Import to Canada


Have read the other threads here, and other forums, and soaked up some good information. Wondering if anyone has done this process recently? Lots and lots of info, I will send queries to RIV and CBSA. From what I've read I may not have to import immediately, I could keep my current US driver's license and vehicle tags, keep my US insurance, and I may have to get an international driver's license if I stay for many months - as my intent is not to settle for 12 months+ but I plan to return to the USA.

If/when I do import I would have to clear the vehicle, which may be considered a 'Van Conversion', with the RIV. My added seats are DOT compliant and my diesel heater is certified for use in all North America. I have no gas, no blackwater tank, the van is not heavily modified and all safety features and functions are Canada road worthy. If it doesn't fly as Van Conversion, it's still a Sprinter van which is on the RIV approved list. I wonder, does the Mercedes fall under the NAFTA agreement?

I'm still waiting to get a recalled tire pressure sticker, and maybe have to get a French manual for Quebec.

Here are some points I've found so far:

I've got Canadian PR, but I'm not ready to settle for the long haul. I still have business and work in the USA.
"A settler describes all who enter Canada with the intention of establishing a residence for the first time and for a period of not less than 12 months. Persons entering Canada to become Permanent Residents without the intention of residing immediately in Canada are not considered Settlers to Canada since they do not have any intention of remaining in Canada at that time, and will live outside Canada for an undetermined period of time. Therefore, under customs legislation, these persons are considered visitors to Canada, even if they are Permanent Residents for immigration purposes."

My vehicle is owned by me, and my spouse and I own a home in Canada - would be eligible for a customs exemption?
11. A Form B4, Personal Effects Accounting Document...
Goods Admissible
12. Either spouse may claim free importation of personal and household effects under tariff item No. 9807.00.00, regardless of whether the goods are registered jointly or in either name. Personal and household effects can include such items as:
(c) vehicles;



Well-known member
May or may not be relevant, but I was told recently by someone that recently drove his 13 year old US purchased vehicle from his US to Canadian home that the usual US export/Canadian import procedures had been modified (Covid - reduce contact at border) so that all he had to do was drive home, with the existing California plates, and decide within six weeks if he wanted to import it.


2018 Winnebago Navion 24V on a 2017 Cab Chassis
Have read the other threads here, and other forums, and soaked up some good information. Wondering if anyone has done this process recently? Lots and lots of info, I will send queries to RIV and CBSA.
This is the best answer. You might also want to check the Transport Canada website, and the Provincial Ministry of Transport in the province that you'll be entering, to get their take on it.
I imported a brand new travel trailer from Michigan to Ontario in 2013, but they are completely different animals, towables and motorized vehicles. Once I touched all the government bases, the process was easier than I thought. It took about a month in total, IIRC, with the Michigan dealer's help with the US side of the paperwork.
If it gets confusing and overwhelming, you might contact a US/Canada Customs Broker and see if they could make it a more seamless process for you. For a fee, of course.


2015 3500 X long limo RV
Don't you overthink the issue?
Don't know if Canada has special laws for stay below 12 months, but I doubt it.
Spending part of my life in San Francisco area, I have seen hundreds of students driving cars with Oregon, or other registration for all 5 years they spend in CA , even the law in CA gives 14 days to change the registration when you become permanent resident there.


Van is currently CA plated, and I travel frequently - I garage it on the east coast when overseas. Past few years CA keeps holding up my registration for SMOG, I supply form 5103 Smog exemption. Every year they either loose my paperwork or something, and they continually ask for Smog Cert... it's like a running joke at this point. I haven't been to CA since 2018 as all my work has taken me out of state (CA taxes are killing the movie/TV biz), but have been tax paying resident since 2006. This year they said 5103 was denied as I cannot use the "temporary" exemption multiple years in a row. DMV wants me to drive from the east coast to SMOG my van in CA. DMV rep suggested registering in another state - not very helpful as I don't have any residence in another state. I re-sent form 5103 with my work details and even copies of my passport visas showing I was not in CA - as the DMV rep said "people have been using the exemption and then staying in state". Waiting now with expired reg/tags to see if they accept it. If so I can hold off on the importation for a while longer. May be less of a headache just to import to Canada...
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2015 3500 X long limo RV
The registration is quite well covered on forum. I never used it, but from what I read - you should be able to supply other state smog check for extending CA registration.
Than CA is famous for charging HUGE registration fees and lot of buyers of luxury Diesel Pushers go as far as establishing Montana corporation, who keeps the title and owner "rents" it for driving in CA. Lot of Montana Law offices offer their help doing so.
So sounds like you are paddling against the current?
Anyway, I can't believe that you live outside the state since 2006 and can't find relative, or a friend who would let you use his address for registration where you are staying?
Than there is whole system of private PO boxes, who shows as street address for mail forwarding.


CA DMV gave me a flat NO when I told them I could get Smog in another state. Haven't been away since 2006, just 2018. Registration has never been an issue until this year having them deny the form 5103. Other option would be VA, add a family member to the title - pretty heavy yearly personal property tax though and yearly inspections. I've got property in TN (1% tax rate as well), it's just the COVID wildness has dented all my plans. Could do another address in another state, but then what happens when I'm ready to spend more then 12 months here in Canada? Maybe I'm just delaying the inevitable...
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2015 3500 X long limo RV
Could do another address in another state, but then what happens when I'm ready to spend more then 12 months here in Canada? Maybe I'm just delaying the inevitable...
You remind me DW.
She likes to worry about things who never happen and not likely will happen.
Years ago, starting in CA I took my vintage motorhome across the continent. Bad luck the engine blow in Ottawa. I rented a van and continue to see my friends and relatives, eventually buying another MH in Baltimore.
MD would not give me temporary tags, so I used my cousin address to get MD plates. 2 years tags cost me $90.
For comparison - CA at the time charged tax + $300 out of state vehicle + registration fees who depend on vehicle value.
The 1st year would cost me about $3000 and 2nd about $1500
So how is $45 a year v/s $3000 for your understanding?


2015 3500 X long limo RV
Another funny memory from over 20 years ago (before 9/11)'
I bought Diesel Pusher in Ontario and was crossing Canada/US border with no license plates, while I speak English with hard accent.
Canadians Customs did not even open the window, when US custom open the window and from the distance DP was park over engine noise he yelled to me "How many Mexicans you hide back there?"
I answer "none" and was on my way 3 seconds later.


Crossing the bridge when I come to it... haven't crossed it, but came closer. The bridge became a border. Had a Canadian border officer tell me he could turn me around entering from US. First time using my CAN PR card, said I would need to import my vehicle. I finally have the CA plate issue behind me by registering in VA (up to three year registration, no smog, annual inspection only if you'll be operating in VA, renewal by mail) thought it would be smooth sailing.

Officer let me in as a visitor, as I was with my Canadian spouse and child. So next time I leave Canada for work/life in the US I may have trouble getting into Canada with my van - which is not eligible for import being a "modified" conversion van.


Led me to:

Next time, if it's an issue, I can try for 30-60 day temp importation based on my business being in USA and using my van as my sole mode of transport.
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