All vehicles (except buses) that are 15 years old or more from the date of manufacture, are exempt from the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) program. You must be able to prove the age of the vehicle to the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA). Buses (including school buses) manufactured before January 1, 1971 are also exempt from the RIV program. More information about RIV exemptions.
For a vehicle that is leased or financed, contact the financing/leasing company to determine if the vehicle can be exported to Canada. You will need to provide the Certificate of Title (original or a copy) for the vehicle and an original letter from the financing/leasing company that identifies the vehicle and VIN, and authorizes the import into Canada. Please contact the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at 1-800-461-9999 (within Canada) or 204 983-3500 (outside of Canada) for more information about importing U.S. leased or financed vehicles into Canada.
Some manufacturers allow the transfer of U.S. warranties to Canada. Be aware that an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) may allow the transfer of a U.S. warranty to Canada but some elements of the warranty, such as extended coverage, maintenance plans, roadside assistance, etc., may not be transferable.
Yes. There are numerous companies that will handle some or all of the steps involved in importing a vehicle from the United States – from sourcing a vehicle, to handling the necessary paperwork, to transporting the vehicle to your front door.
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. 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, including the the 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 SOC label with instructions on where to place it on the vehicle.
A temporary permit or plates allow a vehicle to be driven into Canada for import, before it has passed a provincial or territorial safety certification program or been licensed permanently.
Please note: Each provincial/territorial licensing body manages its own temporary permit/plate program. Temporary permits or plates may not be available in your jurisdiction.
Please contact your provincial/territorial licensing jurisdiction for information specific to your jurisdiction.
Information about fees and payment options.
Returning Canadian vehicles are exempt from the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) program when former residents of Canada bring the same vehicle that they exported to the United States, back into Canada. The following conditions apply:
(a) the vehicle was certified by the original manufacturer to comply with the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS);
(b) the individual can substantiate that the vehicle was purchased or registered by him/her in Canada prior to departure;
(c) the vehicle did not undergo substantial modifications or alterations while abroad; and
(d) the vehicle has not entered into commerce (sold, traded or leased to any other party).
Individuals will be required to show proof to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that they owned the vehicle while in Canada, when they import it back into Canada.
Many of the provinces and territories have environmental programs in place to deal with the safe disposal and recycling of used tires.
Check with the jurisdiction in which you intend to license your vehicle in order to find out more.
The Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) program only regulates vehicles originally manufactured for distribution in the U.S. market. Visit Transport Canada for more information about importing vehicles from other countries.
All admissible vehicles, including all types of trailers, must bear a 17 character alphanumeric valid VIN sequence, as required by Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) 115 – Vehicle Identification Number, including snowmobiles and restricted-use motorcycles (RUMs) manufactured after January 1, 2001.
All admissible vehicles, including all types of trailers, must bear a 17 character alphanumeric sequence, as required by Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) 115 – Vehicle Identification Number.
Although the VIN of your vehicle may match all official U.S. documents, and although the trailer manufacturer may have confirmed that the VIN on the vehicle itself is indeed the assigned VIN, this does not mean that the VIN issued complies with U.S. and Canadian federal requirements.
The VIN is composed of the following sections as prescribed by the regulations defined by
Prior to purchasing and permanently importing a trailer into Canada, we strongly recommend the potential importer to contact our office in order to ensure the validity of the vehicle identification number (VIN).
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) require notification of all self-propelled vehicles being permanently exported from the United States. You must provide CBP with your vehicle title documents, registration and sales receipts.
CBP regulations state that at land border points:
CBP recommends that you contact the border crossing directly to verify all required documentation and the hours of operation.
Select a state or province, then choose the border crossing through which you will be importing your vehicle, to view contact information for the U.S. Customs office.
Visit the CBP website for more information about vehicle exports or for U.S. Customs offices contact information.
The Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) does not provide specific information on duties or taxes (in addition to GST). However, importing a vehicle involves paying the same taxes as you would if you bought the vehicle in your province of residence – Goods and Services Tax (GST), Provincial Sales Tax (PST) or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), and other applicable taxes such as the excise tax on fuel inefficient vehicles and the air conditioning excise tax.
In addition to taxes, there may be an import duty levied on the vehicle if it was originally manufactured outside of North America (United States, Canada or Mexico). For more information, see Cost considerations or visit the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) web site.
If the importer of a leased or financed vehicle cannot obtain the original Certificate of Title or a certified copy of the Certificate of Title, he/she must present a copy of the Certificate of Title with an original statement/letter from the financing/leasing company authorizing that the vehicle be exported from the United States and permanently imported into Canada. The statement/letter should identify the vehicle and include the VIN number.
All Transport Canada requirements for documentation and the process at the border are contained in Customs D-19-12-1 memorandum.
As defined in the U.S. Customs regulations "Self-propelled vehicle" includes any automobile, truck, tractor, bus, motorcycle, motor home, self-propelled agricultural machinery, self-propelled construction equipment, self-propelled special use equipment, and any other self-propelled vehicle used or designed for running on land but not on rail.
The Automated Export System (AES) is a mandatory Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing requirement regulated by U.S. Census.
All exports of used self-propelled vehicles, regardless of value, will be required to file EEI through AES.
The export process begins when a vehicle is purchased in the U.S. and the owner wishes to export the vehicle. The exporter or an authorized agent transmits the vehicle export information electronically using AES.
AES validates the EEI data and generates a confirmation message in the form of an Internal Transaction Number (ITN).
Note: You must exit the U.S. on the date submitted on AES.
CBP recommends that you contact the U.S. customs office where you plan to cross
into Canada to verify the documentation required and their hours of operation
Non-U.S. residents, including Canadians, may:
U.S. Citizens, U.S. Residents or U.S. Companies (i.e. the U.S. vendor that the vehicle was purchased from) may choose to file themselves:
Each class of vehicle has a specific set of criteria which must be met in order to comply with Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS). Some vehicles manufactured for distribution in the U.S. market may already meet some of these criteria and will require less modification, while others may require more. Transport Canada’s List of Vehicle Admissible from the United States provides details on modification requirements for specific vehicle types, makes and models. If you have further questions, please contact the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV).
The Motor Vehicle Safety Act does not require that vehicle modifications to be performed by any specific individual or agency. However, in some cases, the manufacturer has advised Transport Canada that any modifications to the vehicle must be performed by a service centre authorized by the manufacturer. Manufacturer specific requirements are published in Transport Canada’s List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States.
Should you decide to have a third party perform the required modifications, RIV cannot be held liable for voided warranties, damage to the vehicle or compromised safety and drivability of the vehicle. We recommend that you contact the manufacturer to discuss appropriate parts or warranty issues.
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.
If you are uncertain as to whether your vehicle has an immobilizer, you can contact the manufacturer. If your vehicle does not have an electronic immobilizer system, you are required to have one installed in order to pass the federal inspection. For further information, you can contact: www.autowatchcanada.com or www.mastergard.com
If a vehicle fails the RIV inspection, deficiencies must be corrected and the vehicle will be re-inspected. Current fee is $56.50 per re-inspection.
Vehicles that are ultimately unable to pass the RIV inspection process must be exported back to the United States. If it is apparent that a vehicle will not be able to pass the RIV inspection process within 45 days (or 1 year for salvage vehicles) from the date of import, contact RIV immediately.
To obtain an owner's manual in both official languages, an importer can contact the vehicle manufacturer or an authorized dealer. Online resources may also be available.
Recall clearance documents verify that any defects identified by the manufacturer as a potential safety risk to the vehicle’s operator, occupants and public at large, have been corrected.
More information about recall clearance documents and how to obtain them.
Importers are required to provide recall documents to RIV prior to RIV issuing an inspection form. Importers are not required to show recall documents to the inspection centre.
Transport Canada and the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) do not have access to recall information for vehicles manufactured for distribution in the U.S. market. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the importer to ensure that there are no outstanding recalls on vehicles being imported into Canada.
Every class of vehicle that is on Transport Canada’s List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States must be registered in the RIV program unless a specific condition for exemption from the RIV program applies.
Yes, there are some exemptions to the RIV program.
Importers have 45 days from the date of import for their vehicle to pass the RIV inspection process. Once the RIV Import Form – Form 1 has been completed at the border, recall clearance documentation has been provided to RIV and full payment has been received, importers normally receive the RIV inspection form within 10 days by mail. If a valid e-mail address is provided, the RIV inspection form can be sent by e-mail the same day that it is processed rather than mailed.
Use Track Your Case to see if payment or vehicle documentation has been received and processed. You can also print your vehicle’s RIV inspection form once the appropriate conditions have been met.
Once a vehicle passes inspection, a Canadian Statement of Compliance (SOC) label will be sent by regular mail to the importer of record.
The Import Fee of $195 + applicable tax(s) covers the registration, inspection and certification of vehicles imported from the United States into Canada. The program verifies and ensures that imported vehicles provide a comparable level of safety to that of similar Canadian-specification vehicles.
Vehicles subject to the import fee of $195 + tax(s) and the RIV Inspection also includes but is not limited to: Trailers, Restricted-use Motorcycles, ATV’s, snowmobiles and low-speed vehicles.
The RIV program does not receive funds from the government. The Registrar is funded through user fees charged to Canadian importers of vehicles bought in the United States. The fee pays for a series of tasks and services such as pre-purchase compliance verification, importation documentation, tracking and final notification to provincial vehicle registration authorities needed to get the vehicle licensed in Canada.
The RIV also:
These tasks are not priced according to the category of the vehicle. Each category must be equally inspected to ensure that a vehicle is in compliance and that the vehicle was not modified out of compliance.
The provincial/territorial licensing authorities co-operate with CBSA by requiring proof that CBSA formalities have been complied with before issuing licenses for foreign vehicles imported into Canada. Persons required by the provincial /territorial licensing authority to license their foreign vehicle in Canada must present a properly completed Form 1, to the licensing authority.
The Vehicle Import Form – Form 1 is not a form of temporary registration. Please consult with the state in which you are purchasing the vehicle for details on purchasing an in-transit permit/temporary registration or contact your local licensing office for details on a temporary registration.
The Vehicle Import Form – Form 1 can be completed using our Online Portal or obtained upon declaration of the vehicle into Canada at the border. The Canadian Border Services Agent will be verifying or providing the Form 1 upon arrival at the port of entry.
Based on information supplied by vehicle manufacturers, Transport Canada maintains a List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States.
The Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) program only regulates vehicles originally manufactured for distribution in the U.S. market. Visit Transport Canada for information about importing a vehicle from other countries.
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. They were subsequently imported into the U.S. where they have been modified to comply with U.S. safety and emissions standards.
Grey market vehicles may 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 from the date of manufacture and buses (including school buses) manufactured on or after January 1, 1971, are inadmissible for entry into Canada.
Kit cars are treated as vehicles whether they are imported assembled or unassembled in a kit.
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.
The list of vehicles admissible from the United States is maintained by Transport Canada based on information provided from vehicle manufacturers. Any inquiry about the information should be directed to the manufacturer.
Manufacturers supply information about new makes and models as it becomes available, to Transport Canada who updates the list.
Manufacturers are responsible for certifying that their vehicles comply or can be modified to comply with CMVSS.
Currently, the import of pocket bikes can be divided into two categories:
Competition-style pocket bikes that are not equipped with speedometers, turn signals, headlights or other equipment that indicates they were originally designed for use other than competition.
These bikes must:
These bikes can be imported into Canada and do not have to be registered with the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV).
Recreation-style pocket bikes that are equipped with speedometers, turn signals, headlights or other equipment that indicates they were originally designed for use apart from competition.
These bikes must be imported as restricted-use motorcycles, be registered with RIV, and meet Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS). Records stating that the vehicle complies with CMVSS must be submitted to Transport Canada before import.
When a vehicle has been modified, other than general repair or routine maintenance, the vehicle no longer maintains its original factory issued certification. This certification is a requirement to qualify for importation into Canada.
NOTE: This also applies to Canadian owned vehicles that are modified in the United States and returning to Canada because the vehicle no longer maintains its original Canadian certification.
Importers considering the importation of a modified vehicle or Canadians planning to have modifications made to their vehicle outside of Canada must inform themselves about the need for compliance to Canadian standards which must be established by the final stage manufacturer (or modifier). Failure to establish compliance to Canadian standards will result in the vehicle being denied access into Canada.
Trailers, ATV’s, snowmobiles, dirt bikes and pocket bikes less than fifteen years of age are a prescribed class of vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. These vehicle types are regulated by the RIV program, require an RIV inspection and are subject to the RIV import fee of $195 + tax.
The importer’s intended use or registration guidelines set out by the individual province or territory do not determine whether a vehicle is excluded from the RIV inspection.
Trailers are a prescribed class of vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and require an RIV Inspection.
Registration requirements in the U.S. are not equivalent to registration requirements in each individual Canadian province or territory. All trailers less than fifteen years old, including: utility trailers, enclosed cargo trailers, low-chassis trailers, air braked trailers, travel trailers, fifth wheel trailers, horse/stock trailers, boat trailers, car dollies, portable air compressors, log splitters, wood chippers etc. are regulated by the RIV program.
All trailers less than fifteen years old, including: utility trailers, enclosed cargo trailers, low-chassis trailers, air braked trailers, travel trailers, fifth wheel trailers, horse/stock trailers, boat trailers, car dollies, portable air compressors, log splitters, wood chippers etc. are regulated by the RIV program, require an RIV inspection and are subject to the RIV import fee of $195 + tax.
Prior to purchasing and permanently importing your trailer into Canada, we strongly recommend the potential importer to contact our office in order to ensure the validity of the vehicle identification number (VIN). For any trailer to be compatible for import into Canada, it must first meet four basic requirements:
Note: Trailers with a GVWR of 4536kg or more, manufactured after September 1, 2007, must be listed as admissible under Section 11 of the Vehicle Import Compatibility List.
If any of these 4 basic requirements cannot be met, i.e., something is missing or illegible, the trailer will be considered incompatible with Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) and therefore inadmissible for import into Canada.
Payment of RIV fees can be made on-line, in person or by mail. For further detail, see Payment and Fees.
The Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) provides an on-line tool that allows importers to track the status of each case or vehicle that they are importing.
Use Track Your Case to see if payment or vehicle documentation has been received and processed. You can print your vehicle’s RIV inspection form once the conditions have been met.
Delinquent/suspended notices are sent directly to the importer of record when the RIV inspection is not completed within 45 days from the date of import. If you receive a notice but your vehicle has passed the RIV inspection process, contact RIV immediately.
The Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) requires the following for the timely release of the RIV Inspection Form:
1. Vehicle Import Form – Form 1 Form 1 may be faxed or e-mailed to 416-626-0366 / firstname.lastname@example.org
2.Acceptable recall clearance documentation Recall clearance may be faxed or e-mailed to 1-888-642-9899 / email@example.com
3.RIV fee payment
A brand is a permanent designation on a vehicle’s title indicating that the vehicle has previously sustained substantial damage through collision, natural disaster (flood, fire, hail, etc) or any other occurrence requiring repair.
In the United States, brands vary from state to state but generally align with equivalent Canadian brands (or vehicle status). Examples of Canadian brands include:
A vehicle that has never been written off or declared as a total loss.
A vehicle that has been written off or declared a total loss. It may be safely rebuilt and re-licensed provided it passes a structural integrity inspection administered through a provincial/territorial licensing body.
A vehicle that was previously titled as “salvage” but has now been repaired and has passed a structural integrity inspection. Subject to a successful provincial/territorial safety inspection, these vehicles qualify for licensing.
A vehicle that has sustained structural damage to the extent it cannot be rebuilt and safely put back on the road. Once designated as non-repairable, these vehicles can never be licensed in Canada, and can only be used for parts or scrap.
The brand record is associated with the vehicle identification number (VIN) and remains part of its history. A vehicle status may change from “clear” to “salvage” to “rebuilt”, but each status will be part of the vehicle’s permanent branding history
As of April 1, 2008, all vehicle entering Canada with a brand of salvage/flood are considered as non-repairable by all licensing jurisdictions in Canada.
This means that you can import a flood damaged vehicle into Canada but you cannot have the vehicle licensed in any jurisdiction in Canada.
Most Canadian jurisdictions have not allowed licensing of flood damaged vehicles since major hurricane events took place in the United States in early 2006. For more information, visit Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) and their Flood Damaged Vehicles news release.
A vehicle on Transport Canada's List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States may be voluntarily declared as a “parts-only” vehicle to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the border, at the time of import.
A vehicle that is not on Transport Canada's List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States may be imported as a parts-only vehicle only if it has a Salvage Certificate of Title.
Once a vehicle is declared for parts on a Form 3 or designated as a parts-only vehicle through a vehicle title history search, it is given a non-repairable status. That status cannot be reversed and the vehicle can never be licensed in Canada. The Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) makes all vehicle status and brands available to every licensing jurisdiction in Canada through the Interprovincial Records Exchange (IRE).
The RIV fee for parts-only vehicles is $70.00 + GST and QST for vehicles entering through a border crossing in Quebec or $70.00 + GST for vehicles entering through a border crossing in any other province.
Information about RIV fees and methods of payment.
Salvage vehicles are vehicles that have been damaged beyond economical repair due to collision, natural disaster, accident, trespass or other occurrence as determined by a licensing authority or a licensed insurance provider.
All U.S. brand information on imported vehicles is acquired by RIV as part of the registration process. Vehicles in this category will have U.S. titles indicating the salvage status or brand. This information is verified by RIV through U.S. databases, and the salvage brand will be made available to all the provincial and territorial licensing jurisdictions in Canada through the Interprovincial Records Exchange (IRE). A salvage status on a vehicle may severely limit your ability to get the vehicle licensed and insured in Canada. You should contact your jurisdictional licensing authority for more information.
Salvage or rebuilt salvage vehicles can be licensed in Canada provided the original damage was not flood related and the vehicle is admissible under Transport Canada’s List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States.
Salvage or rebuilt salvage vehicles can also be imported into Canada as parts-only vehicles through a Vehicle Imported for Parts Form - Form 3 regardless of the source of the damage. However, once a vehicle has entered Canada on Form 3, it can never be licensed in Canada.