How To Import A Car Into The U.S. From Canada
This page explores some of the finer details of importing a car into the U.S. from Canada. Though it can be a headache to import a car from some countries—or not allowed at all—it’s a relatively pain-free process coming from Canada. That said, there are some important things to know, especially those that relate to U.S. emissions standards and safety protocols.
Any vehicle imported into the United States must conform to the standards set forth by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation. Cars that do not meet the standards may be imported into the U.S. on a temporary basis while changes are made to make them compliant. The following are the two forms you will need to submit in order to verify you are importing a compliant vehicle:
- EPA Form 3520-1*
- DOT Form HS-7*
EPA Form 3520-1 is a standard declaration document that must be submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the importation of any of any motor vehicle. There are exceptions granted to those vehicles that are new and imported by the original manufacturer of the vehicle. Additionally, this exception only applies to those that meet EPA emissions standards and have an accompanying certificate of conformity. It’s important to note that each vehicle being imported must have a separate form submitted. You can view and print a PDF of the form by clicking here.
The DOT Form HS-7 is also a declaration document, but it must be submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation. This form, like EPA Form 3520-1, applies to any motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment that is imported from another country. The form includes basic information like the made, model, and year of the vehicle, as well as the VIN and information related to customs and the port of entry. If you are submitting the form as the importer of the vehicle, you’ll also have to provide your personal information and that of the company handling the shipment. To view and print a copy of DOT Form HS-7, you can view a PDF of the document here.
*See the resources at the bottom of the page for more information about these forms and how to submit them.
There are exceptions to the EPA requirements for some vehicles. This includes those that are more than 25 years old with no modifications, as well as vehicles that are imported on a temporary basis of no more than one year. As of this writing, you are permitted to drive in the U.S. with a Canadian driver’s license and plates while operating a temporarily imported car.
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For foreign vehicles permanently imported into the U.S., you will likely need a letter of compliance from the manufacturer. Some cars may have a label stating that it meets U.S. emissions standards, but the majority of vehicles outside of the United States do not, in which case the compliance letter is required.
Depending on the state you’re shipping your car to, you may also be required to complete a smog check upon initial registration.
Cars manufactured in Canada can generally be brought into the U.S. duty-free, but there may be some exceptions. For most standard sized vehicles, the applicable duty is 2.5%. To qualify for duty-free car shipping to the U.S., your must arrive with your car; it cannot be stored for later arrival without paying a duty.
If you have questions about importing a car to the U.S. from Canada, contact us today to find out how we can help! We offer free price quotes with no obligation required and we’re happy to answer your questions. Call us today at the number at the top of the page!
Canada To U.S. Vehicle Import Resources
EPA Import Restrictions - Information about the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for vehicle emissions. Topics covered include standards for all types of vehicles, as well as engines, generators, and gardening tools.
Customs & Border Protection Information – If you plan to import a car into the U.S., you’ll need to acquaint yourself with the procedure and legal requirements. This resource specifically addresses these issues as they relate to importing a motor vehicle, including contact information for the various agencies involved in the process.
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.
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