What You Need to Know Before Shipping Your Car to Canada

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Shipping your car to another country can seem like a daunting task if you don’t know what you need to do first. If you are moving to Canada, moving your car as well can seem like an extra burden, but it doesn’t have to be. You can take steps to ensure a smooth process and start your new life in your new country.

If you already live in Canada and are looking to purchase a car in the U.S. and have it shipped to you, the steps are similar. You will have to present the same paperwork and licensing to qualify your car for import into Canada.

Here is what you need to know before shipping your car to Canada:

Choose Wisely

Before starting the lengthy process of shipping a car to Canada, carefully consider the type of driving conditions you will encounter in your area. A small sedan without 4-wheel drive could be dangerous to drive in the snow or heavy rain. There are parts of the country that get less snow than others, but be prepared to drive in less than ideal conditions.

If you already own the car you are transporting, it is a good idea to plan for the winter months of how you will get around. Selling your car in favor of a new one once you are there may be a good idea to prevent potential accidents.

The List

After choosing a car, if you haven’t already, the first step will be checking the list of vehicles allowed for import into the country. If the car you own or are looking to purchase is not on the list, it will make the process come to a standstill.

Multiple agencies require compliance before you move forward with the import process. The border agencies on both sides, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Environmental, and Climate Change Canada, and Transport Canada. Once you meet the criteria for these agencies, you are ready to proceed.

Check the Title

After you have determined that the model car you are looking to transport is allowed, search the car’s title for any mention of salvage or severe damage that has been repaired. Any car with a salvage title will not be allowed to be imported, and significant damage can be a red flag for the border patrol processing the transfer.

If you own your car, check the title yourself, but if you are purchasing the car, contact the U.S. Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain the information.


An ITN, Internal Transit Number, must be obtained prior to notifying the border patrol of your plan to export the car. To get one of these numbers, you will need to pay for one with an importing company that does business in the U.S. and Canada. You will need to send them your personal information, along with the car’s info, for them to provide you with the number.

While you may assume you will get a notice if your number has been accepted or denied, you will not receive confirmation until you arrive at the border to import your car. While it may seem odd to withhold the information, the border patrol has the policy of keeping their silence about the approval/denial.

72-Hour Rule

A 72-hour rule is in place for before your vehicle passes through the U.S. border checkpoint. They must be notified of the export and ensure all of the proper documentation has been processed before your car makes it to the checkpoint. If you are having your car shipped, and you are not driving, the company will likely present this information to the border patrol.

If you choose to drive your car over the border yourself, call or check online to see if there is an import/export office at the border location and locate where it is at the checkpoint. Most of the major border crossings have these offices, but they may be difficult to spot.


Everyone dreads taxes, but they are a fact of life, which is no different when exporting a car. You will be required to present your documentation at the border and pay the necessary taxes. There are different forms, whether the import is for personal(B15) or business(B3), so make sure you have the right form before submitting your documents.

There is a duty on cars manufactured outside of the U.S. that comes with an extra $100.00 CAD if the vehicle has air conditioning. There is also the potential for a third tax for the green levy between $1,000 and $4,000 CAD. This tax is dependent on the type of vehicle.

You’ve Arrived

Now that you’ve arrived with your new car and are ready to start your new life, be aware of the different driving policies in various provinces. All of the speed limit signs will be in kilometers per hour, and in Quebec, the road signs may be only in French.

Familiarize yourself with the laws before you start driving on the roads and potentially cause a problem unknowingly. Traffic laws are similar to the U.S., but not the same, so do your research. If you get the chance, travel some or all of the Trans-Canada Highway and see some of what the beautiful country has to offer.

Enjoy the Drive

There are few things greater than a long road trip with a happy ending. Once you have jumped through all the hoops, enjoy your new area and explore the world around you after checking the traffic laws, of course.

The actual shipping of the car seems to be the easiest part of the process. It is cheaper to ship on a truck with more than one vehicle in transport, and be sure to check the insurance!

There are many steps to importing/exporting a car, and most of it has to do with tedious paperwork, but the payoff is great in the end. Public transportation is an excellent way to save money, but having your own wheels gives you a sense of freedom.

Lastly, check and double-check all of your paperwork before you, or your car, arrive at the border. It could save you the headache of having to turn around and go back.


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