UPDATED--Summary: How To Import a Vehicle to Canada, Insurance and Financing Options
First of all, ensure the vehicle you choose to import is admissable to Canada. Another is to see if the vehicle's warranty is transferable, if new, so that you won't have any problems servicing the vehicle up in Canada. You may choose to purchase a separate warranty other than the manufacturers if you decide on a vehicle that the manufacturer's warranty isn't transferable. I haven't compiled a list of the manufacturers who's warranty is transferable, so it'll take a little digging. A website stated many times in other threads is the RIV : http://www.riv.ca/english/html/us_vehic ... ility.html. This site is like the bible of importing, and if you miss this step, you'll be stuck with a car you paid FOR and not being able to bring it back to Canada.
The next step is to find the car you wish to import, and a good place to start is www.autotrader.com which contains the largest collection of vehicles in the US. This site also provides the VIN's for CarFax. You'll most likely end up making 2 trips to where the car is located, or like me, arrange everything over the phone with a dealer in the US. I ended calling a lot of border dealers and some other contacts further south on RFD. Many dealerships were reluctant to sell to Canadians due to political red tape. I found one that was willing to sell to me...it just took a little phoning around. Many of the dealers again, don't want to risk their franchises or be penalized by selling to Canadians. I've been told that you have to go a little farther down south in the US to find a dealer for Toyota or others, but not along the border states to Canada as in Detroit, Ohio, NY, etc etc...
Once you've found the car, if it's brand new and from a dealer, you may not need to check it through www.CarFax.com. A used car is surely a must to ensure if the odometer has been tampered with or if it's a salvage title, etc, etc....BE AWARE!
Another thing is to have proof of insurance coverage with the vehicle you're going to purchase as per the dealer. Provide them with the VIN number, Year, Make, Model, and they should send you a letter confirming coverage. The insurance co. I dealt with gave me 14 days to get the car registered in Ontario, so more than enough time.
I purchased brand new and the best thing was NO STATE TAXES in NY if you're exporting the vehicle. In addition, the dealer produced all necessary documents into a booklet, so when I reached the border, Customs officials basically looked through the table of contents to find what they needed. In both cases for a new/used car, you need a "recall clearance letter" from the manufacturer. This paper explains that there are no outstanding recalls associated with your vehicle which has the VIN # on it too. If this paper states that there are outstanding recalls and isn't clear, you'll have to fix those deficiencies in order to complete and pass Federal Inspection in Canada for a new car. Check for liens too. For further information: http://www.riv.ca/english/html/recall_clearance.html
Also check here for contacts for recall letters from other manufacturers: http://www.riv.ca/english/html/recall_contacts.html
You must fax both sides of the ownership (MSO aka "Manufacturer State of Origin") to US Customs at the port which you'll be driving the car back through. *Important*, IT MUST BE LEGIBLE, or else it won't be accepted. You'll get a big surprise when you get to the border and be asked to turn back. Call about 2 hours later to confirm that they've received it...Again, if it's a new car, the dealer will do it for you in some cases, if used, you must do it yourself. Here is the number for US Customs at the Queenston Lewiston Bridge: 1-716-282-1400. If you're importing through the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, it can be done Mon-Fri- 8:00am to 4:00pm. NO WEEKENDS...As others mentioned, Alexandria Bay near Thousand Islands is open 24/7 for imports as others here have reported. Another Port of Entry is Alexandria Bay, near 1000 islands. Tel 315) 482-2472.
Again, since I bought my car brand new, I negotiated everything through the phone. I made a deposit over the phone of $500, faxed him proof of insurance and took the bus down to Buffalo, cost me $26.xx, one way. I suggest buying a round trip, as Customs questioned me about the one way ticket, and they do have the right to refuse you entry to the US...just my 2 cents though. The dealer then picked me up at the bus station in Buffalo. From there, I brought a certified cheque for the amount of the vehicle negotiated and declared it at Customs. Please all, don't hide what you're bring over. It clearly states that you must declare that you have more than $10 000. Customs has the right to confiscate your money for not declaring it.
Now the fun begins...After you've signed everything, paid and checked the vehicle, you're good to go. The dealer will provide you with a temporary transit plate stuck on the rear window. You may need a Temp plate from State to State if you're importing a vehicle farther from the border States. From there, drive to border and stop at the US Customs side before you go through Canada Customs. It's just off to the left before you cross the bridge!!! Park the car and bring in all documentation including proof of insurance, original ownership and recall letter. I walked in and went to the counter and told them that I was exporting a vehicle and showed them the paperwork. They looked at the car, stamped my ownership, checked the VIN to the car and I was out the door. For a used car, they might inspect it a little more. It took me less than 10 mins. This is where the paperwork that the dealer put together came in handy. No scrummaging through papers, everything was in order.
Next...Canada Customs. At the booth, I told the officer I was importing a vehicle to Canada...gave me a yellow slip and told me to see the officers in the building. Parked the car again and went to the desk and showed them all paperwork again. They will also fill out "FORM 1" which you'll need later on. Showed them the Bill of Sale and they converted the amount I paid US into CAD dollars. From there, the US amount converted into CAD, I was charged the GST (6%). If it's a used vehicle, declare the value and don't under declare the value of the car. Canada Customs has the ability to seize your vehicle. The vehicle (and all goods in it) will be seized, you won't be charged/arrested under the Customs Act unless the officer feels you have hindered them. You will however have committed an offence under the Custom Act. Oh yeah...there is a import duty fee of 6.1% if the vehicle isn't made in North America and $100 A/Conditioning Tax. The RIV Importation Fee is now $206.70 and only credit card is accepted, NO Interac. This is because the $206.70 goes directly to Transport Canada, the funds do NOT go to the CBSA. Another 15 mins. After all is paid, you're good to go. Again this is where the paperwork in order came in handy. I've read horror stories of missing 1 vital piece of information and being turned back and refused entry.
I drove home, parked the car and waited until "Form 2" was sent to me from the RIV (usually within about 10 days). Form 2, once you've received it through the mail, will enable you to bring the vehicle to Canadian Tire to have the vehicle inspected to meet Canadian Standards...ie. bumpers, Daytime Running Lights, Child Tethers, Airbags. Bring "Form 2" to CT for inspection. They will stamp your Form 2 and ask for the "Recall Clearance Letter" as mentioned before, and fax it to the RIV. Others have mentioned physically going to the RIV which is located at 405 The West Mall in Etobicoke, Toronto to obtain "Form 2" instead of waiting for the Form 2 to arrive. It's up to you. Bring all documents to the MTO and have the car registered and plated and PAY again...this time the PST (8%) (ouch). You can use the Temp plate for the time being, but i don't suggest it as it is a TEMPORARY PLATE. You don't need a Emissions test if it's a new car. Older cars, 5+ yrs, yes.
After that's all done, the RIV will send you a compliance label to affix to your door sill...Good Luck All....Don't know if all this savings will come to an end and manufacturers will stop honoring the warranties.
As requested, for financial options on purchasing the vehicle...there aren't many, period. Option 1: CASH. Option 2: As many have suggested in this thread: http://www.redflagdeals.com/forums/show ... p?t=307601 your most likely bet would be your LOC (Line of Credit). Interest Rates are comparable to some of the financing rates that dealers are offering, but don't quote me on that one (no flaming Please!). Check with your local banking institutions. You're unable to finance the vehicle in the US, as you're not a resident, and don't possess a SSN. I chose this time to purchase because of the rising dollar (don't know if the dollar will continue rising or fall again) and the conversion rate was favorable at 1.113679 at the time I converted into USD. So, given the calculations, including the RIV fees, PST, GST, and plates, I still came out ahead. Option 3: Get a conventional bank loan and convert to USD. Lastly: I've been told is that some banking institutions will actually finance the car loan for you. Again, check with your local Bank. Now is the time to save for a NEW CAR!... AGAIN...GOOD LUCK!
Disclaimer: This is what I did, it doesn't mean it will be the same for anyone else who wishes to import a vehicle. This is for information purposes only. I'm am not liable for anything else, as I'm posting my experience.