The Challenges of Bringing Cars into Canada from the US

July 9, 2015:

Many transferees and temporary assignees coming to Canada get confused about how to bring their car from the United States into Canada.

First it is important to remember that there are two tasks required of someone either driving or having their vehicle moved across the border:

a) Tasks at the US border
b) Tasks at the Canadian border

At-a-Glance Tasks to Export an Auto from U.S.:


The EEI (Electronic Export Information) is just information about a person’s car. It is submitted through the Customs AES (Automated Export System), required not only by U.S. Customs but also by the U.S. Census Bureau.

  • All vehicles must be filed via AES 72 hours prior to export.

Crucial! Missing or late electronic export information will lead to vehicles being held at the border and the possible assessment of penalties.

Unfortunately it is not that easy to export one’s car from the United States since October, 2014. You must be registered as an exporter to file through AES and this is not an easy process. There are, however, companies that are licensed as freight forwarders who can file in AES on behalf of anyone exporting a self-propelled vehicle.

The assignee will also have to send the following to the US Customs at the border they will be crossing:

  • Copy of Title (front and back)
  • A copy of passport picture page
  • The ITN number provided by exporter
  • The answers to a series of questions about your car, which can frequently be obtained from the exporter.

Stopping at U.S. Customs at the Border Crossing:

Assignees should make sure they have their original title and a copy of all the information previously emailed to them when they cross.

US Customs will inspect the vehicle and title and give the assignee clearance to export the vehicle into Canada. After exporting from the US the assignee now must import it into Canada.


Importing a vehicle temporarily into Canada makes the assignee (on a work permit) exempt from most Canadian importing requirements. There are two Forms that most relocating to Canada will hear about:

Form 1: Temporary document
Form 2: Official registration with the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) (If the assignee is temporarily transferring to Canada, Form 2 does not apply to them)

  • In most circumstances they may only import a vehicle that they own in full.
  • They may not bring in a vehicle that is leased.
  • They must have in their possession the original or legally certified copy of the title.
  • They may only bring in a financed vehicle if the lien holder provides them with a letter of authorization to remove the vehicle from the United States. It can be very difficult and in most cases impossible that a lien holder will provide a letter of authorization to remove the vehicle from the United States.

1. When the assignee arrives at Canada Customs they should advise them that they are bringing their vehicle TEMPORARILY into Canada.

2. Canada Customs will provide them with a FORM 1 to complete.

IMPORTANT they should not be sent a Form 2.

That is it! When they arrive in Canada they have 45 days to register their vehicle.


By: Michael Deane
Co-Owner and Vice-President, Client Services

We're glad you visited!

Before you go, consider signing up for our FREE E-Book!
How to Bring Top Talent to Canada“.

Follow the link to sign up!