When I first decided to buy this car, I began the process of figuring out how to go about exporting the car from the US and importing it into Canada. I found a lot of misinformation, conjecture, theories, and useless websites.

So I thought I’d write out exactly the process I went through to import the car, which went without any hiccups.

So, once I had decided on a car, the first step was to file with the RIV. (Well, the first step is to ensure the car is ELIGIBLE to be imported. The import page on the RIV website is actually useful for this.)

Once I’d verified it was eligible, I filed with the RIV. Because the car is over 15 years old, it was exempt from most of the program. I just filled out the form via their online portal. (Click ‘Create an E-Form’). Once I’d filled it out, I was able to immediately print it. It gave me 4 copies: one for me, one for the province, one for the CBSA, and one for the RIV. Their website told me they’d sent me an email, but that’s a lie, as I confirmed with RIV support that I wouldn’t get an email because my time with their system was now complete. (If the car you’re importing younger than 15 years old, you have more work to do, but I won’t comment, because I haven’t had to deal with that.)

Next, I needed to file with the AES (Automated Export System) for the US export of the car. I used AES For Vehicles for this. They act as the broker. Filing with them was $45 USD. I needed the car’s information (mileage, price, VIN, year, make, model, etc.), as well as the name/phone number/EIN of the person I purchased from. An EIN is a tax identification number in the United States with the IRS that is independent of social security numbers. (I had to make sure the seller is OK with filing for and providing me with one of these before making the deal. Step-by-step instructions for the seller to get their EIN can be found here.)

Within one day, the company emailed me my ‘ITIN’, which I needed to provide to the US border when exporting the car. I went to the CBP website for the port I was crossing at (Lake Huron/Sarnia), and got the email address of the border crossing where I was exporting the car.

Next, I emailed that address, and in the email, I provided them my name, make, year, model, VIN, and the ITIN provided to me by the AES service. YOU MUST PROVIDE THE US BORDER 3 DAYS’ NOTICE!

Then, I went to get the car. I flew to Kansas, picked it up, and drove it home. 16h. The previous owner was willing to leave his Kansas plates on it, which made my life easier. Some states you can get a temp plate if you need it, but some won’t give them to non-residents. Some states the previous owner can get one for you. Alternatively, you can throw valid plates you have on for one of your own vehicles on it, and hope for the best. I contacted the state police for each state I would be driving through to ask about the legality of this, and each of them emailed back with, ‘as long as your paperwork is in order, you should be fine’. YMMV on this one.

Once I got to the border, I stopped on the US side before crossing the bridge, and went into the customs office. I provided them with a print out of my email to them from at least 72h prior, a print out of their response email to me confirming they received it, the bill of sale, and the title to the car. They went through it, exported it from their systems, and then stamped the title and sent me on my way. It took less than 5 minutes.

Once I arrived on the Canadian side, I declared the car as one would any other goods when returning to Canada. They gave me the referral slip, and I took it inside. I provided the CBSA border officer with my 4 copies of the RIV form, the bill of sale, and the title.

The CBSA agent went through and filled in the necessary parts on the RIV forms, and kept 2 copies (the RIV copy, and the CBSA copy). I then paid the federal portion of the taxes on the car, plus the AC tax. The border officer then returned to me the other two copies of the RIV form (with his part filled in), and a copy of the B15 (the importation payment receipt), plus he gave me back the title.

Next, I drove it to the MTO/ServiceOntario near the border. I provided them with the B15, the title, the provincial copy of the RIV form, and proof of insurance. They charged me the provincial portion of the sales tax, plus the regular licensing fees, and gave me an Ontario ownership, plates and a temp sticker. Now I have to get an e-test and safety as you would any other car, so that I can permanently plate it for the roads in Canada.

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