Insuring an Import Car or Truck

Finding insurance for an imported car isn’t quite as easy as insuring a vehicle originally purchased in Canada. There are fewer companies providing this type of insurance so there is less competition in the market. A lot of import cars are expensive to purchase, which means your insurance premiums will also be more expensive. Parts for import cars are also harder to come by and this means it can be difficult and expensive to repair them. In some cases the emissions and safety standards of your imported car will not meet the requirements of Canadian law, which means you might not even be able to insure the vehicle at all. There are usually some modifications or special insurance solutions for these instances but you should do your research before you buy that import car.

Cost Considerations When Importing a Car

Importing a car to Canada is not cheap. There will be fees for the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) program, title history searches, emissions testing, and provincial inspections. You’ll also have to figure out some form of auto insurance or trip permit and pay taxes such as the GST, excise tax for vehicles that are inefficient on fuel, excise tax for air conditioning and other duties and taxes. It’s not a simple process so make sure you love that car before you decide to bring it across the border into Canada.

How to Import a Car to Canada From the United States

1) Do Your Research

Read about the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) program. You will need to know about vehicle requirements, modification requirements, automobile branding history and clearance documentation.

2) Get Your Paperwork Ready Before Showing up at the Border

Make sure all of your documentation is complete and that you have met all of the requirements of the RIV program. The US Customs may also have some reporting obligations. Do your research before you get to the border otherwise you may not be able to bring the car into Canada.

3) Complete the RIV Inspection Process

If you have completed the necessary vehicle modifications (should your car need any) you can now submit the RIV paperwork.

4) Licence Your Vehicle

You can do this by contacting your provincial licensing jurisdiction.

For more information visit the RIV website. There are different requirements if you are bringing a car into Canada from a country other than the United States. Transport Canada has information about that process on their website.

Further Reading

Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC):
Buying, selling and importing a vehicle
ICBC is British Columbia’s universal auto insurance provider and this guide explains the process of buying, selling and importing cars in the province.

Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO):
Licensing a Vehicle that is Registered in Another Jurisdiction
The MTO has information about licensing car and trucks that are registered outside of Ontario. Ie. cars from other provinces in Canada. At the bottom of that webpage you can learn about importing a vehicle from outside of Canada.

Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI):
Purchases and Trades Outside Manitoba
This page explains the laws that apply when you buy a truck or car outside of Manitoba and want to drive it back to that province. You will need to purchase a Temporary Registration Permit for the length of your transport. This must be no longer than 30 days. To get a temporary permit you can contact Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) at 204-985–7000 within Manitoba or toll free at 1-800-665–2410.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA):
Importing a Vehicle Into Canada
This guide discusses how to import a vehicle into Canada from the United States. If the car you are hoping to import qualifies then you must register it with the RIV program. The fee for registration is $195 plus tax. There are some exemptions in the RIV program so make sure you read that section before you purchase a car in the US.

Register of Imported Vehicles
This entire website is useful for anyone that wants to import a vehicle to Canada. Take the time to read through this site to get yourself acquainted before buying a car from outside your province.