Thursday, September 20, 2007

BMW charging Cdn$500 for Recall Clearance Letter

Submitted by: UCanImport Subscriber
Responses welcome

We just imported a BMW into Canada from the states (north american made) because of the huge dollar diference from Canada to the USA and we've found out that BMW and the RIV have now struck a deal to hinder the importation of BMW's.

BMW has implemented a fee of $500 for their recall letters that the RIV will only recognize sent directly from 1 particular BMW department and address. Even though we have a recall letter and succesfully brought the car accross the border the RIV withholds Canadian Inspection forms until they receive the letter directly from BMW.

Anyway, came across your website in a yahoo article and it's fantastic. I was hoping that you might be able to provide info to your viewers and also to me about how to get around this new development that other manufacturers seem to be jumping on to keep prices in Canada high and get their cut. Thanks


Dale said...

Hi Sonya - thx for your posting on the RIV. I'm also considering buying a new BMW (Mfg in Germany) and am curious to know if your vehicle was new and if so did you face any reluctance of the US dealer to sell it to you and what is the warranty situation you are facing?

Anonymous said...

If BMW Canada is charging this exorbitant fee in an effort to discourage Canadians from buying US vehicles...they are, in fact, attempting to stifle competiton and should be boycotted until they change their tune.


Anonymous said...

I am considering buying a new bmw in NY and importing it to canada but i'm experiencing a lack of interest on the behalf of any US dealers in the area.
The on-line dealer that has a link on this website told me he couldnt find any BMW dealers who would sell me a new x5 but could arrange used vehicles.
Is there a reluctance from US dealers to sell new BMW's for export? Has anyone found a Buffalo area BMW dealer who will sell to Canadians?

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

Sorry, don't really know how to use this thing so thought I'd answer your posts through this.

Dale: No, our X5 is a 2003 and we specifically chose a north american manufactured one to cut down on import costs (extra duty on foreign cars). Being a few years old, there is no extended warranty left on this vehicle so I'm sorry I can't really tell you how good BMW is about things. I do know that through the research we did before deciding to buy used that the warranties ARE supposed to be transferable.

In answer to some of the other posts, I agree that what BMW is pretty shady. We spoke directly to the dealership about the $500 charge and suggested they just start lowering their prices to meet the american ones, especially now given the exchange rate (something retailers in all areas seem reluctant to do unfortunately). Their very pathetic answer was that lowering their prices now would be unfair to those who just bought new/used BMW's this and last year at the higher rates... yup, they actually said that from their head office. Guess being unfair to all other potential customers isn't a problem for them.

With regards to dealerships in the states we had a fantastic experience, but again, we bought a few years used and not directly from a BMW dealership. Dealers push new cars because there's a greater profit margin for them and they'd rather you take the depreciation hit. Some Canadian companies now even make you sign a contract when buying a brand new vehicle that you wont sell it for 1 or 2 years to keep you from flipping it and cutting in to their market. So unless you're really concerned about warranty, brand new isn't always best because BMW North America (US and Canada offices) seem to be banding together to keep profits up. I've even seen articles indicating that instead of lowering Canadian prices to be on par the american dealerships might just raise theirs to be on par... once, again, I really appreciate their sense of "fairness". So make sure to shop around because there are some great deals to be had on the older ones and there seems to be more negotiation room when you don't deal with BMW dealers directly. We got ours all the way from San Antonio and actually found it through an online e-bay dealer. The dealer even picked us up from the airport.

Anyway, hope this answers your questions. Happy Shopping!


This is the letter you will receive from BMW when you request a Recall Clearance Letter:

"Thank you for contacting BMW Canada.

Once the vehicle is here in Canada, you should make an appointment at a BMW Retailer in order to request a Recall Clearance letter, which is required by the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV). The Retailer will conduct a visual inspection of the vehicle to ensure all VIN plates are intact and as well obtain a Car Fax report to check the vehicle's history. The Retailer will verify the recall history and complete any recalls that are required. Once the process has been completed, the Recall Compliance Letter will be issued for a fee of $500. As part of this process the VIN is entered into our Canadian systems, allowing the retailers here in Canada to access the warranty information for a vehicle imported from the United States.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-567-2691 or by email at if you require additional information.

BMW Canada"

Anonymous said...

In the arrangement that BMW Canada has concocted with RIV:BMW Group Canada will only issue an official recall clearance letter once the
required DRL retrofit work has been completed and documented by an authorized
Canadian BMW/MINI Retailer, and this recall clearance letter must be presented to the RIV
in order to properly register the vehicle.

In trying to book an appointment to arrange for this inspection, wait times in Calgary are in the 2 month timeframe, exceeding the 45 day stipulation for approval indicated in the letter. Calls to RIV and BMW Canada have proved fruitless in trying to move this forward. It is simply the penalty that BMW is placing on consumers who choose to buy the cars in the US.

RIV and Transport Canada are turning a blind eye to this practice which now gouges the Canadian Consumer over $1100 in fees to BMW Canada to admit and approve cars built for North America into Canada. BMW's responses simply whitewash the matter by stating: The high sophistication of BMW and MINI vehicle components involves a large
amount of interaction and inter-dependency between the fitted control units of the
vehicle. This highlights the importance of carrying out a proper U.S. to Canadian
conversion of the vehicle to ensure c ompliance of the systems but also to ensure
proper functioning and interaction of all control units. In order to ensure that the
factory recommended procedure is followed properly and without deviation, BMW
Group Canada requires that all retrofits must be carried out exclusively at
authorized Canadian BMW/MINI Retailers.

Until the rules has been altered without notice by Transport Canada on Nov 27, this practice was not in effect. BMW has strong-armed Transport Canada into this arrangement at the detriment of Canadians. I am appalled.

I write this "Anonymously" at present as I just encountered this website and have yet to submit an identity which I will shortly.

Anonymous said...

here here!! It is shameless of BMW to create this hurdle to make it more difficult for us to import from the US. I just brought in a motorcycle, all recalls were done at an authorized dealer prior to coming here. The dealer issued an official document stating all recalls were completed. NOT GOOD ENOUGH as per the RIV. Someone over there simply told me that BMW Canada is the only one that can release the letter at a cost of $500. The local dealer tells me it will be 2 weeks to get the bike in, 2-3 weeks for the letter to get issued. Tick tock towards the max. 45 days. The local dealer said it's basic protectionism since the average loss in sales has been 10-20%. Want a worse scenario? A Ferrari dealer said "hey, you're not my customer, so if you have to wait 2-3 months I guess that's too bad". More reason to believe car dealers are still way down there on the food chain. Posted as anonymous since I have a vehicle waiting for Bloody Mary Works to give their blessing and don't need my paperwork misplaced.

Sigrunn said...

Get this: We live simply, with one car. Our ancient Camry finally broke down a couple of months before we were moving to Canada for jobs as lowly-paid professors (The US public sector, you'll notice, has now pretty much collapsed). We had to find a car just to move up to Canada. A public service lawyer down the street had a basic 9-year-old BMW 325 wagon he was selling, and he'd kept it in good shape, so we innocently bought it. So, we've never emigrated with a car before. At the Canadian border, as we're immigrating, we find out about this car importation thing, with the vehicle inspection. OK. It's another moving cost, but I can understand this. After a couple of weeks of moving into our new house, we initiate the importation process and lo and behold we find out about this $500 BMW recall-clearance letter extortion racket! The BMW representative we called was wholly unsympathetic and told us that "since you knew you were moving to Canada" we were responsible for imagining what crazy fees BMW/Canada would fine us for buying this particular used car. How does charging a couple of immigrating public school teachers $500 for a letter for their one and only, 9-year-old used car--how does this fit the spirit of clamping down on border abuse? Scam! Where's the class-action lawsuit?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I’m just in the process of importing a 2000 BMW Z3 and acquiring the BMW recall letter requiring a 500.00$ fee for information covered under the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Act. After reading the section, Notices of Defect and Recall Campaigns: Part II, Owner Notification on the Transport Canada web site: I see no cost incurred to the consumer in regard to notification of outstanding recalls but it clearly stated that a cost may be incurred for the correction of a recall. As the RIV request is for information only in regard to outstanding recalls BMW is in violation of the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Act when charging a fee for this information. Am I right?



Thanks for your post.

BMW prohibits its dealerships in the US from releasing recall information to any person who intends to export the vehicle out of the United States. Because this transaction is not covered by the CMVS (it happens in the US) it is not a breach of the Act.

When BMW charges you the $500 in Canada for providing this information they word it as a letter of compliance that is issued following a BMW inspection, i.e. a service fee not a recall printout fee.

Finally, there are no fees charged for any manufacturer recalls. The work order you receive will state the recall campaign number and be done at no charge to the vehicle owner.

Seems to me that BMW has its actions covered both in the US and in Canada.