Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Importing a car to Canada (Ontario) *groan*

This post is fueled by frustration.  On-the-phone-for-hours-being-kicked-between-3-government-agencies frustration.  I now know that I needed to import my car into Canada; however, the people at the border crossing didn't put the proper paperwork in order, so now here I am scrambling around to get it all done.

Taking a vehicle into Ontario for >30 days (or is it 60?  It's one of the two.) requires that you actually import this vehicle into Canada and get it set up with Ontario plates.  To get Ontario plates, you need Ontario insurance, an Ontario license, and basically all of the stuff listed here.  The notable part here is Vehicle Form 1, which you get upon entering Canada, except in my case, where they told me I didn't need it when I asked.  Whoops.  Wrong-o, border agents.  So I've got to drive out to Pearson airport and get that set up, which is a pain, because I live on the other side of the city from Pearson.

My view of Toronto when I first drove in here last September.... didn't know it'd be so hard to bring Princess here for real!

The rest of the stuff on that checklist is simple and obvious, like a safety inspection, emissions test, etc.  Vehicle Form 1, however is a beast, and you can read all about it here.  Luckily, because I am on a temporary resident work permit, and I will be returning to the U.S., the RIV registration fee is waived, so there's $195 back for me.  Nevertheless, there are taxes on EVERYTHING, even air conditioning, as can be seen here and here.  There are even taxes on the taxes!  That sample calculation scares me; a $50k vehicle from the U.S. would cost almost $4k to import to Canada if it was fuel inefficient.  Princess thankfully isn't worth nearly that much, only a bit more than $4k herself, I'd say.  Because she's 12 years old, she'll be duty-free (yay!), and she's relatively fuel efficient.  Her city mileage is 10.2 litres/100 km, and her highway is 7.4 litres/100 km.  Note there is a HEFTY tax starting at 13 litres/100 km and higher.  Canada's trying to be green, yo.

That's my (somewhat buried in the Pennsylvania snow) girl!

All in all, with the AC excise tax, the GST (which I can perhaps get waived b/c I won't be leaving Princess in Canada), the safety/emissions inspections, the registration fee, and the cost to get a plate-holder on my front bumper (Ontario requires a front plate, and neither Georgia nor Pennsylvania did), I'm guessing it's going to be around $500 just to get Princess into the country legally.  Insurance is a whole 'nother can of worms.  Therefore, this will have to wait until I get paid this month.  I never thought I'd say this, but thank goodness for my postdoc's salary.

13 comments:

  1. Crazy papers. When I got to my neck of the woods two hrs south (I crossed thru Sarnia), they told me that if I was going to leave the country I didn't need to pay taxes or import the vehicle, just switch plates, get my licence and insurance from ON, do the emissions test, which is like 120$ and should be around that cause I think it's regulated by the province and you can do it at any service station, Jiffy Lube, Ford Motor Care, I actually did it at a GM place and I own a Toyota too, yay!) and change my title to an ON title. And yes, it can be extremely, EXTREMELY frustrating to try and get the right people on the phone, if they even pick up, which they almost never do ... gaahhh, I hate calling to 800 service #'s here, they never, ever pick up). I asked at the border and they did give me a form, and when I first showed up at the DMV with all my papers and old tag and certifications of everything, they didn't want to do it because they thought I was missing something (which I didn't because I kept all my papers in one folder as I was given them at the border and told them so) ... luckily one of the officers at the border stamped and signed my form, a longish one that I think my have a yellow sheet; eventually they stamped and did their thing and that was that, but it took a bit of arm twisting because the lady was quick to judge and thought I was missing something, but she didn't give me a hard time for not importing the car, au contraire ... I was told that if I had a closed contract, meaning, I'd be living here temporarily, I didn't need to pay taxes or import the vehicle). The good thing is that the emissions test (I think, or is it the 120-point inspection?) lasts for 2 years, thus you only need to pay for the renewal stickers and forms, which is like 70-80$. I did it in October or November, even though I moved in July, but my tags do expire on my b-day month (July). It's crazy to get all the right papers and to convince them that the border peeps gave you the proper stuff, but I don't think I had to do some of the things you mention, essentially because I assured them I'd leave after my contract was over. Best of luck, and yes, it can be a pain, especially if the peeps at the border made a mistake and didn't give you the proper form. But I'm not sure you need to import the car ... let me know how it works out.

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  2. As I've said before, welcome to paying taxes in Canada! If it's not painfully obvious yet, all of these social services (whether you use them or not) are very expensive. I find myself discussing this sometimes with my American friends: If you want socialized medicine, better public transport, comprehensive welfare, etc. you're going to pay through the nose for it, unfortunately. For Europeans coming to Canada, it's typically no big deal (it's pretty much the same or similar there) but Americans are almost always shocked at the differences in taxation/fees.

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  3. Hi - I'm from the US, on a work permit in canada, and finally thinking about going through the hassle of importing my car -- your blog has been very helpful! Can you tell me where the CBSA office is located in Pearson? I didn't get the form either when I crossed the border (the guy waved me through with my car full of goods...)

    Thanks!

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    1. Sorry for taking a bit to reply! The CBSA office isn't actually IN Pearson, at least as we travelers think of Pearson (terminal 1 and terminal 3). In fact, it's actually on Brittania Road, at 2720 Britannia Road east. You will look like you're going to the end of the world, because you'll be on the industrial side of Pearson. Keep pressing on, though. It'll be on your right side. I was about to stop and ask for help when it appeared. It was way past where my GPS said it was!

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  4. You actually do not need to have running lights for a temporary import. I am also an American postdoc in Canada and successfully imported 2 cars with no modifications (both without running lights). In fact, most taxes and safety inspection pieces that are subject to a full import do not apply to a temporary import.

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    1. Where did you get your safety inspection? Every place I call tells me I need daytime running lights, but I know I don't because I'm importing a car from the US temporarily and am exempt from RIV.

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  5. Hi,
    Did you exchange your drivers license also when you move back to US. Did you take the written exam and test again to get the license? We moved to Ontario from US and we have now Ontario driver's license. We exchanged it with our US license. Now that we will be moving back what is the process for license?


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  9. Hi. I don't know if you are still monitoring this blog post for comments or not but I'm about to go through this process. I've actually been in Canada for a while now and just got my work permit so, when crossing the first time I didn't get the form 1. A couple of questions. For temporary importing into Canada, I don't need the U.S. export stamp correct? Also, what forms and information will I need to bring to my local CBSA office to take care of getting the form 1?

    Thank you!

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