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All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV)

Also known as ATVs or quads, All-Terrain Vehicles are classified as vehicles under Transport Canada’s importation guidelines and are subject to the same inspection regulations as other vehicles. ATVs are classified under Section 9 - Restricted use motorcycles, on Transport Canada’s List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

CBSA is the Canadian federal agency responsible for security and customs at Canadian border crossings and was created in 2003 through an amalgamation of Canada Customs with elements of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Importers bringing a vehicle into Canada must interact with CBSA at the border to verify vehicle admissibility, confirm ownership, assess duties and applicable taxes and initiate the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) registration process.

Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS)

CMVSS is the section of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations defining the safety standards all vehicles must meet in order to be licensed in Canada.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

CRA administers the tax laws of the government of Canada and is responsible for ensuring compliance for applicable taxes (GST, excise tax on fuel inefficient cars, air conditioning excise tax) on vehicles sold or imported into Canada.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

CFIA is mandated by the federal government to safeguard Canada’s food supply and requires that some used vehicles be thoroughly cleansed of any sand, soil and plant residue before being imported into Canada.

Daytime Running Lights (DRL)

Since 1989, Transport Canada has required that cars, trucks, multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) and buses manufactured for sale in Canada have daytime running lights. As the United States does not currently have similar standards, the installation of daytime running lights is one of the most common modifications required on imported vehicles.


This is a universal term for a form of trailer designed to facilitate the movement of other wheeled objects such as cars, trucks or other trailers. These trailers are essentially a frame and wheels that allows the other object to be attached and towed.


Duty is a payment assessed by CBSA when an imported vehicle crosses the border. Please refer to CBSA for detailed information on import duties and taxes.

Electronic Immobilizer System (EIS)

An electronic immobilizer system is a security device installed in a vehicle that prevents the starting of the vehicle without the presence of a special key or small electronic device. Transport Canada requires every passenger vehicle, multipurpose passenger vehicle (MPV), truck and three-wheeled vehicle manufactured after September 1, 2007 and with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) less than 4,536 kg (10,000 lbs), except an emergency vehicle or a walk-in van, to be equipped with an electronic immobilizer system.

Fifth wheel trailer

A fifth wheel trailer utilizes a form of coupling that involves attaching the trailer to its tow vehicle via a horseshoe-shaped horizontal hitch – usually located in the bed of a pick-up truck.

Grey market vehicles

Grey market vehicles are foreign-specification vehicles that are re-certified by a U.S. company. These are vehicles that were originally manufactured for a domestic market other than the United States and were subsequently imported into the United States where they have been modified to comply with U.S. safety and emissions standards.

Grey market vehicles may, but will not necessarily, have a label affixed by the U.S. company that altered the vehicle, indicating that the vehicle has been “imported”, “altered”, or “modified” to comply with U.S. standards. Grey market vehicles (excluding buses) less than 15 years old, based on date of manufacture, and buses (including school buses) manufactured on or after January 1, 1971 are inadmissible for entry into Canada.

Green levy (Excise Tax on Fuel Inefficient Vehicles)

The green levy or excise tax on fuel inefficient vehicles is an excise tax that applies to certain automobiles purchased in Canada or imported from the United States that have been put into service after March 19, 2007 and have a weighted average fuel consumption of 13 or more litres per 100 kilometres. This tax applies to cars, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and vans but is not applicable to pick-up trucks, vans equipped to accommodate 10 or more passengers, ambulances and hearses.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

GVWR is the maximum allowable total weight of a vehicle – including the vehicle itself, cargo, passengers, fuel and trailer tongue weight.

Informed Compliance

"informed compliance" is a period of time after new Customs regulations or requirements come into effect. During this period, Customs takes the time to educate importers, exporters and the trade community on the new requirements. During this time, no penalties are issued for failure to comply with the new requirements.

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC)

IBC is the national association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers.

Kit cars

Kit cars are treated as vehicles whether they are presented for import as a fully assembled vehicle, or unassembled.

Kit cars do not meet the import requirements for a U.S. Statement of Compliance (SOC) label, the 17-character vehicle identification number (VIN), or admissibility status. A kit car is not permitted entry unless it was assembled 15 years ago or more and the importer can submit proof of age, e.g., a registration document. The age of a kit car is determined by the date of assembly rather than the model year of the reproduction or the date of manufacture of a donor car. If in doubt, contact Transport Canada for a determination of the kit car’s admissibility.

Visit Transport Canada’s website for more information about importing kit cars or and frequently asked questions.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

The designation used to specify the “manufacturer of record” or the licensed manufacturer of a vehicle. Examples of vehicle OEM manufacturers are GM, Honda, Polaris, Winnebago, Jeep, Porsche, etc.

Recall clearance documentation

Recall clearance documentation usually in the form of a letter is provided by the manufacturer of a vehicle stating that there are no outstanding manufacturer’s recalls associated with the vehicle. This documentation must be provided to the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV), by the importer, before the RIV inspection form can be released. More information about recall Recall clearance.

Restricted Use Motorcycle (RUM)

Restricted use motorcycles are intended for recreational or competitive use only. These vehicles must have a sticker on them stating that they are not intended for use on public roads. Certain scooters, pocket bikes, mini-choppers and off-road motorcycles fall into this category.

RIV inspection form

The Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) inspection form is issued by RIV to the importer of record once the imported vehicle has entered Canada, appropriate recall documentation has been received by RIV and the RIV registration fee has been paid. This form identifies the modifications which must be made to the vehicle to bring it into compliance with Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS). It is also used by inspection staff to record inspection results and to notify RIV of the inspection status (pass/fail) of the vehicle.

Statement of Compliance (SOC)

The U.S. Statement of Compliance (SOC) label is usually found on the inside of the driver’s side door pillar and states that the vehicle complies with all applicable U.S. motor vehicle safety standards in effect on the date of manufacture.

Vehicles must have an official U.S. Statement of Compliance (SOC) label when they cross the border for import. If a vehicle does not have a U.S. SOC label, the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) will accept a letter from the manufacturer containing the same information as the original label, such as the vehicle identification number (VIN), make, model, date of manufacture, gross vehicle weight ratings and axle weight ratings.

Once a vehicle has passed the RIV inspection process, the importer will receive a Canadian Statement of Compliance (SOC) label with instructions on where to place it on the vehicle.

Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV)

SUV is a generic term applied to larger vehicles that combine the passenger characteristics of a van or station wagon with the drive train or chassis of a light truck.

Transport Canada

Transport Canada is the federal government department responsible for ensuring a safe, reliable and sustainable transportation infrastructure for all Canadians. Part of Transport Canada’s mandate is to ensure that all vehicles licensed in Canada meet specific safety criteria. The Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) works under the direction of Transport Canada in administering the national program of registration, inspection and certification to Canadian standards of vehicles originally manufactured for distribution in the U.S. market that are being permanently imported into Canada.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Formed in 2003, CBP is an agency of the Department of Homeland Security and is responsible for regulating security, trade and traffic across U.S. borders. Canadians importing a vehicle into Canada from the United States must notify CBP at least 72 hours prior to export.


Transport Canada defines a vehicle as any form of transportation capable of being driven or drawn on roads by any means other than muscle power. For importing purposes, Transport Canada’s definition encompasses everything from passenger cars to snowmobiles, ATVs, buses, trailers and more.

Vehicle Import Form – Form 1

The Vehicle Import Form – Form 1 is the form that initiates the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) registration process for applicable vehicles being permanently imported from the United States into Canada and is provided to the importer by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and completed at the border as the vehicle enters Canada.

Vehicle Imported for Parts Form – Form 3

A Vehicle Imported for Parts Form – Form 3 is used if the vehicle being imported into Canada is being designated as a parts-only vehicle. Vehicles that receive this designation can never be licensed in any Canadian jurisdiction.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

A VIN is a unique identifier assigned to individual vehicles at the time of manufacture. It is used as the prime vehicle identifier throughout the purchase, importation and licensing process. For most vehicles, the VIN is a 17 digit alpha-numeric string.

Vehicle Security Installation Bureau (VSIB)

VSIB is a non-profit, national regulatory body formed with the goal of identifying and implementing a set of professional standards for companies involved in the installation of automobile theft deterrent equipment.

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