If your looking at importing a motorcycle from the US into Canada,
this is my story. There are many people who have done it, but
getting accurate information can be hard.
Figuring out where to begin and what probably the hardest part. Like everyone else says, if you have your paperwork in order, its fairly straight forward. I'll try to be as detailed as possible. It sounds like a lot of work,
but it is relatively easy.
1.) The fun part: determine what kind of motorcycle you want to import
For me it was a 2008 CBR 1000. No one lets you test drive bikes in
southwestern ontario where I am, well, at least not the big japanese
sport bikes anyways. So I did what everyone else does, ride friends
bikes, go on a demo ride if you can, trade shows, and eventually just
take your chances and go for it.
I went to my local dealership (I have no problem with the dealership
personally), but they wanted over $15,700 + tax + etc for a 2007 CBR
1000RR with 0 miles. They also had a used 2008 cbr 1k, 10k miles, for
$10,500 +tax on consignment (which was on par with other private
listings). I found an identicle 08, same miles, for $6,200 in the
states (at par dollar). Thats a lot of difference.
2.) Make sure it is admissible into canada. All Hondas are no problem
(double check at riv.ca. Genearlly, the site is pretty good telling
you what you need to know, but for me, left a few questions unanswered.
3.) My biggest question before I bought a bike was the following: The
US border requires 72 hour (work days) notice before you bring a
vehicle across. I was required to send them 1.) a US title, signed,
with the sellers name and my name, signed by both parties. 2.) A
signed bill of sale. (the US border does not care about recall
clearance, that is only for the RIV. the US border just wants to make
sure its not stolen and there are no liens on the bike). How do I get
these 2 documents without giving the seller the money? I do not want
to send a random person money without taking the motorcycle with me.
Its a chicken and the egg problem. I also did not want to have to
drive to the states 2x (10 hour round trip), once to inspect the
vehicle, and once to pick it up. The solution required a bit of trust
and faith on both parts. I gave the seller a $300 deposit over paypal,
without ever seeing the bike. He gave me the signed bill of
sale/title. risky? a bit, but for me to drive a 10 hour round trip
@ 35c/km for mileage would be the same. Eiether way it is sunk
capital regardless of the outcome.
4.) Call the border and ask them what the hours of operation are. The
phone number is on the RIV website. The port huron/sarnia border is
only open 8am-8pm M-Th and 8am-noon on a Friday (this may change, so
make SURE you call them). Even the online information I found hard to
trust. The US border is pretty good for getting someone on the phone,
I could not find a phone number for the canadian border, but never
actually needed to call them. Be SURE to ask the US border where you
need to go once you get to the border. Theres a few buildings
at the port huron/sarnia crossing. US customs aren't in the mood to help
lost newbies at the border. More generally, I found if you call
the US border 5 times you'll get 5 different answers to your question,
it was hard to get detailed, accurate information.
4.) You need to show the RIV that the vehicle is clear of recalls
before importing. Forutnately
HONDA has an online VIN search for recall information.
I emailed a copy of the serach result
to the RIV, which was sufficeint for their needs. They replied in 24
hours saying I was clear to import.
5.) Fax a copy of the bill of sale/title to the US border (fax number
is on the riv.ca website), at least 72 business hours before you cross
(this is not negotiable, and the US border is not flexible on this,
don't test them on it). KEEP THE FAX TRANSMISSION REPORT. YOU WILL
NEED THIS AT THE US BORDER.
6.) i called the border to make sure they received the fax. The US
border would not confirm nor deny the reception of the fax. Seriously?
How do I know they didn't run out of toner or the machine died today?
Maybe they had a trainee loading in the paper. who knows. They
really should have a simpler online system, b/c this was a stupid way
of doing things. So, i repeat, keep the transmission confirmation
sheet your fax machine prints once the fax has sent and bring it with
6.) we picked the bike up from the states on a friday, but because we
had to be back over the border before Noon, we stayed the night before
in a motel. Bring a friend, it makes the trip much more fun. We used a
shortbox pickup which worked nicely. Staying the night was a good
idea, otherwise you are inspecting/test driving a bike after a long
drive, you'll be stiff and tired. the bike was in mint condition, not
a scratch on it, as described. The seller was very good, and within an
hour and a half we were on our way. One of the problems the 2008 bikes
have is a bad batch of rings in the early models. Some 2008's burn a
lot of oil. Wasn't the case for this bike, but carefully look at the
exhaust if you buy one. We got the signed original title and bill of
7.) When we called the US border before we left and asked for
directions where to go once we get there, they told us "before you pay the bridge,
park your car where everyone else is parked, and go to the building on
the left". So we pull up to the border, expecting some kind of parking
direction. Nope. Where do we park? So we just pull over and find a
spot on the pavement near one of the dividing walls (is this even
allowed? too bad, we did). Turns out "building on the left" is a
relative direction. Left from what? At the port huron crossing,
it is the building furthest from
the toll booth/bridge. What they really mean is if you are facing
north, it is the building to the left. We literally walked between
lanes and dividers, under a gate arm, through traffic, and beside a loading dock.
There are no signs, which was the biggest problem. You just have to
"know". The door is on the south side of the building. Once inside,
there is a line or people behind a door. Imagine they could have just
had a number system with some chairs and coffee. nope.
8.) be warened, these people are in no mood for any antics. There was
a sign indicating proseuction for leaning or writing on the wall.
i'm not kidding and I wouldn't test them on it. So we go to the back of the
line, theres about 10 people in line. It was only about 25 minutes
and we were through US costoms. The agent we had hated life pretty bad. My
buddy got screamed (and i mean screamed at), b/c he was waiting on the
side and had his thumbs (not his hands, just his thumbs) in his
pockets. Oh, and your not allowed to lean on the counter either.
Someone else got yelled at for doing that. They are an anal bunch.
9.) The first thing the US border officer wanted was our proof of fax.
He did not first check to see if we had sent it, they onlyt wanted to see the "proof
of fax transmision" sheet. So we give it to him.
A bit backwards if you ask me, but what can you do. After
5 minutes of hacking away on the computer, he stamps our title,
throws, yes, throws, it at us and says "LEAVE!". so we leave. I think
he gave us the Form 1 to give to canadian customs.
10.) we cross the bridge and arrive at the canadian border. the border
gard tells us to go to customs/immagration building, so we pull over
to it and park. We go inside, give the girl our paper work, and pay
the GST(not the HST, only the GST, which was weird, but I don't ask).
The canadian side was much friendlier and better run. Once you pay the tax,
MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THE BLUE RECEIPT PAPER FOR THIS, YOU WILL NEED IT
AT THE MTO! THEY WILL NOT REPRINT IT (at lesast thats what they told us). The
canadian border will give you a FORM 2. You bring this to Canadian Tire
for the federal inspection once you get home.
when we went to leave, Canadian Customs went through our entire truck,
backpacks, paper work, everything. They asked us to proove
conversation with the seller. I kept a copy of the dialog. If i didn't
have it I don't think it would have mattered, but i'm sure more
questions would have ensued. I can't blame them, they are just doing their
job, it was a slow day there.
11.) get home, take FORM 2 and the bike to canadian tire, they will do
a federal inspection (day time running lights, make sure guages are in
kph, and a few other checks. it only took 5 minutes. you ALSO need a
provincial/safety inspection. the RIV site doesn't make this clear.
There is no etesting for motorcycles. Canadian Tire will send Form 2 to
the RIV, you don't need to worry about that part, since they will
keep the form.
12.) 2 weeks later you will get a RIV sticker in the mail to affix to
the motorcycle. ugly huge thing, but what can you do.
13.) add insurance, i just put parking insurance on until the spring. you'll need an insurance
policy number to register the bike (i do not know if the MTO actually verifies this or not, but you don't need any proof, just the policy number)
13.) go to the MTO with all of your paperwork, US title, GST receipt, bill of sale, provincial/safety inspection, pay the rest of the tax (PST), and your all set.
14.) Bring the new ontario ownership to your insurance company, they will want a copy.
All in all, I would do this again in a heartbeat. For the $$
difference, it was definately worth it. Just make sure you have your
paperwork in order. I hope this helps someone.