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You & Your Car

Two no-goes for importing a car to Canada Add to ...

I have only recently had a chance to read your article on the subject of importing a car to Canada. My neighbour knew I would be interested and saved the article for me. I have two questions: (a) One aspect of the procedure requires that modifications be made to ensure the Canadian regulations are met and these modifications may have to be made at an approved dealer. I have talked to the American Ford dealer in my area, and he says he can simply have the car delivered from Ford to his dealership with the Canadian package as though it were being shipped to Canada. Would this eliminate much of the frustration of importation?

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(b) Alternatively, as we spend 182 days a year most years in the United States, what would happen if I bought a car south of the border, licensed it and insured it there and simply drove it back and forth to Canada? The area we go to is such that we are there generally speaking for three months in the spring and three months in the fall, so the maximum time spent in Canada with the car would be 3-1/2 months at a time.

I can't see that my driving around in a car licensed in the U.S. for a few months in Canada would be any different than an American who owns property in cottage country and stays up here with his car for the summer. – David

When it comes to licensing and insuring a car in the United States, I’m not a lawyer, but the way I read the regulations, you can’t do it.

With regard to Federal Regulations, Section 7(1)(b) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, says, in part “a motor vehicle may be admitted temporarily into Canada without complying with the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations if it is to be used exclusively by a person entering Canada as a visitor or a person passing through Canada to another country. Persons entering under a work permit or student visa will be considered as visitors for the application of this section of the Act. ... the vehicle cannot remain in Canada for a period longer than the time constraints listed on the work permit, student visa or any other Customs documents. Once these time limits are exceeded, the vehicle no longer qualifies for temporary entry under section 7(1)(b) of the Act and must be exported.”

I’m not sure where you are writing from, but licensing and registration are provincial and state matters.

You should check with your provincial and the state motor vehicle departments where you reside. You mention cottage country so I assume you’re talking about Ontario where the regulations say you can get a “Special Permit” consisting of a decal to be displayed in the windshield, valid for 10 days. That same regulation allows a limit of two permits per motor vehicle within a 365-day period.

Insurance is also an issue – does your insurance coverage meet the requirements in both countries? As for an American dealer ordering a car with the “Canadian package,” that is wrong. A U.S. dealer cannot order a vehicle with Canadian specs. That particular Ford dealer can order one to U.S. specs and have it delivered to a Canadian dealer where the customer would have to get the necessary modification made before trying to register it.

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