How to Buy Your Next Vehicle from the US - and Save Thousands!
Generally, the more expensive the car you’re buying, the more you save. I personally wrote very little of this guide. I organized it for my purposes but decided to share it since the compilation work took quite long. I would love to credit all the people who contributed to this, but there are too many of you. So, thank you to all of you! Sorry for any copyright infringment, lol.
Part 1: Good to Know Before Finding the Car You Want to Purchase - New or Used, Privately or From a Dealer
1. If you’re going to buy from a US dealer/seller, it's easiest to pay for the vehicle entirely in lump-sum cash. Need a loan? Check the advice here and here. Also, to make everything easy, I recommend not to try trading-in a vehicle to a US dealer. It’s way too complicated – so sell the vehicle in Canada privately instead.
2. State sales taxes on vehicles also will not apply for you in many US states - providing you don't license the car in that state (and only buy it to bring it to Canada). Check here to confirm for the state you will be purchasing in.
3. No duties at the border are paid on the vehicle purchased in the US unless it does not have have sufficient "North American content" - that is, parts/components made in North America. Most cars made in North America meet the content rule but some may not. So, if your NA made car draws Duty, you'll know why.
It’s a vehicle made in North America if it has a VIN that begins with a 1, 4, or 5.
1, 4, 5=USA
Vehicles manufactured outside Canada, the US or Mexico are assessed a 6.1% duty fee.
You will find that at least the following brand new vehicles can (depending on the exact one you are purchasing) or will have a North American VIN:
Acura MDX - Alliston, Ontario
Acura RDX - Marysville, Ohio
Acura TL – Marysville, Ohio
BMW X5 – Spartanburg, South Carolina
BMW Z4 – Spartanburg, South Carolina
Honda Accord – Marysville, Ohio
Honda Civic – East Liberty, Ohio
Honda CRV - East Liberty, Ohio
Honda Element – East Liberty, Ohio
Honda Odyssey – Lincoln, Alabama
Honda Pilot – Lincoln, Alabama
Honda Ridgeline - Alliston, Ontario
Mercedes-Benz M-Class – Vance, Alabama
Mercedes-Benz R-Class – Vance, Alabama
Mazda 6 – Flat Rock, Michigan
Mazda B-Series – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mazda Tribute – Kansas City, Missouri
Hyundai Sonata – Montgomery, Alabama
Hyundai Santa Fe – Montgomery, Alabama
Infiniti QX56 – Canton, Mississippi
Isuzu Ascender – Moraine, Ohio and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Isuzu i-Series Pickup – Shreveport, Louisiana
Lexus RX350 (previously known as the Lexus RX330) – Cambridge, Ontario
Mitsubishi Eclipse – Normal, Illinois
Mitsubishi Endeavor – Normal, Illinois
Mitsubishi Galant – Normal, Illinois
Mitsubishi Raider – Warren, Michigan
Nissan Altima – Smyrna, Tennessee and Canton, Mississippi
Nissan Armada – Canton, Mississippi
Nissan Frontier – Smyrna, Tennessee
Nissan Maxima – Smyrna, Tennessee
Nissan Pathfinder – Smyrna, Tennessee
Nissan Quest – Canton, Mississippi
Nissan Titan – Canton, Mississippi
Nissan Xterra – Smyrna, Tennessee
Saab 9-7X – Moraine, Ohio
Subaru Baja – Lafayette, Indiana
Subaru B9 Tribeca – Lafayette, Indiana
Subaru Legacy – Lafayette, Indiana
Subaru Outback – Lafayette, Indiana
Suzuki XL7 - Ingersoll, Ontario
Toyota Avalon – Georgetown, Kentucky
Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid – Georgetown, Kentucky
Toyota Camry Solara – Georgetown, Kentucky
Toyota Corolla – Fremont, California
Toyota Sequoia – Princeton, Indiana
Toyota Sienna – Princeton, Indiana
Toyota Tacoma – Fremont, California
Toyota Tundra – Princeton, Indiana
4. Double-check that the car you are going to purchase is permitted in Canada:
http://www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety/importat ... /VAFUS.pdf
5. As of March 20 2007, if you import a big V8 vehicle (or any "gas guzzler" as defined by the RIV), you can pay up to $4000 in extra "green levy" fees. This charge will be part of the fees you pay to Canada Customs (which you will see later on in these instructions). For more info: http://www.riv.ca/english/07.03_New_Green_Levy.pdf
For imported vehicles, the tax will only apply to automobiles put into service on or after March 20, 2007. An automobile is considered to be put into service at the earliest of:
• the date the automobile is registered with a motor vehicle authority;
• the date it is plated;
• the date on which the automobile’s warranty has been put in place; or
• the date the automobile is appropriated by a dealer for their own use.
6. Check that the warranty for the car is also valid in Canada by calling the US side of the manufacturer and asking how the vehicle warranty would apply if you had to immediately move your American vehicle to Canada (due to possible relocation for a job, for example). If warranty coverage is unavailable in Canada, you can get a third party warranty from http://www.ensurall.com
Keep in mind that, even if you have to pay for a third party warranty, you are still saving thousands of dollars in many cases.
Canadian warranty status of new cars imported from the USA:
Part 2: Making the Deal (Only Follow if Buying From a Dealer)
1. Identify prospective dealers and e-mail their Internet Sales Managers. State what you want to buy, that you need temporary tags, and that you will not pay state tax (because you will be registering the vehicle in Canada). Also state you will make a deposit by credit card and wire the full amount before picking up the car. Be fully open about your intentions – some will say they can’t sell without charging state tax (and offer to let you choose the state if you can provide an address), while others will accommodate you.
Dealers of Toyota/Lexus and a few other brands that are willing to sell BRAND NEW VEHICLES to Canadians can take some hard work to find (they are perfectly willing to sell you anything that's been even slightly used, however!! - see here for example). It's easier to find dealers willing to sell brand new if they are not located near a US/Canada border point. If you have a friend or relative in the US, you may want to try one of these ideas (as out-of-state vehicle purchases for them will most likely be tax-free) - especially if you're having trouble finding a dealer willing to sell brand new to you:
If you have a relative/friend in the states, you can arrange the purchase under their name, and, more importantly, also avoid extra registration fees and US sales tax. I just did this by picking a dealership from a different state as my relative. In this case, the dealer will just give you a temporary permit, and a copy of the MCO (Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin). This can be faxed to the US border, and will allow you to export the car without actually registering in the states or paying state sales tax. If you buy in the same state as your relative, then the dealer is pretty much obligated to register and plate the car. The out-of-state thing is crucial if you want to avoid the extra delay and cost of having to register and transfer the car.
All the paperwork was done by courier between the dealer and my relative. I brought the payment, and picked up the vehicle. There was no need to actually physically, or financially, involve my relative in the transaction [but I still had to involve them in telling/convincing the dealer that I was simply picking up their car] - nor does the dealer need to know anything about bringing the car to Canada. The trick is that you have to indicate to US customs that your relative is the purchaser/exporter and that you are the transporter. Their name will have to go on the MCO, and you cannot transfer the MCO, in the States, between individuals. It can only be transfered from a dealer to an individual, or between dealers.
Luckily, the Canadian system doesn't have the same restrictions. I drew up a simple bill of sale [see here for an example] between my relative and myself, effective the date of pickup, just for Canadian Customs. I used this, along with the stamped MCO, and was able to start the RIV process under my own name, once I got the vehicle to Canada.
Apparently, US Customs does not care whether the name on the Bill of Sale given by the dealer is yours or a friend's/relative's for new cars. So, you can show them the Bill of Sale officially issued by your dealer to the name of whoever purchased the car for you. If you're asked about it, you can just state that you're transporting the vehicle to Canada on behalf of your American friend/relative. Canadian Customs, however, requires the Bill of Sale to be in your name and will likely ask to see it - which is why you must draw up a bill of sale between the buyer (buyer = the American friend/relative) and you.
If you have family/friends in the states then it could be much cheaper and simpler for you to simply ask them to temporarily add your name to their phone or utility bill and use this as your proof of residency and then purchase the vehicle in your name from an out-of-state dealer. Most Toyota dealers will accept a Canadian driver's license when purchasing the vehicle - they just need a US address with proof of residency to complete the sale.