Hey everyone. I'm not sure if this information is somewhere else on the forum, but since posting in that "buying a bike in the US" thread, I've gotten several PM's asking how I did it. I've sent the same response to a few people, but thought it would be good to post it publicly so everyone can see it. On another forum I belong to the mods have made this topic a "sticky" as it comes up so often. Here's the link to that:
There's a lot of info there, some of it not worth the time of reading, but still, it's a starting point.
As for my experience, here's what I did and it all went off pretty much without a hitch:
There's a lot of confusing information out there about importing, and it's hard to know what the facts are. Truthfully, I've just gone through it, and I can tell you what I did, but it doesn't mean it will necessarily go the same way a second time. It seems to be a constantly changing process, and Canadian companies are changing rules all the time to make it more difficult. You have to jump through some hoops, but for the money you save, it's worth it.
Here are the steps I took, as simply as I can lay them out.
1. Go to the website www.riv.ca
. This site will give you lots of information and will give you a list of bikes that are admissable into Canada.
2. Figure out how you'll transport the bike. If you are insured with State Farm, you may be able to get the new bike insured before importing it, so you can ride it over the border. More likely, you won't be able to insure it until it's in Canada, which means you will need to bring it over on a trailer.
3. 72 hours before you are going to bring the bike into Canada, you have to have the original ownership of the bike delivered to the "Export Control" division of US Customs (NOT Canadian Customs) at the border where you will be crossing. They need this time to make sure the title is clear and legitimate and that the bike is something that is allowed to be exported. You will need the seller of the bike to send the original (not a copy), to you or direct to the border. Likely you will have had to pay for all or most of the purchase price to get them to do that.
3. Go get the bike.
4. When you get to the border and are about to enter Canada, make sure you stop at US Customs BEFORE you get to Canada Customs. You have to go and retrieve the original of the ownership which you sent to them 3 days ago. They will verify that the ownership is for the bike that you've got, and send you on your way.
5. At Canadian Customs, they will fill out a form for the RIV, and charge you a $200 fee. They will also want the bill of sale and will collect GST based on the amount of the bill of sale. They will need the month and year of manufacture of the bike. You can only pay by credit card. They will fax a form to the RIV to start the process of registering the bike in Canada.
6. When you get the bike home, call the RIV. Confirm that they have the form sent to them at the border. They will then ask you for a letter from the manufacturer stating that there are "No Recall Campaigns Open". You can get this from the US Dealer where the bike was serviced at no charge, or you can get it from BMW Canada for $500. Fax that to RIV and they will let you know within the day if it is sufficient and if the bike is cleared. They will email you a "federal inspection form". Take that to a Canadian Tire and they will do an inspection of the bike, for free. They will fax a form to the RIV or they will tell you what modifications are required to bring the bike into compliance with Transport Canada's rules. If they say the bike is fine, you are done with the importation process.
At that point you have a Canadian-legal bike, and you can go and insure it and register it with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation as you would with any other bike.
I hope this helps some people who are considering bringing in a bike. If people have conflicting information, post it up. This was just my experience, and I am certainly no expert in cross-border transactions. :)