RIV exemptions

Vehicles are exempt from the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) registration if they are imported under one of the following conditions:

  1. Vehicles older than 15 years
  2. The vehicles (excluding buses) are 15 years old or more based on the date of manufacture, or are buses (including school buses) manufactured before January 1, 1971. The importer must be able to prove the age of the vehicle.

  3. Temporary Importation
  4. The vehicles are entering temporarily with:

    • visitors, for a period of 12 months or less; temporary residents such as students studying at an institution for their studies in Canada; or individuals with valid work permits for a period of 36 months or less;
    • diplomats, if authorization has been granted in writing from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, for the duration of the posting in Canada;
    • visiting forces personnel, for the duration of their assignment in Canada; and
    • U.S. pre-clearance personnel and their dependents for the duration of the U.S. officer’s posting in Canada.
    • Note: A vehicle imported temporarily under one of these conditions cannot be sold or otherwise disposed of while in Canada, and cannot remain in Canada longer than the time limit listed on the person’s work permit, student visa, or other Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) or immigration documents. Once the time limit has passed, the vehicle no longer qualifies for temporary entry and must be exported. If the temporary status of the person importing the vehicle changes while in Canada, the vehicle must be permanently imported, if it qualifies, or exported.

    The vehicles are entering temporarily for exhibition, demonstration, evaluation, testing, or other special purposes. Transport Canada defines “exhibition”, “demonstration”, “evaluation”, “testing” and “special purposes” as set out below:

    • “Exhibition” applies to events where vehicles of various manufacturers or producers are displayed (e.g., exhibits for auto shows);
    • “Demonstration” applies to shows of vehicle models or types to prospective clients, or for use in promotional-type events (e.g., vehicle prototypes);
    • “Evaluation or testing” applies to vehicles imported by companies to determine whether a vehicle is operating or performing properly, or effectively in particular environments or circumstances (e.g., cold-weather testing); and
    • “Special purposes” applies to vehicles imported for further manufacturing prior to export or for work that requires a specially designed vehicle for entertainment industry production, civil engineering projects or similar works or operations.

    The vehicles are entering temporarily for repair or alterations that may or may not be done under a warranty arrangement.

    The vehicles are entering temporarily under the Convention Services Program.

    The vehicles are travelling in-transit through Canada and

    • are not destined for consumption in Canada;
    • are only in Canada for the purpose of going to another country; and
    • will not be modified or altered while in Canada.
  5. The vehicles is a work vehicle
    • Only those vehicles that meet the definition of a work vehicle can be imported without complying with the CMVSS.
    • Agricultural units and equipment (e.g., farm tractors and manure spreaders) are not considered vehicles for Transport Canada purposes and are not subject to a Transport Canada import requirement.

    A work vehicle is defined as one used primarily for civil engineering construction and maintenance, that is not built on a truck or truck-type chassis. This does not include a tractor or any vehicle designed to be drawn behind another vehicle.

  6. Pre-Clearance
  7. The purpose of Transport Canada's Pre-clearance Program is to facilitate importing shipments through Customs with minimal inspection and scrutiny. Pre-clearance was originally set up for the major automobile companies. It is an agreement between a foreign manufacturer, a Canadian commercial importer and Transport Canada. Pre-clearance is for manufacturers with engineering capabilities and for professional importers that are a low risk for compliance issues. These are liability-conscious companies that, in the opinion of Transport Canada, can take corrective measures if a safety defect is found in the vehicles. They have the obvious ability to issue a “notice of defect” (recall) to customers after vehicles are imported.

    Transport Canada’s Pre-clearance List of Recognized Vehicle Importers is made available to manufacturers and importers on the list, Canadian customs brokers, RIV and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

    Information about applying to Transport Canada’s pre-clearance program.

For more information, visit:

Transport Canada

Canada Border Services Agency


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