What is Required When You Import A Car To Canada

If you have decided you need to move to Canada—maybe you have a job offer or will be attending school—and you want to bring your car along with you, it is important for you to know that there trying to import a car to Canada can be a complicated and lengthy process. That is not to say that you should be discouraged by this, but you need to be aware of it, as traveling across the border between the United States and Canada, as an example, is not the same as traveling between the states.


When you try to import a car from the United States into Canada, one of the very first things you need to know is that not all cars are allowed to remain in Canada. Almost all cars can cross the border, but only on a temporary basis; not all vehicles can be “imported” and registered in Canada.  You need to have your particular vehicle inspected and certified by an official with the Canadian Registry of Imported Vehicles (RIV).  It is important to do this before you pay the associated duties and taxes (because you may not get that money back if your vehicle does not pass inspection).

Here is a list of vehicles that cannot permanently remain in Canada:


  • any vehicle that has been stretched or lengthened
  • any vehicle built or assembled by more than one manufacturer and has not met certain requirements (to include motorhomes, limousines, etc)
  • any motorcycle which has been converted to have three wheels
  • any vehicle modified with a lift kit
  • any van equipped with a raised roof or with any interior modifications
  • any van which has been modified to become a motorhome


Unfortunately, the Canadian RIV only allows vehicles imported from the United States and no other country.  However, if you do want to import your vehicle into Canada from a country other than the USA, you can attempt to make the appropriate modifications as described in the Canada Border Services Agency Motor Vehicle Safety Act. If you can meet these regulations, the RIV may allow you to import your vehicle:

  • any regulated class vehicle that is at least 15 years old
  • any bus that was originally manufactured by 1971
  • any vehicle which has no traditional class regulated (as described in the CBSA MVSA)
  • any vehicle which does meet the MVSA requirements and was acquired abroad (overseas) through an official manufacturer’s foreign buyer program