View Full Version : Canadian to US Transfer Question

08-30-2010, 04:33 AM
I know this might be trivial to some, but is it legally possible to purchase a car originally from Canada and register in the U.S.?

08-30-2010, 05:29 AM
I'm not sure. If it was, I'd be buying me a st205 :P

08-30-2010, 07:52 AM
Yes you can. As long as the car meets all us import laws. If I remember member Christine_lives! Currently owns a Canadian 5th gen and lives in Cali.

08-30-2010, 10:16 AM
However, there's a difference in regulation between cars built for the Canadian market -- which are largely built to the same requirements as the federal American market -- and cars built for overseas markets but later imported into Canada.

I'd be willing to bet you can find a fair amount of information on your state government's website -- though it might take some digging.

08-30-2010, 06:12 PM
If you are looking at a RHD car it must be 25 yrs or older and on the RIV list.

If you are looking at a LHD car I believe it only has to be on the RIV list with no restriction on year. (I could be wrong, I'm a rightie and in Canada so for us its 15 years)

(I think US still calls it a RIV list)

09-01-2010, 07:21 AM
Thanks Guys

10-17-2010, 04:53 AM
^Canadian cars have higher rated crash bumpers and therefore usually meet or exceed US regulations, but not the other way around. For example, we couldn't get the Mitsubishi EVO 7 or EVO 8 because it didn't have 5mph bumpers.

10-17-2010, 06:47 PM
Formerly known as Christine_lives!


There is a ton of paperwork you need to fill out and have ready for the border crossing. The paperwork is also dependent on Territory and State. I imported from Ontario, which is a pretty easy Territory to import from. I got a temporary transport permit for $8 at their DMV and a $30 buyers package needed for importation. I had to tow the car across the border in the Commercial Lane and they stamped all my papers. I used a UHaul trailer which I'm sure violates their national tow insurance, so I used my State Farm policy with their permission. I even used State Farm in Canada to fax all my insurance info from my local agent in Ohio so the car would be covered on a US Policy.

Ohio has a really easy system for registering vehicles. The border inspection requires an airbag, Ohio registration does not. I imagine California is a royal pain in the ass for foreign car registration, especially because it has a large foreign shipping port. I paid a Toyota Dealership $1.50 to inspect the car then paid my taxes and got a title in Ohio. Biggest expense was a trailer and gas.

As long as you can show the border the car is the same model as a US car, has an airbag and bumpers at the proper height, does not have leins or title issues and is LHD, you can import all on your own.

To be honest, I did not do the import to own something rare or unique because that is difficult to do within the 25 year import block. I did it because cars in Ontario must be rust proofed to be licensed and that process is regulated and costly. Owners typically have to sell their vehicles adjusted for these things. An oil drip, old rust protection removal and new rust protection added is about $2000 by a licensed shop. So I took the GTS for the adjust $900 in Canada over the $3500 similar sellers had in the States. It just made the most economic sense at the time to own a GTS with all options.

I saw some great AllTracs in Toronto that were selling for under $1500. They were too much trouble because Canadians are suspicious of American buyers. I needed specific photos to do the paperwork before I left and they thought I was stealing their car's likeness or something. Apparently sharing a VIN is unheard of in Toronto.

Where and what were you thinking of importing?