be substituted for bill of sale. If you are the titled owner of the vehicle, a bill of sale is not required.

After emailing the export application, send another follow-up email requesting the receipt of the export application. In this second email, include the the vehicle’s year, make, model, vehicle identification number (VIN) and U.S. state the vehicle is titled in. Or if unable to email, call (360) 332-2632 and leave a message with the year, make, model and state of title.

After the three-business day requirement has been met and the vehicle has been cleared for export, bring the vehicle and all of the original documents — vehicle export worksheet, title/certificate of origin, bill of sale — previously submitted to the office during normal business hours. Note that the vehicle must remain in the United States for the 72 hours prior to export.

Buffalo, New York

  • Phone: 716-843-8359
  • Email: buffalovinnyoffice@dhs.gov
  • Hours: 0800 – 1600 Monday – Friday, excluding holidays

The Lewiston Bridge, part of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls customs port is the only place to export a vehicle in Western New York.

To export a vehicle to Canada via this port, file in the Automated Export System to get an ITN. Then email the Buffalo office (buffalovinnyoffice@dhs.gov) with the ITN and the vehicle identification number (VIN) in the body of the email. Do not add attachments to the email. This email must be sent 72 hours in advance of reaching the border. Afterward, a confirmation email is sent by the Buffalo CBP office.

On the day of export bring:

  1. The vehicle to be exported
  2. ITN number
  3. Original title. Vehicles that have no title — snowmobiles, ATVs, backhoes, forklifts — must present registration and/or original bill of sale, as well as an invoice with an original signature from the seller. Ownership requirements are dependent upon the state of origin and vary from state to state.
  4. Valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) identification, such as a passport
  5. Lien holder documents, if applicable. This is required where title evidences third-party ownership/claims. If the vehicle is leased or a recorded lien exists in the U.S., the provisional owner must provide a separate document from the third-party-in-interest which specifically states that the vehicle may be permanently exported. This writing must be on the third-party’s letterhead paper and contain a complete description of the vehicle to include the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the name of the owner or lien holder of the leased vehicle, and the telephone numbers at which that owner or lien holder may be contacted. The writing must bear an original signature of the third-party and the date it was signed.
  6. Printed email confirmation, including the exporter’s original message emailed to CBP.

Detroit, Michigan

  • Phone: 313-226-3139
  • Email: detroitvehicleexport@cbp.dhs.gov
  • Hours: 0800 – 1600 Monday – Friday, excluding holidays

The exporter is to email the vehicle description — make, model, year and any lien information — the VIN and the ITN to detroitvehicleexport@cbp.dhs.gov. Additional acceptable documents to email include the title, bill of sale or manufacturer’s statement of origin. Place the VIN/serial number in the subject line of your email. Once the email is received, an auto-reply message will be sent with a letter attached stating when the 72-hour waiting period will be satisfied along with other information.

Acceptable email correspondence:

  1. Typed VIN, registration number or ID number
  2. Scanned pdf of the title, registration or bill of sale
  3. Scanned jpeg of the title, registration or bill of sale

Zip files are not accepted.

Once the waiting period is satisfied, the exporter is to arrive at the port of export with the original documentation and the email receipt from CBP. Original documentation to present:

  1. Original title
  2. Valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) identification, such as a passport
  3. Lien release if there is a lien on the vehicle
  4. Printed email confirmation from CBP along with the exporter’s original message
  5. Power of attorney or contract if third-party driver used

Montana and Idaho, all ports

  • Phone: 406-432-5522
  • Email: whitlashexport@dhs.gov
  • Hours: 0900 – 1700 daily

The documentation for all personal vehicle exports via Idaho or Montana ports is processed centrally by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office in Whitlash, Montana. 72 hours before crossing any of the borders in Idaho or Montana, exporters must email the following documents to the Whitlash office:

  1. Vehicle export worksheet
  2. A copy (front and back) of the vehicle title, manufacturer’s statement of origin (MSO) or certified copy of the same from the Department of Motor Vehicles. If exporting a salvage vehicle, supply a copy of the salvage title. If the title is someone else’s name, then on the title the seller must sign as the seller with the exporter’s name as the buyer. Partial submissions are not allowed. For vehicles not requiring a title, complete the no title addendum.
  3. ITN number
  4. Name and phone number
  5. A copy of the bill of sale, if applicable
  6. Loans/liens. By signing off their interest on the original title, the lien holder indicates that the loan has been satisfied. If the lien has not been removed, but the lien holder does not object to export, then obtain from the lien holder a letter of permission with their company letterhead to allow the vehicle to be exported from the United States. This letter of permission must bear an original signature of the lien holder and the date when it was signed. Additionally, a certified screen print of the title information from the DMV (the title information, NOT the registration information) must be obtained, and must be signed by a DMV official. Emailed copies of the Letter of Permission and the Certified Screen Print are acceptable to initiate clearance checks.

Don’t submit your recall clearance letter to U.S. customs as it is not required for exports from the United States.

Assuming your documentation above is accurate and complete in the email, a CBP official will begin the export checks to be completed within 72 hours of receipt. A CBP official will contact you if there are any problems with the submission.

On the day of export, the owner or agent of the vehicle must supply the original documentation above in person at the port of border crossing.

Final note on exporting vehicles from the United States

Again, all ports have different requirements. Some do not allow you to send documents by email and require fax. Some require the original documents, not copies, to be mailed to the port 72 hours before arrival. To know for sure, get in touch directly with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection port.

Note: Vehicles for export may not be brought to Canada or be in Canada prior to being formally exported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Failure to comply with the requirements set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (19 CFR 192.2) may result in a penalty action.

Read more about exporting vehicles, such as specifics on foreign-titled vehicles and untitled vehicles, at the United States at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

Requirements to import a vehicle from the United States into Canada according to the Canada Border Services Agency

Steps in the import process

1. Report to a Canada Border Services Agency office. A list of offices can be found here. This part can be done by a broker.

2. Ensure that the vehicle is listed as admissible on the Transport Canada Vehicle Import Compatibility (VIC) list for vehicles purchased in the United States. A good starting point for admissibility and other required steps is here at Canada’s Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV).  The RIV may be contacted at 1-800-575-0465 or at 1-800-691-5911 in Quebec.

3. Ensure that commercial vehicle importations required to be registered in the RIV program are processed at a CBSA office designated for this purpose.

4. Complete boxes 1 to 15 of form 13-0132, Vehicle Import Form – Form 1. Cross out box 16. Sign and date the declaration in box 17. (A broker may do this for you.) Or fill out this form online here at the Registrar of Imported Vehicles website.

5. Titles: Title documents are mandatory. Verify the original Certificate of Title, Salvage Title, or the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin for new U.S. compliant vehicles. The title document must be an original. If a title document is not submitted, refuse entry. This applies for both casual and commercial importations.

6. In the case of a leased or financed vehicle, if the financial institution does not provide the client with the original Certificate of Title or a certified copy of the Certificate of Title, then a copy of the Certificate of Title with an original letter/statement from the financial institution authorizing that specific vehicle to be exported is acceptable. The statement should identify the vehicle and include the vehicle information number (VIN) of the vehicle.

7. Information: Verify whether the vehicle, importer, and vendor information matches the information on the supporting documentation (title, United States proof of export (if provided), licensing document, bill of sale, invoice, etc.).

8. Examine the vehicle for the appropriate Statement of Compliance (SOC) label—the metallic stamp at the edge of the driver’s side door—and ensure that the 17-character VIN matches the VIN provided on the form and the supporting documentation on all vehicles less than 15 years old, with the exception of vehicles with a clear title that are three model years old or less and having a VIN starting with the number 1, 2, 4 or 5 with proof of purchase from the United States. For these vehicles the border services officers will make best efforts to ensure that the vehicle description and the “Vehicle Identification Number” (VIN) are accurately represented on the Vehicle Import Form – Form 1. Note: ATVs, limited speed motorcycles or restricted-use motorcycles can have a 14 to 17-character VIN.

9. Pay the Registrar of Imported Vehicles fee:
(a) Credit card payments can be processed on-line by the border services officer, by the importer after importation at www.riv.ca, or by calling the RIV at 1-800-575-0465 or 1-800-691-5911 (Quebec only) to obtain credit card authorization, and record authorization number in box 17; or
(b) If payment will be made by check or in another form, provide a RIV payment envelope to the importer, ensure that the payment envelope option is chosen in box 17, and advise importer that the payment should be made payable to the RIV, to quote the Vehicle Import Form – Form 1 control number (top right hand corner), and mail inland.

10. Complete the K22 section:
(a) choose the appropriate disposal restriction option;
(b) write N/A for the options not being used;
(c) record the CBSA transaction number; and
(d) stamp the K22 section on all copies (if importer will pay RIV fee directly online after importation, as the processing agent ID is required)

Important Note: Do not stamp box 16 or 17.

11. Fax the Vehicle Import Form – Form 1 and a copy of the Title to the Registrar of Imported Vehicles at 1-888-346-8235, immediately after importation if possible or within 24 hours of registration.

12. Distribute copies of the form as follows:
(a) keep the original and copies (white and gold), or make sure the broker gives these to you;
(b) retain the CBSA copy (canary); and
(c) mail the Registrar of Imported Vehicles copy (pink) to the RIV in a RIV payment envelope within 24 hours of registration.

Submit any Recall Clearance letters to the RIV as soon as possible once in Canada , and to contact them (telephone number 1-888-848-8240, fax number 1-888-642-9899, Web site www.riv.ca) in order to obtain the RIV vehicle inspection form.

13. Process and release vehicle in accordance with regular CBSA processing.

14. If payment is to be forwarded by mail in a RIV payment envelope, mail payment. If payment is to be processed on-line after importation, process payment on-line.

15. Complete modifications required to the vehicle to comply with Canadian safety standards and have vehicle inspected by a RIV inspection station within 45 days. Typical modifications:

  • recall clearance letter
  • the vehicle must bear a manufacturer’s valid U.S. Statement of Compliance (SOC) label at the time of import/inspection.
  • valid alpha-numeric 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • metric speedometer
  • odometer labels
  • daytime running lights
  • child restraint tether anchorage hardware kit
  • child restraint tether anchorage point locations (see Transport Canada’s List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States)
  • French supplementary restraint system label for airbags that require periodic maintenance
  • air bag equipped vehicles are required to have functioning air bags at the time of inspection.
  • If the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle is less than 10,000 lbs., and the manufacture date is after September 1, 2007, it must be equipped with an electronic immobilizer system that meets Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) 114.

More on importing a vehicle into Canada, and Transport Canada’s Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV)

Not all vehicles that are manufactured for sale in the United States can be imported into Canada. As a general rule, if the vehicle you plan to import was manufactured for sale in the United States and is less than 15 years old, or is a bus manufactured on or after January 1, 1971, you need to find out if it qualifies for importation under Transport Canada’s Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) program. The RIV program ensures that qualifying vehicles imported into Canada are modified, inspected and certified to meet Canadian safety standards.

If your vehicle qualifies for importation, you must register it in the RIV program when you report to the CBSA office on arrival in Canada. The RIV program registration fee is CAD 195 plus tax.

RIV program exemptions

You can import a vehicle from the United States without registering it in the RIV program if the following applies:

  • The vehicle is fifteen years old or older (excludes buses). You determine the age of a vehicle by the month and year it was manufactured. Do not use the model year. You may find the age on the manufacturer’s compliance label located in the doorframe area of the vehicle. If no compliance label is attached, you should contact the manufacturer to find out the exact date that the vehicle was manufactured and obtain a letter from the manufacturer as proof of age of the vehicle.
  • The vehicle is a bus manufactured before January 1, 1971.
  • The vehicle was originally manufactured and certified to meet Canadian safety standards. These vehicles are imported by importers authorized by Transport Canada or by former residents of Canada who are bringing back the same vehicle they exported.
  • The vehicle is entering Canada temporarily for a specific purpose. The allowable types of temporary imports are:
    • vehicles imported by visitors for a period not exceeding 12 months, temporary residents such as students studying at an institution of learning for the duration of their studies in Canada, or individuals with valid work permits/ authorizations for employment for a period not exceeding 36 months;
    • vehicles imported by diplomats, if authorization in writing has been granted from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, for the duration of the person’s posting in Canada;
    • vehicles imported by visiting forces personnel for the duration of their assignment in Canada;
    • vehicles imported by United States preclearance personnel and their dependents for the duration of the United States officer’s posting in Canada;
    • vehicles imported for exhibition, demonstration, evaluation, testing or other special purposes. The importer must submit written authorization from Transport Canada, in the form of a Transport Canada endorsed Schedule VII, for temporary importations of this nature;
    • vehicles travelling in-transit through Canada;  and
    • vehicles designed primarily for the performance of work in the construction of works of civil engineering and in maintenance and that are not constructed on a truck chassis or truck-type chassis.

Vehicles imported temporarily under one of these conditions cannot be sold or otherwise disposed of while in Canada, and it cannot remain in Canada longer than the time constraints listed on the person’s work permit, student visa, or other customs or immigration document. Once these time limits have been exceeded, the vehicle no longer qualifies for temporary entry and must be exported. Should the temporary status of the person entering the vehicle change while they are in Canada, the vehicle will have to be either permanently imported, if it qualifies, or exported.

Canadian import duties and taxes

If your vehicle is eligible for importation into Canada according to both CBSA and Transport Canada requirements, you will have to pay import assessments that may include duty, excise tax and the goods and services tax (GST). Provincial or territorial sales tax may apply when you license your vehicle.

If you import a vehicle into Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario or British Columbia you must pay the GST on your importation, as well as the provincial part of the harmonized sales tax (HST) when you license your vehicle.

Generally, you do not have to pay duty on a vehicle imported for personal use that was manufactured in the United States, or Canada, or vehicles from Mexico that are of a model year ten years of age or older (if admissible under Transport Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Act).

If your vehicle has air conditioning, you will have to pay an excise tax of CAD 100. You will have to pay additional excise taxes (Green Levy) only if your vehicle has a weighted average fuel consumption rating of 13 or more litres per 100 kilometres and is put into service after March 19, 2007. The Green Levy will apply to automobiles (including station wagons, vans, and sports utility vehicles) designed primarily for the use as passenger vehicles, but not including pickup trucks, vans equipped to accommodate 10 or more passengers, ambulances, and hearses.

More info:

Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV)
405 The West Mall
Toronto ON M9C 5K7
1-888-848-8240
www.riv.ca