Importing a bike from the States to Canada

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Duster929, Oct 3, 2007.

  1. Duster929

    Duster929 New Member!

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    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:

    http://www.gtamotorcycle.com/vbforum/showthread.php?t=1038

    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. :)

    --- D
    #1
  2. blitzkreig

    blitzkreig Been here awhile

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    Good explanation. Just a couple of additional notes ...

    1) The bike needs to have the Manufacturer declare that all safety recalls have been done on your particular bike. So you need to get in touch with BMW for example ... give them your VIN and they need to fax you back a letter on their letterhead stating the bike is clear of recalls. You need this to cross into Canada.

    2) I contacted the actual border crossing folks on BOTH sides of the border and just asked them as they must see all kinds of mistakes ... what do I need to do to make this as painless as possible? They were very helpful.

    The US folks said that they would accept a fax copy of the Title signed over to me ... and when I asked just how in the world I would convince the seller to do that when I hadn't paid for the whole thing yet ... and they wanted CASH money ... ?

    The helpful border persn said ... well just get a photocopy of the Title ... have the party selling the bike SIGN OFF ON THE PHOTOCOPY and keep the original in their hands until I picked up the bike and paid the $$$.

    They told me that a photocopy was all I needed !!! So I noted the persons name on the paperwork just in case I found this was a piece of bad advice.

    That little hint was a HUGE help. The photocopy was accepted.

    They also said although the websites hinted that the seller should fax the Title over ... that in real practical application they far rather the purchaser get hold of it and then fax it ALL AT THE SAME TIME. They said any other way and paper gets lost and there is where the hold up often occurs.

    The US folks want AT LEAST 72 hours and early is even better. The websites suggest the paperwork be sent to some central place that does it all ... but the actual Border folks said to fax it the actual crossing location AS WELL.

    More is better.

    Note that I phoned the actual border crossing to ask advice. I phoned to ask if they got the fax. And I phoned a couple days later and asked if there was anything at all that I lacked.

    3) If you are going to take any newer riding stuff with you ... say for test driving the bike when you are picking it up ... make sure you have sales receipts for them ... as the silly Canadian border guards wanted me to pay GST on my 3 year old helmet and a brand new wheel chock I had installed in Canada before I left on my pick up trip because they thought I must have bought them in the States. Like they were all anxious about $36.00 GST. :lol3

    I thought it was cute that on the US side the border was so organized and each and every staff person was in full uniform complete with Glock and sundry holster tools of the trade.

    The Canadian border staff had exactly the very same holster ... but in place of the Glock they had a big rubber stamp which they drew upon frequently to date stamp the paperwork :rofl

    I went through a tiny border crossing which had limited hours ... so a very busy crossing might be a very different experience.

    4) The last point is when you get it home it isn't likely you can register and insure until AFTER the inspectionS are done.

    Yes plural.

    The Canadian Tire inspection is a bit of a joke as all the Canadian Tire guy knew about motorcycles was to check to see if the VIN was the same as the paperwork said. Well that and verify that the bike was currently on fire ... :evil

    But then when I went to register I was told that I needed a PROVINCAL inspection done by an approved dealer. That took a few days to get the appointment and cost another couple hundred dollars.

    All in all the process went rather smoothly and I would most certainly do it again.:D
    #2
  3. Drif10

    Drif10 Accredited Jackass

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    CT here in Ontario will take care of the provincial inspection, too.
    #3
  4. Steve G.

    Steve G. Long timer

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    #4
  5. Duster929

    Duster929 New Member!

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    #5
  6. thumper 8

    thumper 8 wag more, bark less

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    #6
  7. spawnx66

    spawnx66 Been here awhile

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    Does anyone have the link to which border crossings allow Vehicle Importation and the availability hours? I remember seeing it posted here recently but for the life of me can't find it now. Trying to help a friend buy a car in the states.
    #7
  8. zomby woof

    zomby woof Been here awhile

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    I believe no border crossing will prevent you from bringing in a vehicle.
    There are designated crossings that deal specifically with importation, and as I recall, these are the ones you want to avoid.
    Port huron is not one, and I breezed through with my bike, painlessly, in 15 mins.
    I was told (a few times) by a fellow racer, who has imported many cars, that he specifically avoids the designated border crossings in order to simplify importation.
    That may change now.
    With all the people bringing in bikes, and cars, the un-designated crossings may be getting better educated.
    #8
  9. CGH

    CGH Polluting the ether

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    Here's the link to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) home page. On the left side, under the heading "Resources", you'll see "CBSA Offices". This takes you to a page with links to all the offices and ports, and further, to their hours and services listings. They don't have individual office listings for phone and fax, but you can get this information from the toll-free number.

    As with the U.S. ports, the guys in the field do things a little different than what is outlined in the official information. For example, I was told that the CBSA would not accept payment for the GST over $500 by credit card. :huh Yeah, that's what I thought too. Anyhow, I phoned the port I was planning on bringing the vehicle through and the guy I talked to said that yes, while that's the official policy, they turn a blind eye to it. Will they all do that? YMMV.

    No links to any Facebook pages though. :lol3
    #9
  10. Boredsurfer

    Boredsurfer Been here awhile

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    Hey guys:

    so I have a KTM 950 SE down here in L.A. that someone from B.C. wants to buy from me and do a fly n' ride.

    Here's the problem: my bank has the title and says that it would take 7-10 business days to send the title to me after I pay off the lien..... but they said they would furnish a bill of sale and release of liability form that I could take to AAA to register this bike in the new buyers name after he pays taxes on the sale (and then forward the title later to his address in B.C.) Does this sound right?

    So here's some questions:

    1) have any of you guys bought bikes from the States and have any input?
    2) would the buyer really have to pay taxes in CA and then again in Canada?
    3) what documentation does the border really need?

    Thnx gents. I would love to hear from any of you soonish, cuz my buyer is getting cold feet - not good in this economy. Thnx again :clap
    #10
  11. drcool

    drcool R.I.P. Dave

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    Yes, No and No.

    First off we pay no taxes.

    The buyer requires clear title to send to the border crossing before export. No clean title, no export.

    There is a very clear thread here in the Canadian forum. Have a read and send your buyer there as well.

    No ticky, No laundry
    drcool
    #11
  12. Deuce

    Deuce Crazy Canuck

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    First of all, tell him to relax and help him as much as you can. I bought my 950 in Seattle and the seller did all the faxing of docs for me to U.S. Customs for the export paperwork when I got to the border. It takes a bit of trust from both seller and buyer. You also need to get him a copy of the bikes service/recall history from your local KTM dealer. This doc must list all or any recalls that have been performed on the bike. He will need this when he gets back home and wants to register his bike with the Feds. I hope your bike is an '07 or lower. KTM refused to certify '08's up for Cdn. importation from the U.S.

    2) The buyer should not have to pay the Cali tax (as long as he doesn't transfer the plate into his name. I used the previous owners plate to ride home. Totally legal, as I had 10 days to complete the transfer. ICBC will sell him transit insurance to get the bike home. He just needs the VIN and plate # from you before he leaves or he can do it from there via fax). He will pay Cdn tax at the border. No import taxes.

    3) You have to fax a copy of the title, registration and bill of sale to U.S. Customs 3 working days (Mon-Fri) before the bike gets to the border. He must cross at the border crossing where you faxed the docs. On the Canadian side they will want to look at the title and bill of sale.

    Go here for step by step info:
    http://www.bcsportbikes.com/forum/showthread.php?t=85230

    Cheers
    Richard
    #12
  13. rob1313

    rob1313 Still learning

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    From my experience both above posters are right. The only thing I might add is that the bike must have an emissions compliance decal on it. If not it's a show stopper at the border.
    #13
  14. Deuce

    Deuce Crazy Canuck

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    It is not the emissions sticker they look at. It is the sticker with the tire pressures on it. Weird or what??:huh
    #14
  15. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    The dollar is stronger now, making importation even more attractive. Thread is stickied..
    #15
  16. rob1313

    rob1313 Still learning

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    Thanks Gadget.
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  17. 2kool2be4gotten

    2kool2be4gotten Adventurer

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    With a recent relocation from the states to Ontario i've imported several vehicles (2 cars and a motorcycle). One piece of advice i got was to keep the FAX verification sheet - sure enough when i got to Port Huron the US agent asked for it. I'm not sure what would have happend if i didn't have it, but having it made things go smoothly.
    #17
  18. drcool

    drcool R.I.P. Dave

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    Good idea for the Sticky Gadget. Can you bring the original thread into this somehow or insert a link at the beginning. There is a wealth of info that helped me immensly with the import of my GS. Some pretty detailed stuff that could really help a n00b.

    planning is 110%
    drcool
    #18
  19. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    There are several "how to import a bike from the US" threads in this forum, just do a search. I picked this one because post 1 has a step by step without having to go through pages of drivel to get to the meat.. if you find one one with a better setup, post the link and I'll look at it.
    #19
  20. kananaskis

    kananaskis Adventurer

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    I know the process of importing vehicles into Canada from the US pretty well as its part of what I do.

    If its a personal importation (not for commercial resale), the bike (or car etc) needs to meet the list of admissible vehicles from Transport Canada. Check RIV.CA or TC.GC.CA to verify that your ride will be kosher.

    Some vehicles (TVR sports cars,trikes, custom choppers, one-offs etc) will not be allowed into Canada unless the manufacturer can provide documentation to Transport Canada as to crash safety/bumper heights/chassis specs etc and be recognized by TC for the particular importation... If they reach the border somehow and are not legal in Canada they dont come in. Simple as that.

    The CDN border officers require a free and clear TITLE in hand in most cases (I would say 99.9% of the time)... Many ports will NOT accept a photocopy. Call ahead to the specific port to verify with a supervisor if that is what you have instead of the title.
    They also need a bill of sale. If you bought it from your buddy/uncle etc in the states and he gave you it for a dollar or something it will be re-appraised at fair market value when you go to pay taxes on this bike at the border. That is called a non-arms length transaction.

    The 72 hour requirement is not a CDN law so yes, you can import the bike into Canada without the Title being stamped by the USA officers but I wouldn't suggest that route. The US requires that so that the vehicle (controlled, titled property of the individual and state) can be permanently exported. If you fail to export and proceed with importing the bike into Canada you could have your bike seized by the USA if it were to ever return into the states... As I said, Not a good idea.

    Motorcycles (TWO WHEELED BIKES ONLY), unlike cars, do NOT carry duty even when manufactured overseas in Japan or Germany etc. Cars (BMW, Toyota etc) made overseas carry a 6.1% duty rate in addition to the taxes and $100 dollar A/C excise tax. Some gas gusslers also have huge "green levies" attached to them.... (Hummers, Land Rovers etc can carry between $1000 - $4000 in green levies)...
    The easiest way to tell where your bike was manufactured is by the VIN. If the first number/character is a 1,2,3,4 or 5 it is NAFTA based and therefore only tax. If it is a letter it is overseas (ie: J = Japan, W= Germany etc)

    Easiest way to sum this overdrawn response up is:

    1. FIND BIKE
    2. CHECK ADMISSIBILITY AGAINST LIST (ALMOST ALL ARE FINE)
    3. GET BIKE
    4. HAVE TITLE (REAL) AND BILL OF SALE IN HAND
    5. IF POSSIBLE HAVE PROOF OF PAYMENT IN HAND (IF APPLICABLE)
    6. BRING ONLINE ADVERTISEMENTS/EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE (IF APPLICABLE)
    7. GIVE US CUSTOMS BORDER PROTECTION 72 HOURS MINIMUM NOTICE OF EXPORT
    8. DRIVE BIKE TO BORDER. STOP BEFORE ENTERING CANADA AT US CUSTOMS TO COMPLETE EXPORT
    9. GET ON BIKE AND DRIVE UP TO CANADA CUSTOMS
    10. MAKE DECLARATION TO CUSTOMS REGARDING BIKE
    11. FILL OUT FORM 1. CUSTOMS OFFICER STAMPS IT.
    12. PAY TAXES (DUTIES IF APPLICABLE TO OTHER FORM OF VEHICLE)
    13. RIDE HOME
    14. PAY RIV PAYMENT (ABOUT $ 200 CDN) ONLINE USING INFORMATION FROM FORM 1 AND SIGN UP FOR FORM 2 TO BE SENT/EMAILED TO YOU
    15. USE FORM 1 TO GET PROVINCIAL INSPECTION
    16. USE FORM 2 TO GET FEDERAL INSPECTION
    17. ENJOY NEW IMPORTED TOY
    #20