Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Transport Canada Admissibility Listing Currently Not Available

If you are trying to import a vehicle from the US, you must first check the admissibility listing at Transport Canada's web site through www.riv.ca

At this time, Transport Canada is modifying its web site and the link to the list of admissible vehicles is not working. RIV informs us that this is a temporary issue and you will have access to the admissibility list shortly.

If you are in a hurry and would like to receive a copy by e-mail please telephone RIV at 888-848-8240.

Happy Holidays to all.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Import a Volvo from the US

Access Recall Information Online at Volvo.com

If you are importing a new or pre-owned Volvo vehicle from the US, you are able to review and print off recall clearance information from the Volvo Owners Info section on the corporate website.

To do so, you must register by entering your contact info and VIN number. You will then have access to all your vehicle information such as:
  • Owner's Manuals
  • A library of documents covering current and past models
  • Service and maintenance information
  • Warranty information
  • Accessory information
You can choose to submit the recall information to RIV using the pre-clearance format indicated in the importing guide, or you may opt to wait until you vehicle is in Canada before providing this information to RIV.

For more information about importing a Volvo vehicle into Canada, read the UCanImport blog or visit UCanImport.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Import a Vehicle from the US

Payment Options at CBSA

If you are importing a vehicle from the United States you will have to pay GST and duty (if applicable) at the Canadian port of entry. Your options include:

1. Certified cheque - any amount is accepted. Remember to make your certified cheque amount just less than you think your overall payment to CBSA will be, and make up any shortfall by using credit (up to $500), personal cheque (up to $2,500) or debit (unlimited).

2. Visa or MasterCard up to $500 at most ports, although some will accept more.

3. Personal cheque up to $2,500.

4. Debit card up to any amount.

If you are using a Customs broker to clear your vehicle through CBSA, you will make your payments to them in advance and they will pay CBSA on the date of importation.

To speak with a CBSA officer, call toll-free:
  • Service in English:
    1 800 461-9999
  • Service in French:
    1 800 959-2036
For all other expenses related to importing a vehicle from the US, please use the UCanImport worksheet provided within the importing guide.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Letter of Admissibility Fee Refunded

Informed Importer Receives Refund From BMW

Comments from UCanImport reader:

I am pleased to announce that I was able to get my $350.00 for the Letter of Admissibility refunded from BMW/ Mini.

After reading the UCanImport Blog, it prompted me to re-look at the RIV admissibility list and see the changes. Armed with the downloaded RIV info, and the fact that the Mini I am importing has not made it to the border yet, I contacted the issuing Mini dealer and stated that the letter is useless and I would like a refund placed on file towards my required modifications. They complied! The total mods are still going to be $1750.

Thanks for the new info on being able to get the Recall letter from a US dealer, that will save me another $500!!

I love this site!


UCanImport says:

Congratulations on your savings! We are pleased to have been a part of your experience and thank you for sharing these valuable comments with our readers nationwide

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Inspections for Vehicles Imported from US

Successfully Completed Inspection Report Must Be Faxed To RIV

In an effort to keep your importation process moving along smoothly, please ensure that your inspection centre sends RIV a copy of the successfully completed inspection report and Form 2 by faxing it to 1-888-346-9416.

If the inspection centre does not normally complete this step, you will have to do it yourself to receive your Canadian Compliance sticker from Transport Canada.

As mentioned in the importing guide, please make photocopies of all your importing documents, including the completed and stamped Form 2 after the federal inspection is completed. In the event that RIV doesn't receive the fax from the inspection centre, and you have given this form to your insurance agent, you will still have a back up copy that you can send in.

Many thanks to a UCanImport subscriber who provided these additional hints to make your importing experience more streamlined.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Duty and Tax Relief for Returning Residents Importing Vehicles

Import Up To $10,000 Duty And Tax Free

If you have been a resident of another country for a minimum period of 1 year without any return trips into Canada during this time, you will qualify to bring up to $10,000 worth of goods back to Canada tax and duty free.

If the vehicle you purchased while abroad is valued at over $10,000 and was made outside of North America, you will be charged duty and tax on the amount exceeding $10,000.

NOTE: all vehicles with a VIN beginning with 1,2,3,4 or 5 may be imported duty free.

For more information on this program, please contact CBSA at 1-800-461-9999 and press "0" to speak to a helpful officer.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Letter of Admissibility Waived For Volvo Imports From US

RIV List Updated To Show All Volvo Models Admissible To Canada

We are pleased to report that as of today importers of Volvo vehicles from the US will not require to apply for a Letter of Admissibility. The RIV list has been updated to that all 1993 to 2009 Volvo models are admissible to Canada.

In January 2008, Volvo Canada refused to provide admissibility information on the RIV website stating that they would only provide a Letter of Admissibility when requested by the importer.

As of today, importers may obtain admissibility information from www.riv.ca and separate Letter of Admissibility is not required from the Volvo Canada head office.

Previously, the requirement for a Letter of Admissibility made it difficult for importers to negotiate on vehicle purchases in the US as they required advance written confirmation from Volvo Canada that the vehicle in question would be allowed to enter Canada. In addition, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) would request proof of admissibility prior to allowing the vehicle to be imported into Canada.

Waiving this requirement means importers simply have to verify the admissibility list before completing their negotiations and purchase in the US.

Mercedes-Benz Imports Exempt From Letter of Admissibility

RIV List Updated To Show Admissible List of Mercedes-Benz Models

We are pleased to report that as of today importers of Mercedes-Benz vehicles from the US will not require to apply for a Letter of Admissibility. The RIV list has been updated to show which Mercedes-Benz models are admissible to Canada.

Importers may obtain admissibility information from www.riv.ca or from Mercedes-Benz Canada at the following web address: www.mercedes-benz.ca/admissibility

A separate Letter of Admissibility is not required from the manufacturer's head office.

Previously, the requirement for a Letter of Admissibility made it difficult for importers to negotiate on vehicle purchases in the US as they required advance written confirmation from Mercedes-Benz Canada that the vehicle in question would be allowed to enter Canada. In addition, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) would request proof of admissibility prior to allowing the vehicle to be imported into Canada.

Waiving this requirement means importers simply have to verify the admissibility list before completing their negotiations and purchase in the US.

Letter of Admissibility Not Required For BMW Imports

RIV List Updated To Show All BMW Models Are Admissible

We are pleased to report that as of today, the RIV list shows that all 1993 to 2009 BMW models except the 1995 M3 are admissible to Canada and do not require a Letter of Admissibility from BMW Canada.

If you have imported a BMW and paid $350 for the letter of admissibility, please follow the instructions on http://www.ucanimport.com/lawsuit.aspx to participate in the class action lawsuit launched earlier this year. The lawsuit alleges that these fees charged by BMW are unnecessary, unlawful, and arbitrary.

This letter is no longer a requirement and the importer does not have to pay a fee to determine if the vehicle may be legally imported into Canada. A complete list of admissible vehicles is available at www.riv.ca

This is a great victory for the vehicle importer.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Volvo Safety Inspection Costs

RIV has no say or authority over manufacturers' methods

Communication between concerned importer and RIV follows:


From: RD
Sent: July 3, 2008 2:30 PM
To: RIV Info
Subject: safety inspection gouging by Canadian dealerships

Dear Sir/Madam

I’m sure I am not the first to write to you on this subject but I thought I would add my name to the list of those concerned. The Canadian retailers of specific European manufactured cars are using the RIV’s importation programme to legitimize an artificial monopoly by requiring that the safety inspection of US imported vehicles be run through their service departments rather than by any generally qualified inspection centre. One retailer is charging as much as $2495.00 for a 2-3 hour inspection that, prior to March 2008, was charging roughly $250 for the same service. In speaking with individuals at retail stores associated with that car manufacturer, no one can reasonably justify the exorbitant increase except to say they are trying to re-coup the sales losses they are experiencing due to the increased importation of vehicles. It has NOTHING to do with a change in the inspection service.

Please take this seriously and consider mandating any approved inspection agency as qualified to perform inspections on passenger cars rather than allowing the original manufacturer to dictate who can inspect the cars. In my opinion, this is likely to get far worse before it gets better if it’s not managed.

For a change, we in Canada have a strong dollar and as a result we have many benefits we haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing for a very long time. Please don’t allow these car dealerships to use the RIV to take away one of those benefits.

Kind regards


From: Gray, Cameron
Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2008 12:57 PM
To: RD

Subject: RE: safety inspection gouging by Canadian dealerships

I sympathise with the frustration you must feel with the difficulties you are having in getting your vehicle inspected and registered. Please note that the RIV's processes and requirements for issuing an inspection form are independent of the manufacturer's methods or conditions for issuing certifications of admissibility and recall clearance.

The RIV has always required that acceptable recall documentation come from the manufacturer in order to ensure that a vehicle will meet Canadian safety compliance. Furthermore, the issuance of an inspection form has also been dependent on vehicle admissibility. The www.riv.ca website shows that these requirements are applicable to passenger cars and multipurpose vehicles made by all manufacturers.

The RIV's mandate is to merely certify that US specification vehicles being imported into Canada meet all applicable Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, through inspection, proof of recall clearance, and proof of modification. Unfortunately, it has no say or authority over the methods a manufacturer chooses to provide proof of recall clearance or admissibility.

I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.


Cameron Gray
Registrar of Imported Vehicles


UCanimport advises that there is currently a way to bypass the "safety inspection" fee, but cautions that manufacturers may dream up new ways to stall importations from the US.

What is critical is that manufacturers' representative dealerships charge fair prices for their work. In our opinion $2,450 for an inspection constitutes unfair pricing and extortion, and a violation of importers' rights.

While Transport Canada won't step in to resolve this money-grab, we fear that other manufacturers' will sense an opportunity and want to join in.

Continue to seek fair treatment and keep the limelight on these unfair practices.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Manufacturers' Policies Frustrating Importers

Special Meeting For Importers Sponsored by NAATA

The North American Automobile Trade Association (NAATA) is holding a special meeting on July 17, 2008 at 2pm at the Credit Valley Golf & Country Club boardroom in Mississauga, Ontario.

If you have been affected by manufacturers' policies that have forced you to pay exorbitant costs or entirely prevented you from purchasing a certain vehicle from the US, this meeting is targeted to you.

To participate in the meeting or for more information, please contact Brian Osler at brian@naata.org.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bumper Standards Harmonized!

Good news for vehicle importers.

Today, the Government of Canada announced the amendment to the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) whereby Canadian bumper standards for passenger vehicles would be harmonized with similar safety standards from the US and Europe.

Canadian importers have been impatiently awaiting this new regulation since the proposed amendment was announced in March 2008.

"This amendment will therefore allow vehicles manufactured for the United States that were deemed inadmissible due to differing bumper requirements to become admissible since bumper modifications will no longer be required."

Read the full amendment: http://canadagazette.gc.ca/partII/2008/20080625/html/sor199-e.html

Import an Acura from the US

If you plan to import an Acura vehicle from the US, use these tips to simplify the process:

1. For recall information, register on the Acura Ownerlink website at http://owners.acura.com/registration/registerstepone.aspx and create an account to access all kinds of information about your particular vehicle.

2. Print off the recall information (showing no recalls outstanding) and submit it to RIV with your Form 1, or in advance as per our suggestion in the importing guide, and you will receive the federal inspection form.

3. If there are recalls outstanding for your vehicle, have them completed (at no charge to you) and submit the work order to RIV with the recall campaign information.

4. RIV has access to recall information for Acura vehicles, but will not release the federal inspection form to you if there are any recalls outstanding. So, to save yourself the hassles, get this information pro actively by following our instructions.

Enjoy the savings on your imported Acura!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Obtain a California Trip Permit

If you are importing a vehicle from California, you will need to have a trip permit issued by the DMV for private transactions. To locate your nearest office check out this listing http://www.dmv.ca.gov/fo/offices/toc_fo.htm

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Import a Vehicle From California

California is very specific about the process of purchasing a vehicle within the state. However, our communication with the California Board of Equalization has confirmed that if you are purchasing a motor vehicle from a private seller in California, with the intention of leaving the state without engaging in any side trips, you do not have to pay the state sales tax or the use tax.

To contact the immensely helpful folks at the BOE, use (916) 445-6662.


1. If you purchase a vehicle in California with the intention of exporting it out of the US, you will have to obtain a paper title (pink slip) from the seller.

2. If you have to pay off a lien in order to receive a Title certificate (required to export your vehicle out of the US), you should review the DMV’s Electronic Lien and Title Program (ELT): http://www.dmv.ca.gov/vr/vr_info.htm#BM2524

3. For a listing of California City and County Sales Taxes for vehicle purchases from dealership, please see this database: http://www.boe.ca.gov/cgi-bin/rates.cgi

4. If you purchase a vehicle from a dealership and have it transported out of state you will be exempt from the state tax.

5. Once you have the Title certificate, you must submit it along with the Bill of Sale, and a lien release if applicable to the US border office a minimum of 72 hours prior to exporting your vehicle. For more information on US vehicle export requirements review Border Crossing Information

Friday, May 16, 2008

Import a Jaguar from the US

If you are planning to import a Jaguar vehicle from the US, please note the following information:

1. All 2003 to 2008 models are admissible to Canada and may be imported. A separate Letter of Admissibility is not required.

2. A Recall Clearance Letter can be obtained by contacting your local dealership in Canada. To find your nearest dealer, Click Here

3. Modifications required for Jaguar vehicles may be costly and you are urged to contact your local dealership with the VIN of your proposed import. They will be able to give you an estimate of the costs you can expect to pay to make your vehicle Canadian Safety Standard compliant.

4. When the modifications are completed, Jaguar will issue a Letter of Compliance. This Letter of Compliance will enable the release of Form 2 from RIV and allow you to complete your inspections and registration. All steps are detailed in the UCanImport guide

If anyone would like to share their Jaguar importing experiences, please post them here. We encourage you to share costs, nature of mods required, satisfaction with dealership service and any other points of interest.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Leasing Option Now Available for Canadian Vehicle Importers

UCanImport is pleased to announce that it has negotiated a leasing option for UCanImport Subscribers with one of Canada's largest fleet leasing corporations!

Leases are now available for new or pre-owned passenger cars and trucks that are imported from the USA into all provinces except Quebec.

Previously, leasing was not a purchase option for Canadians looking to purchase and import a vehicle from the United States. For many, this meant that importing was not an option because it required that they purchase the vehicle outright (cash) or through a line of credit or pre-negotiated loan with their local bank.

However, with UCanImport's leasing option, all UCanImport Subscribers can now explore the wider choice of new and used vehicles, as well as preferential pricing available in the United States, knowing that they have leasing as a purchase payment option.

So... Why Lease Instead of Purchase?

First and foremost... if you can save 20% to 50% on the vehicle purchase price simply by importing the vehicle from the United States, these savings would more than offset your vehicle leasing expenses!

Improved Cash Flow - When you buy a vehicle, you pay for the entire cost of the vehicle, regardless of how much you use it. When you lease, you only pay for a portion of the vehicle's cost, which is the amount you use during the term of the lease, as well as an interest amount charged by the leasing firm. Leasing can provide significant cash flow savings (which can then be better invested in appreciating assets) AND it enables you to drive the vehicle of your choice! With improved cash flow, you may even wish to upgrade to a newer and/or higher end vehicle make or model.

To learn more, fill out the short online form now available at:

A leasing representative will then contact you to assist in determining if a vehicle lease is the right solution for your vehicle importation. Alternatively, you can call (250) 883-0188 (9:00am to 5:00pm Pacific Time only, please).

Zabin Somani (G.M.)
and the UCanImport "Pit Crew"

UCanImport Publications
"Driven by Knowledge"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Import a Vehicle From Texas

If you are importing a vehicle from the Lone Star state, you will need to understand a couple of unique Texas DMV requirements.

1. In Texas, simply signing off on the back of the Title certificate does not convey a transfer of ownership. To complete a transfer of ownership from the vehicle seller to the buyer, you will need to read this page on the Texas DMV site http://www.dot.state.tx.us/services/vehicle_titles_and_registration/vehicle_titles.htm Receipt of a Title in your name can take up to 2 weeks, so expect a short delay.

2. To become exempt from paying the state tax on the vehicle purchase - unless you have to register the vehicle in the state to take advantage of a dealership purchase incentive - you will have to complete this form http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/taxforms/14-312.pdf

Happy importing!

Importing a Motorhome from the US

If you are importing a motorhome from the US into Canada, please note that your vehicle will require daytime running lights to pass the Federal Inspection.

We have learned that Canadian Tire is not equipped to complete this activation for you (but encourage you to contact your local shop just in case), and that you will have to complete this modification at a mechanic that is willing to work on imported motorhomes.

In Red Deer, Alberta, Mid-Alta Motors will install daytime running lights for $250, and do an OOP for a further $250. To contact Mid-Alta use (403)343-3612. The address is 2319 Taylor Dr, Bldg 9, Red Deer, T4R 2R1. Tell your friends about this garage as they are willing to work on imported motorhomes.

We thank our UCanImport subscriber for this time-saving information and hope that many of our readers will benefit.

BMW Instrument Cluster Changeover on US Imports

If you are importing a BMW vehicle from the US you may wish to confirm if your vehicle will have to undergo the instrument cluster changeover.

To do so you will require to know the BMW Model codes and to which model they refer. You can refer to this table provided by Turner Motorsport to verify the model codes, after reviewing the BMW Service Bulletin referring to this cluster modification.

We thank a UCanImport subscriber for forwarding this link which we hope will save importers a lot of energy in determining if their vehicle will require the modification.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Import a Mercedes-Benz from the US

Recall Clearance Letter May Be Required

Mercedes-Benz importers are reporting that when they arrive at a Canadian dealership to complete their modification work that a number of dealerships are asking for a Recall Clearance Letter. Up until very recently the modifications, which range in price from $1,500 to $7,000, would result in a Letter of Compliance, which would also indicate the status of any recalls on the vehicle.

It seems that this extra step is now necessary. So, in addition to requesting a VIN specific Letter of Admissibility after reviewing this admissible vehicle listing provided by Mercedes-Benz Canada at http://www.mercedes-benz.ca/index.cfm?id=6872 you will need to contact MB USA to request this letter.

We are pleased to see that a number of 2008 models have been added to the list.

How To Request A Recall Clearance Letter

To receive a Recall Clearance Letter from MB USA, you will need to fax a letter to (201) 476-6213 along with proof of ownership in the form of a Title, Registration or Bill of Sale. You should also indicate that the recall information is required to complete an export out of the US and import into Canada.

Remember to provide your full contact information and your preferred method of delivery, i.e. fax or mail. Give yourself up to 10 days to receive this letter. To telephone MB USA use 1-800-367-6372. At this time there is no charge for this letter.

MB Regional Reps.

Further to our blog postings about the MB inspector, we have learned that the correct term for this position is "Regional Representative". There are in fact 5 reps in Canada and their areas are allocated as such: Western Canada (1 rep.), Central Canada (Alberta, Sask., Manitoba - 1 rep.), Ontario (2 reps.), Quebec and Maritimes (1 rep.).

The regional representatives are charged with 2 tasks: 1. to verify the modifications to confirm that they were completed to MB specs; 2. to audit the dealership charges for the modifications to confirm that they are consistent with the work performed.

The MB dealership in Canada who will be performing your modifications can contact their Regional Reps to confirm their schedules and give you a time line for their arrival in your city. We have heard accounts of waits up to one month, but this sounds unreasonable and manipulative. We urge you to have your local MB dealership and have them schedule the inspector's visit based on their time line quoted for your modifications to be completed.

We look forward to receiving your comments and hope that our research saves you both time, and money.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Import a Chrysler Crossfire from the US into Canada

Understanding Requirements for Bumper Modifications

If you are looking to import a 2004 to 2008 Chrysler Crossfire from the US, you will have to factor in the price of bumper modifications. Until bumper standards between the US and Canada are harmonized, here is what you can expect:

RIV Website

The RIV listing for Chrysler shows two asterisks for these models indicating "that the vehicle in question will require modifications to the existing bumper(s) before it can be registered and licensed. Some vehicles can be readily modified by installing the appropriate Canadian parts. However, some vehicles cannot be readily modified and may require comprehensive and expensive modifications."

Approximate Costs*

Bumper modifications: $1,000
DRLs: $300
*for the 2005 model

Part Numbers*

Light Switch Module #5098639AA
Right Front Energy Absorber #5102547AA
Left Front Energy Absorber #5102545AA
Centre Rear Energy Absorber # 5102556AA
Right Rear Energy Absorber #5102554AA
Left Rear Energy Absorber #5102553AA

*for the 2005 model

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Import a New Vehicle from the US into Canada

Important Tip To Protect The New Vehicle Purchaser

If you are purchasing a brand new vehicle in the US, particularly one that the dealerships are not allowed to sell you because of manufacturer restrictions - think Audi, Acura, Honda, Toyota, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volvo etc - you can use this tip to protect yourself while getting the car you want.

1. Select the new car and engage a US resident to complete the purchase for you using their US address;

2. Have the purchaser register the vehicle with the DMV and request a Title certificate, ensuring that they put your name as the lienholder;

3. As the lienholder, you will receive the Original Title for the vehicle. This means that you are the owner of the vehicle and the vehicle cannot be sold or transferred without your knowledge;

4. Ask the purchaser to provide you with a Bill of Sale showing the sale of the vehicle from them to you. At the same time, have them supply you with the Bill of Sale that they received from the dealership as this may be required for additional proof of purchase price by the CBSA;

5. Use the Original Title with your name, the Bill of Sale from the "purchaser", and the Vehicle Export Worksheet to submit your documents to the US CBP office where you plan to export your vehicle.

6. Use the Original Title, both Bills of Sale (dealership to purchaser, and purchaser to you) at the CBSA to have the duty, GST, A/C Levy calculated.

Why is this tip useful?

1. It allows you to rest easy at night knowing you hold the original Title to the new vehicle;

2. It allows you to circumvent the manufacturers' selling restrictions imposed on their dealerships;

3. It can be used in any State and keeps you protected when someone else is in charge of buying your car;

How can you increase the value of this tip?

1. Choose to purchase your new vehicle in a State that doesn't have a sales tax, like Oregon;

2. Use your personal exemption of up to $750 to lower the purchase price of the vehicle and therfore your GST and duty payable.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Import a BMW from the US

BMW Refusing To Issue Letters of Admissibility

We have just been informed that BMW Canada is refusing to issue letters of admissibility for some models that, prior to the policy change of November 26th, 2007, were listed as admissible.

A recent purchaser of a BMW
2006 Z4 3.0si was denied a Letter of Admissibility even after being told by the dealership that the vehicle would be admitted to Canada.

As of November 23, 2007, just 3 days before BMW changed its importing policies, they had already informed Transport Canada and RIV that the 2006 Z4 was admissible to Canada.

Here is a link to the historical RIV lists very kindly provided by CarsWithoutBorders.com


Now if this doesn't show all importers that BMW refuses - ignores, rather - to honour its own information to Transport Canada and cannot be trusted to do the right thing for its customers, I don't know what does.

Do not purchase a BMW vehicle without a "subject to receipt of a Letter of Admissibility" clause in your purchase agreement.

And if we don't speak out against these above the law decisions that the company keeps making, we are knowingly putting ourselves in harms way. If they do this with a vehicle that was already deemed admissible once, you can be sure they will keep doing it.

Why is Transport Canada sleeping at the wheel? (pun fully intended!)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Transport Canada Not Responsible For Auto Manufacturers Importing Policies

Manufacturers Ultimately Determine Whether Vehicles Comply And How The Vehicles May Be Modified Should They Not Comply

Submitted by : Mr. Jeff Newton - BMW Importer

Below is the response received from the Office of Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to Mr. Newton's inquiry:

Dear Mr. Newton:

Your Member of Parliament, Mr. James Moore, has forwarded to the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, a copy of your e-mail of February 15, 2008, regarding the importation of vehicles from the United States. Minister Cannon has asked me to reply on his behalf.

By way of background, I should first mention that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA), in effect since 1971, regulates the manufacture and importation of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to reduce the risk of death and injury, and damage to property and the environment.

The MVSA requires that all vehicles imported into Canada comply with the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations and associated Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSSs). However, subsection 7(2) of the MVSA provides an exception whereby vehicles purchased in the United States that are not in full compliance with the CMVSSs, may be imported into Canada, provided the vehicles were originally manufactured to comply with all applicable U.S. Federal Safety Standards, and provided they can be modified to comply with the CMVSSs. In addition, once modified, the vehicles must be inspected by a designated authority of Transport Canada. In this regard, in 1995, Transport Canada contracted with a private company to establish the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) program to develop and operate a system of inspection and certification of vehicles imported from the United States.

As a convenience to both importers and manufacturers, the RIV posts a List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States on its website at www.riv.ca . The list includes many 2008 model-year vehicles that are admissible for importation. It is the manufacturers' responsibility to certify that vehicles comply with Canadian safety standards or to certify that the vehicles can be modified to meet these standards. The manufacturers are also responsible for providing and updating the admissibility information. I should emphasize that the list is not mandated by law; rather, it is an administrative tool meant to assist in the processing of imported vehicles. Although manufacturers are not obligated to submit admissibility information, most do so voluntarily, since otherwise, they would have to deal with importers on an individual basis.
Because the information provided by manufacturers varies periodically, prospective Canadian importers must exercise caution and inform themselves thoroughly on all aspects of purchasing a vehicle in the United States, including warranty coverage, before purchasing a U.S. vehicle. Any inquiries about the accuracy of the information the List contains must therefore be addressed to the manufacturers directly.

For a variety of reasons, some manufacturers are reluctant to provide vehicle admissibility information to importers, the RIV and Transport Canada. In addition, some manufacturers are charging a fee to importers who ask for a letter specifying that there are no outstanding recalls on the vehicle they wish to import. Transport Canada has no authority to dictate to those manufacturers when and how this information ought to be supplied, or to request that they provide the recall information free-of-charge, since the manufacturers are normally located in the United States, and the vehicles in question are initially produced for the U.S. market.

I should note that neither Transport Canada nor the RIV has access to the recall information of manufacturers that produce vehicles for the U.S. market. The information in the department's database relates only to vehicles produced for the Canadian market and originally sold in Canada. In many instances, the Canadian company and the U.S. company are two separate entities and do not share recall information. Therefore, it is important to firmly establish, in a reliable manner, that there are no outstanding recalls on vehicles purchased at the retail level in the United States and imported into Canada. The verification is specific to each particular vehicle and is performed by manufacturers using the Vehicle Identification Number.

There have been comments that some companies have refused to honour their U.S. warranties in Canada, have instructed their U.S.-based dealers not to sell to Canadian customers, or have delayed-or not responded at all-in providing a determination regarding the admissibility of their U.S. vehicles after September 2007. There have also been comments on price differences and what are alleged to be captive markets. I must emphasize that the MVSA does not mandate or regulate warranties, nor does it deal with the pricing of vehicles by manufacturers and importers. All of these issues pertain to company-specific policies, and these companies must be contacted directly to obtain additional details and clarifications.
In some cases, manufacturers are insisting that the modifications necessary to activate or install daytime running lights be performed by their authorized dealers and, in some cases, are also insisting that the instrument cluster be changed. The MVSA only requires that the importer ensure that the vehicle is made compliant with the applicable safety standards and is not specific as to who must do the work. However, the basic principle of compliance under the MVSA is a regime of self-certification whereby the manufacturer ultimately determines whether its vehicles comply with the CMVSSs and how the vehicles may be modified should they not comply.

A manufacturer can determine that various components must be replaced, and that such work can only be done by a qualified authorized dealer in order to ensure compliance, and Transport Canada is not in a position to challenge such a policy. The cost associated with such modifications is also beyond the control of Transport Canada. Concerns regarding such costs would be best addressed to Industry Canada's Office of Consumers Affairs or to the appropriate provincial/territorial Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

I trust that the foregoing has clarified the Minister's position with respect to this matter. Thank you for writing.

Yours truly,

Andrew Walasek
Special Assistant - Ontario and Western Canada

c.c. Office of Mr. James Moore, M.P.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bumper Standards On Way To Becoming Harmonized

Proposal Would Have A Positive Impact On Cross Border Vehicle Trade

Vol. 142, No. 12 — March 22, 2008

Regulations Amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Bumpers)
Issue and objectives

The proposed amendment to section 215 of Schedule IV of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (see footnote 1) would modify the Canadian safety standard for bumpers via incorporation by reference of similar safety standards from the United States and Europe. This would have the effect of aligning the testing speeds with those of Europe and the United States and provide manufacturers the option of meeting the European safety requirements or the safety and no damage provisions of the United States. This proposed amendment would result in one consistent set of globally regulated test speed requirements for the design of bumpers, which would simplify the task of designing bumpers for vehicles destined for North American and European markets. This proposal would also facilitate the introduction in Canada of the impending Global Technical Regulation for pedestrian safety, being developed under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission of Europe (UN/ECE).

Description and rationale

Canada and the United States introduced safety standards for bumpers in the early 1970s. When the Canadian and the U.S. regulations were originally introduced, they were harmonized with a test speed of 5 mph (8 km/h) for front and rear impacts and 3 mph (4.8 km/h) for corner impact tests. However, in 1979, the United States added more stringent requirements that included cosmetic damage criteria, while maintaining the (harmonized) test speed and the original safety components damage protection requirements. In 1982, the United States reduced the speed requirements to 2.5 mph (4 km/h) for front and rear impacts and 1.5 mph (2.4 km/h) for corner impacts, and maintained their cosmetic and safety damage requirements.

In 1983, when the Canadian government proposed an amendment to harmonize the test speeds with those of the U.S. requirements (i.e. 4 and 2.4 km/h), many Canadian stakeholders, such as the public, provincial and territorial governments, media and the insurance industry, were against the proposed test speed reduction. As a result, the harmonization of test speed requirements was not pursued; thus for the past 26 years Canada has had a unique higher speed bumper test requirement for passenger cars.

This higher speed has resulted in some vehicle models not being available to Canadian consumers. In addition, in this period there have been some vehicles sold at the retail level in the United States that have been inadmissible for importation into Canada as they have not met the Canadian bumper requirements.

Manufacturers are presently more concerned with the ability to design vehicles capable of concomitantly meeting the unique higher Canadian test speeds and future pedestrian safety requirements that are being developed internationally, rather than the limitation of vehicle models available on the Canadian market. The Global Technical Regulation is aimed at reducing pedestrian fatalities by requiring that the front upper portion of vehicles be designed to reduce head contact forces when a pedestrian strikes the vehicle. This is accomplished by providing space between the vehicle exterior parts, such as the hood and upper fenders, and the solid structure of the vehicle, such as the motor or frame. In addition to reducing head injuries, the Global Technical Regulation on pedestrian safety will require that the bumpers of vehicles be designed to reduce lower leg injuries.

Manufacturers have strongly noted that a conflict exists in meeting the requirements of the three existing world regulations, ECE regulation number 42, Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 215, and Part 581, Title 49 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations. As the European and Canadian requirements are aimed at improving safety, the intention at the time of introduction of the requirements was to protect the safety equipment of the vehicle, such as the lights, from damage in a low speed collision. The intention of the current U.S. bumper standard is to reduce damage to the bumper system and thus provide American consumers with a lower bumper damage replacement and repair cost, while also maintaining the integrity of the safety systems. Manufacturers have noted that from a design standpoint, there is a conflict between meeting the no damage requirement of the United States, the higher test speed in Canada with no damage to the safety systems and the need for bumpers to be designed to meet impending pedestrian safety requirements. Manufacturers have indicated that it will not be possible to meet all three requirements at once. Further, they have suggested that they would be able to meet the U.S. lower speed and no damage requirements and the pedestrian safety requirements with one design.

This proposal would have a positive impact on international trade as the Canadian requirement for bumper testing would be amended to be the same as the requirements in Europe and in the United States. This amendment would assist Canada with its obligation under the Global Agreement made under the auspices of the UN/ECE. Canada’s commitment to review the Canadian bumper test speed requirements was noted in the summary document of the Global Technical Regulation working group on pedestrian safety that is available at the following site: www.unece.org/trans/doc/2006/wp29grsp/ps-186e.doc.

It is important to note that the design of the bumper systems and the percentage of passenger cars sold in Canada have changed significantly since the introduction of the bumper requirement in the early 1970s. In 1970, almost 83% of the vehicles sold were classified as passenger cars. Today, that percentage has dropped to less than 52% because of the consumer demand for trucks and multi-purpose passenger vehicles, which are not subject to the bumper requirements. In the intervening years, vehicle designs have also significantly changed. Vehicle designs in the 1970s frequently included metal bumpers with simple replacement of sealed beam headlamps. In comparison current designs usually include hidden bumper protection systems with moulded plastic covers and integral unique headlamps designs.

In the 1970s, the Government estimated that there would be a very small reduction in fatalities and injuries as a result of the benefit that people would no longer continue to drive a vehicle with damaged non-functioning lights following a small collision. The intention was for this requirement to result in vehicle designs where lighting and similar safety systems would be protected in a low-speed collision so that they would remain functional should the vehicle owner continue to drive a damaged vehicle. Today, several factors may alter this conclusion, such as the significant increase in sales of trucks and multi-purpose passenger vehicles (almost 500% increase), the significant design changes in bumpers and lighting systems in the past 35 years and the requirement of most police forces to have vehicles towed away from even minor collisions. It is now impossible to determine if the unique Canadian test speed requirement of 8 km/h provides any safety benefit. As there are over 370 pedestrian fatalities per year (a significant portion of the 2 900 fatalities per year on Canadian roads), it is proposed that it is time to refocus road safety efforts away from a higher speed test requirement that protects the vehicle safety systems, to facilitating future pedestrian safety designs. Pedestrian fatalities have remained stagnant since 2001, despite Canada’s national Road Safety Vision 2010 target of a 30% reduction for vulnerable road users. Further information is available in the Road Safety Vision 2010 Mid-Term Review report, viewable at the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators Web site www.ccmta.ca and in the Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics, viewable at www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety.

It is understood that making the front of a vehicle softer to protect pedestrians could result in some additional repair costs, especially considering that most low-speed collisions involve rear-ending other vehicles, such as in bumper-to-bumper traffic. This would have an impact on the insurance industry and, in turn, the consumer. In 2007, the U.S.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a new (non-regulatory) bumper test protocol to better mimic the performance of a car bumper and to assess under- and override during vehicle-to-vehicle low-speed crashes for all classes of light duty vehicles, with the focus being on damageability and cost of repairs. The impact speed for front and rear full-width impacts is 9.6 km/h and the corner impacts are tested at 4.8 km/h.

This proposed amendment would better serve a greater proportion of the public, as it would facilitate the enhancement in safety for pedestrians without reducing the safety of passenger cars. As the IIHS widely publicizes the results of their test program, Canadian consumers will be able to take advantage of this consumer information as part of their decision-making when purchasing a new vehicle.

Read the full amendment at Canada Gazette

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How To Import A Car From The US

Importing Guide Provides Step-by-Step Process For All Types of Vehicles

The sixth edition of the UCanImport Guide has been entirely reorganized and features a number of new enhancements, including:


At the beginning of Version 6 is the newly revised Vehicle Cost Worksheet and Checklist tools. The Process and Documentation Checklists now feature references to specific pages within the guide, enabling you to peruse the document in the typical linear "start to finish" fashion or skip to only those sections where you require additional clarification. For easier use, you will now also be able to download the Vehicle Cost Worksheet in Microsoft(r) Excel format and the sample letters and cover letters in Microsoft(r) Word format.

"I have to say, I likely wouldn't have tried this importation
had I not stumbled across your guide. I'll be recommending
this to many others." ~ Les B, Calgary, AB, April 15, 2008


The revised guide also feature new discussions such as "the implications of your vehicle choice", "understanding your documentation requirements", and more, that have been written and rewritten so that regardless of the vehicle you choose to import, you will be equipped with the best overall picture of what to expect along the way.

In Version 6, there are also fewer database-style tables, and instead more detailed discussion of the various steps involved. Why? The information in these lists changes too frequently. It makes more sense to include the lists, such as manufacturers' warranty policies, manufacturers' contact databases, trip permit information, border crossing instructions, glossary, etc. in the Resource Library on the UCanImport web site rather than in the guide itself. We can now update the list content more regularly (daily if need be) for our UCanImport Subscribers without any disruption to their importation experience. The guide is now purely focused on teaching you the importation process itself.

"Really Good Job! Version 6 is a great update and very
comprehensive. I hope you do well with this version."

~ Vince M., Ontario, April 2, 2008


All web URL references in Version 6 that link to resources in the UCanImport web site or on other third party web sites are now "active". Readers can click on the links to be directed to the corresponding information online (make sure you are connected to the Internet when you review the new guide).

"Just wanted to say thanks for the comprehensive information
on vehicle importing from the US to Canada. I really appreciated the
detailed and specific information you provide. Good work!"

~ Ian A., Alberta, April 1, 2008


With the release of Version 6, UCanImport has also modified the format of its services. Now, for a low ONE-TIME fee of $19.99, you can become a lifetime UCanImport Subscriber. What does this mean? The benefits are threefold:

1. In addition to your initial copy, you will now get all future editions of the guide delivered to your inbox at no additional charge (typically every 3 to 4 months).

2. You will also receive a membership to the UCANIMPORT SUBSCRIBER, an exclusive monthly eNewsletter packed with the latest importing regulatory changes, auto manufacturer requirement changes, money-saving tips, as well as case studies and insights from fellow importers. The eNewsletter ensures you are up-to-date between guide releases. Many of you have already received the UCANIMPORT INSIDER on a trial basis and the feedback so far has been outstanding.

3. You join a national community of vehicle importers. UCanImport is committed to providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date importing information on the Internet. We are acting as a conduit for sharing the latest importing information, experiences, tips.

"Thank for the fantastic job you are doing of getting all the new information
to people like myself who have been a UCanImport Subscriber since early
2007 but who have not yet bought in the States. With your updates, we
always know what has changed, and what we can expect when we begin
our importation. Great service!"

~ Fijay M., British Columbia, April 2, 2008


UCanImport is the only service that teaches you the ENTIRE importing process from start to finish - from purchasing your vehicle and the implications of your vehicle choice right through to inspections and final vehicle certification! With our educational resources, you will learn each step and their order of execution. You will also have the confidence to perform the importation when you are ready.

Import a BMW Motorcycle from the US

RIV Accepting DCS (dealer communication system) Printout for BMW Motorcycles

If you plan to import a BMW motorcycle from the US and can convince the dealership in the US to print off the DCS showing that no recalls are outstanding on the motorcycle, RIV will accept it in place of the $500 Letter of Compliance that is required for imported BMW motor vehicles.

A recent importer of a brand new BMW motorcycle has informed UCanImport that RIV initially refused the DCS printout, stating that a Letter of Compliance was required. Within a few days, however, they e-mailed the importer asking for the DCS and issued Form 2 within 3 hours.

This could be a one-time incident or may apply across the board to motorcycles only, so proceed with your importation knowing that you may be spared the $500 Letter of Compliance fee.

Import a Mercedes-Benz from the US

Letter of Compliance Process Requires Additional Inspection

Submitted by: MB importer in Alberta
Comments and other experiences welcome

”We had our conversions done mid-March to the tune of $4685.00. This covered the $500.00 inspection fee, replacing the instrument panel (which really isn't necessary as it has a built in metric conversion in the computer), and the bumper pads. The bumpers were about $2800 to convert.

Now we are still awaiting the arrival of the phantom MB Inspector to show up and rubber stamp their "exhaustive" repair work. Phoned the other day and he is still not expected into our city until April 23rd!!

I was told by the dealer that Mercedes-Benz Canada is down to one inspector for the country. So who knows when the inspector will return to our city to inspect the work completed by an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealership? How ludicrous that Mercedes Benz-Canada has only one person in the entire country capable of this onerous task, and that Mercedes Benz-Canada does not place enough confidence in their dealers to ensure the work is done safely."

UCanImport says:

If you import a Mercedes-Benz vehicle from the US, you will have to complete the above documented process to receive a Letter of Compliance. The Letter of Compliance is required by RIV to release your Form 2 (Federal Inspection Form). However, the Letter of Compliance can only be authorized after a Mercedes-Benz inspector has confirmed that the modifications were correctly completed.

All prospective importers should at the very least get a written quote from their local Mercedes-Benz dealership for the modification work required to their vehicle. This can be done by submitting a VIN to the dealership and requesting a written quote. Understanding that you may have delays of up to 2 months, possibly more, before you can operate your vehicle should also be a consideration.

If anyone from Mercedes-Benz is reading our blog, tell us why you don't trust your dealerships to complete the modifications and why you insist on having only one inspector for the country. Surely, you can't be trying to prevent imports into Canada?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Import a Lexus from the US into Canada

RIV List Updated to Include 2009 RX 350

If you wish to import a Lexus vehicle from the US into Canada, you can now broaden your search to include the 2009 RX 350. The 2009 RX 350 was just added to the RIV admissibility list.

Please not that Lexus claims that it has already provided the 2009 vehicle admissibility listing to RIV and that RIV has just not updated its website. We can't confirm that RIV actually has the list, but knowing that the 2009 RX 350 has been added to the admissible listing means that some information has been transferred to RIV.

Please do not attempt to import any other 2009 Lexus vehicles without confirming admissibility with RIV and/or Lexus.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Import a Volvo from the US

British Columbia Dealerships Continue to Charge Exorbitant Fees for Safety Inspection

Comments from a frustrated Volvo Importer:

I just spent 30 minutes with a Lower Mainland Volvo dealer after getting a quote of $1895 for this inspection. Interestingly I asked for the service dept, got passed through to service until I told them that I was looking for a Safety Inspection for a US import. I was then transferred to a another person that I later found out was the General Sales Manager.

At any rate - he tried rather unsuccessfully to defend the rate but couldn't back it up with anything other than some general statements like they needed special tools and special training to do the inspection. I asked him to provide a list of tools or training that was required specifically to do the inspection (that they wouldn't otherwise already have) and he just danced around it and could not provide anything to me. He also tried to tell me that a US v70 was totally different car than a Canadian v70. I told him that was udder cow poop, that I was a mechanical engineer that had studied car manufacturing and sure there would be some differences but that they were not totally different cars.

What's interesting is that after the 30 minutes were up and I started joking around with him I told him that I thought this was gouge and that off the record the $1895 was nothing more than an artificial barrier to importing vehicles - and he agreed with me and said he had wished they would just let the market take care of the pricing.

Anyway it appears to still be $1900 and up in BC for the "safety inspection"
(nudge-nudge-wink-wink) in order to get the Compliance Letter from Volvo Canada. Don Docksteader still refuses to do them and they told me to save my time calling around the other dealers in the Lower Mainland because apparently they are all owned by Jimmy Pattison so the prices weren't likely to be any different. This is so brutal!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

BMW Policies Continue to Frustrate Importers

BMW Importers are seeing Red with the policies implemented in late 2007

Comments welcome

Well, I must say reading the article in the Vancouver Sun this morning totally MADE MY DAY!!!! I have downloaded all the necessary forms from Dinning Hunter Lambert & Jackson, and will be more than happy to join you in pursing a Class Action lawsuit!!!

On March 11th,2008 I purchased a 2007 BMW 328xi from Bellevue BMW . I had originally ordered a car from Brian Jessel, but couldn't believe the price difference in the US, so decided to go that route. I went online to the RIV website to see what was involved. The car I got would have been $76,000 Cdn .I paid $40,045 !!!for a 2007 with 12,000 kms...so it was totally worth it.

I didn't have any trouble getting the car across the border..I regretfully paid for an Admissibility Letter for $392 that RIV told me I had to have in order to get the car into Canada, but when I mentioned it to Customs, they said I didn't need it!!! sooooo, it has been quite a nightmare, all thanks to BMW Canada!

My car is equipped with the IDrive feature, so the US Dealer was happy to switch it over to KMS, Daytime Running Lights, (which all worked perfectly) The instrument cluster was in both Kms and Miles so I thought that was fine..as well as I had a Immobilizer installed, (which I wanted anyways) .They assured me the bumpers were good tether straps in place etc etc..French Labels?? I went to the Inspection place to ask about that, and they just laughed, and said not to worry about it....so I thought I was good to go! Apparently not! The US Dealer also supplied me with a Recall Letter, which was rejected by RIV.

I have just spent the last 2 days.drivng back and forth to Auto West BMW to have my instrument cluster changed, and the daytime running lights switched (which all worked fine to begin with) and now I am left with a $2,400 bill!!

BMW advised me that it nows takes 10-15 days (NOT 5 days which I was orginally told by RIV) for the documents to be cleared, so I can finally insure the car in Canada!!!

Anything I can do to help you in any way, please feel free to contact me. I will be submitting my paperwork as soon as possible.

UCanImport has heard that BMW Canada has informed their dealerships that these policies are aimed at slowing down imports from the US. If you've had direct experience with a dealership who has told you that this is a BMW strategy they are working with, write to us.

Or if you are from a BMW dealership and can justify these expenses and frustrations, please share.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Import a Volvo from the US

Cost of Safety Inspection May Be Decreasing

We have just been informed that the Volvo of Durham is charging $270 for the Safety Inspection, instead of the outrageous $1,950+ fees that other Canadian dealerships have been charging.

The completion of a Safety Inspection by a Volvo dealership is necessary - as of this moment - to obtain a Letter of Compliance from Volvo Canada.

Letter of Compliance Alternative

However, we have heard accounts where RIV accepted a letter from Volvo Cars of North America LLC (issued at no charge) that states that the vehicle in question was manufactured to comply with both US and Canadian standards. We believe that this letter satisfies the RIV requirement to receive a Letter of Compliance.

To contact Volvo Cars of North America, use (201) 768-7300 and ask to speak with a Customer Care Consultant. You will have to have a VIN for the vehicle to provide to the Volvo representative.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Import a Harley Davidson Motorcycle from the US

Recall Clearance Information Available After Motorcycle Purchase

RIV will only accept Recall Clearance Information from Fred Deeley Harley-Davidson. To obtain this letter follow the following steps;

1. Telephone the dealership at (905) 660-3500
2. Request an Application Form for Recall Clearance by fax, e-mail or mail.
3. Complete the Application Form and submit it with a copy of the Title and Bill of Sale for your new Harley Davidson purchase.
4. Ask for the Recall Clearance Letter to be sent to you by fax, e-mail or mail.
5. Submit the Recall Clearance Letter to RIV to release Form 2.

The Recall Clearance Letter will be sent to you in 5 to 7 business days, and the folks at Fred Deeley are terrific to work with!

Lawsuit Filed Against Auto Manufacturers

Re: Lawsuit Filed in British Columbia Against Auto Manufacturers for Practices in Contravention of the Competition Act

March 24, 2008

Dear Canadian Vehicle Importer:

As a result of the strong Canadian dollar, Canadians imported a record 190,000 vehicles in 2007 from the United States. This trend is continuing in 2008 because the savings associated with purchasing a vehicle in the United States are considerable, usually in the range of 30%, but as high as 50% for some models.

Vehicle manufacturers stand to lose a considerable amount of money if this momentum continues, and are taking steps to stem the flow of vehicles entering from the United States. Already, Canadians are facing considerable and growing barriers when importing vehicles into Canada.

It is our position that the trade barriers erected by vehicle manufacturers are unlawful. The purpose of our lawsuit is to force vehicle manufacturers to comply with the law and to obtain compensation for Canadians who have suffered losses as a result of these exploitive policies.

If you are a resident of British Columbia or Alberta and have imported a vehicle from the United States, review the Statement of Claim to determine if you qualify as a plaintiff in this lawsuit. The Statement of Claim, as well as a Questionnaire and a Plaintiff Registration Form are currently available on the web site www.UCanImport.com. Dinning Hunter Lambert & Jackson is seeking court approval for this lawsuit to become a “class action” suit, which it anticipates having by June of 2008. All individuals who register will be contacted for further information on their particular case. It is also expected that other car manufacturers will be added as defendants, prior to certification approval. If you have been adversely affected by these exploitive practices, but purchased from a manufacturer not currently named as a defendant, you are still encouraged to register.

NOTE: This lawsuit creates the opportunity for individuals who have lost money to recover it. However, submission of documentation does not obligate you to participate in the lawsuit. In addition, once class certification is obtained, you are not at risk to pay any costs if the suit is unsuccessful. The costs will be borne by Westport Motors, the proposed representative plaintiff.

We welcome your interest and support.

About Dinning Hunter Lambert & Jackson

Dinning Hunter Lambert & Jackson has been providing a full range of legal services in Canada for over twenty-five years. The firm offers its expertise in areas such as complex litigation, aboriginal law, commercial and corporate law, immigration, insurance, personal injury, real estate, and estate law. Dinning Hunter Lambert & Jackson offers lawyers who are members of the bars of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.


Wm. Rory Lambert
Dinning Hunter Lambert & Jackson

Tel: (250) 381-2151
Fax: (250) 386-2123

Compliance Work Receipts for Volvo Imports

Dear Readers:

We are seeking Volvo importers who paid approximately $275 for their Volvo inspections last year to come forward with their receipts issued by the Volvo dealership that performed the inspections.

Since January 1, 2008 Volvo has introduced exhorbitant pricing for the same level of work. This is one of the allegations of the newly launched suit against a number of auto manufacturers.

If you have your receipts, please note that this serves as proof that the work that cost less than $300 last year is being charged out at $2,000 + this year.

If you, or anyone you know, imported a Volvo vehicle in the last 24 months, please submit copies of your receipts to Dinning Hunter Lambert Jackson using this link http://www.ucanimport.com/Lawsuit.aspx?t=downloads

Thank you.

Import a Volvo from the US

Avoid Paying Volvo Compliance Fees - Possible Loophole for Importers

UCanImport has learned that RIV will accept a Provincial Inspection in place of a Volvo Letter of Compliance. This was confirmed by a recent Volvo importer who received their Form 2 after first completing the inspection required for their Province of residence.

Here's what UCanImport advises:

1. Read comments from UCanImport subscriber: "Anyhow i contacted RIV and said if a shop on the RIV list performs the provincial & federal inspection, why do i need a Volvo safety compliance letter. they said u dont. they said the provincial inspection is good enough. that inspection specifically checks the car for faulty brakes, tires, etc as long u pass that you're good. I'm now licensed and enjoying my ride."

2. Locate a Provincial Inspection Centre for your province of residence by searching the UCanImport blog. You do not need a Form 2 for the Provincial Inspection.

3. Complete the Provincial Inspection for your Volvo import.

4. Send RIV a copy of the completed Provincial Inspection Report, and request Form 2 so that you can complete your Federal Inspection. Federal Inspection Centre listing is available in the UCanImport Resources Library.

Please let us know if this loophole is successful.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Importing Cars into Canada

CTV News - Car Makers Sued Over Import "Obstacles"
Updated: Tue Mar. 25 2008 18:19:46

A few Victoria car dealers have filed a class action suit against some of the biggest automakers in the business, saying they are gouging importers unfairly.

One dealer says he thinks new measures like charging for changing a speedometer to kilometres per hour, or making a temperature read Celsius, are nothing but cash grabs.

"Canadians are getting ripped off by these manufacturers," said Todd MacDonald, who imports expensive pre-owned vehicles from the U.S. and re-sells them in Canada.

The new measures add as much as $5,000 to the cost of a $100,000 BMW for a local dealer -- and it takes twice as long to import it, he said.

MacDonald says he thinks the manufacturers are trying to keep prices high, despite a higher loonie that should make American goods cost less.

MacDonald's Victoria lawyer, Rory Lambert, has filed a class action suit.

With almost 200,000 vehicles imported last year, a lot of consumers may sign on, said Lambert.

He said it's a matter of fairness.

"You can go to a local GM dealer, and ask them how many US cars they have on their lot," he said. "They can take advantage of the price difference but we can't. Is that fair?"

The New Car Dealers Association didn't return phone calls to tell their side of the story, and neither did BMW or other manufacturers.

MacDonald isn't spending much time in the showroom -- he's buried in paperwork, working on his lawsuit, and hoping the government steps in to stop manufacturers from adding more obstacles.

"I'm hoping to put these guys in their place," he said.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Dag Sharman

Import a Car from California

California Tax Rates Vary by City and County

If you plan to import a car from California, unless you transport (not drive!) the vehicle directly out of the state, you will be charged the state tax on your purchase.

Tax rates vary by City and County and can be obtained from the California Board of Equalization (BOE) at http://www.boe.ca.gov/sutax/pdf/tax_rates_april2008.pdf

According to the BOE, "California has many special taxing jurisdictions (districts), which are funded by a transactions (sales) and use tax rate that is added to the standard statewide rate of 7.25%, effective January 1, 2002. The tax rates for these districts range from 0.10% to 1.00% per district. In some areas, there is more than one district tax in effect. In others, there is no district tax in effect."

UCanImport advises you to discuss the tax implication with the DMV or the dealership - or avoid it altogether by shipping the vehicle up to the Canadian border.

Import a Motorcycle from California

Use this Bill of Sale if Purchasing through a Private Seller

If you plan to import a motorcycle from California and you are purchasing from a private seller, here is a Bill of Sale form that you can use to facilitate your transaction.


Import a Volvo from the US

Modification Quotes Higher in Saskatchewan

If you plan to import a Volvo from the US, you have to shop for modification quotes. Here are some recent quotes that importers have received for a 2-hour safety inspection. Note: modifications are generally not required on these vehicles. This is just a price that you must pay for the dealership to tell you that you vehicle complies with Canadian Safety Standards and for RIV to issue Form 2 (Federal Inspection Form).

Valentine Volvo in Calgary - $1,950

Volvo Saskatoon in Saskatoon $2,450

Volvo of North Vancouver in Vancouver - $1895 + taxes, in addition to $350 paid for a Letter of Admissibility.

Any higher bids? Has anyone else paid Volvo for the Letter of Admissibility?

Keep them coming and we'll keep posting this information for other Canadians who may want to import a Volvo from the US.

Despite these costs, the price difference is still enormous on Volvo vehicles that are imported from the US - so include these punitive fees in your UCanImport Vehicle Cost Worksheet to determine your bottom line savings on your Volvo purchase.

Importing Vehicles Into Canada

Class-Action Law Suit Aimed at Compensating Canadians for Unfair Pricing Practices

A lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia and seeking certification for a class-action lawsuit was announced yesterday. The lawsuit alleges that a number of auto manufacturers are keeping vehicle prices artificially high in Canada - average of 30% - while imposing restrictions on Canadians who are trying to exercise their legal right to purchase a vehicle in the U.S.

Other tactics by manufacturers such as Acura, Honda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, GM and Chrysler include the voiding of warranties.

Audi, BMW, Toyota, Lexus, GM, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and others are prohibiting new vehicles sales to Canadians by citing territorial issues in their franchise agreements.

Yet others such as BMW, Jaguar and Volvo are charging exorbitant document and modification fees.

All policies are alleged to fly in the face of the NAFTA agreement and keep vehicle prices unjustifiably high in Canada.

To get involved by presenting your claim to the law firm, read http://www.ucanimport.com/lawsuit.aspx
and download documents from

Import a Motorhome from the US

Two Recall Clearance Letters may be required when you Import a Motorhome from the US

If you are seeking to import a motorhome from the US you will have to obtain recall clearance information for all vehicles newer than 15 years. In some cases, where the chassis and the body are manufactured by two separate companies, you will have to obtain recall clearance information from both manufacturers before you are allowed to import the motorhome from the US.

Where the manufacturers databases are not able to locate the VIN number of the motorhome you wish to import, you will have to provide details from the vehicle identification plate that is affixed to the motorhome at the time of manufacture. This plate is located usually on the driver's side of the motorhome.

You will have to provide the Identification Number as well as the Date of Manufacture to the manufacturer. These two items will then be input into the manufacturer's system to obtain the correct recall information for your motorhome import.

If any recalls are outstanding on the motorhome, you will not be allowed to import it from the US until you have completed the recalls and can provide a work order to this effect. Where the motorhome is more than 15 years old, you are able to import it from the US and will be exempt from the RIV program.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Import a Car into Canada

UCanImport Featured on BC's “Christy Clark Show” on CKNW AM 980

On Monday, March 24, 2008, UCanImport has been invited to take part in a live interview at 1:00pm on the Christy Clark Show on CKNW AM 980.

The interview will be dedicated to the topic of how to import a car into Canada from the United States, with special attention to the recent policy changes implemented by the auto manufacturers. The show will also feature an important announcement on the legality of these importation policies.

If you want to import a car into Canada, you should tune into the show to understand some of the implications of your intended purchase.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Import a Mercedes-Benz from the US

Understand your Admissibility Requirements and request a Letter of Admissibility

If you want to import a Mercedes-Benz from the US into Canada, you will have to request a Letter of Admissibility from Mercedes-Benz prior to proceeding with your importation.

Mercedes-Benz provides an online admissible vehicles list and give potential importers the ability to request a Letter of Admissibility through an online request form.

Note: that the Letter of Admissibility is only issued in hard copy and will be sent to you by mail.

Import a Volvo from the US

Understand the costs for Compliance and Modifications

UCanImport has been informed that if you import a Volvo vehicle from the US into Canada, you may be charged $1,950 for a 2-hour safety inspection. To-date 2 Volvo importers have confirmed these charges, which work out to an hourly labour cost of $975!

Bottom line: neither vehicle required any modifications, nor did the dealership issue a statement showing what, if anything, needed to be fixed.

One of the offending dealerships named is Valentine Volvo in Calgary. UCanImport would like all Volvo importers to recognize that these charges may accrue to your importation and ask that you shop around for quotes. Even if there are no modifications required to your vehicle, you may still have to pay these costs just to comply with Volvo's new importing policies.

UCanImport requests that if you have received quotes for your Volvo inspection, contact us with the dealership name and the charges. We will continue to update importers on these punitive practices by the manufacturer.

Despite these costs, both importers report that the price disparity is too great not to take advantage of the savings. But go in informed so you don't get blind sided by these charges.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Import a BMW from the US and expect to shop around for modification quotes

Submitted by a UCanImport Subscriber who imported a BMW vehicle from the US:


Submitted by a UCanImport Subscriber:

In Calgary the dealership has taken an aggressive approach to imported vehicles. If you call to book a service appt for a CDN vehicle, it’s a week to get in.

For US vehicles they’re making you wait 90 days!!! Kelowna BMW charged me $1350 for the cluster and programming installed (still a cash grab), but the Calgary dealership charges $2200 for the cluster installed and $400 for the DRL programming. Edmonton was similar in price.

I drove out and got the work done in Kelowna. I’d be super happy if they hadn’t put the wrong cluster in!!!

The 335, because of the bi-turbos, has an oil temp gauge in the cluster, all lower models have a fuel economy gauge in that spot. Guess which one they put in mine? Then they argued that it was the right one. I walked them over to a Canadian 335 sitting on their showroom floor and showed them the oil temp gauge. Apparently that wasn’t enough as I’m still fighting with them about it.

Anyway, I got my clearance letter and I just finished my import work this week. It was a pain. I like the car, but am pissed off at BMW Canada, and all the brands that are doing the same thing.

How do they think this will create good long term relationships with these possible new customers? Surely long term either the dollar will drop back, or the prices will realign. This short sighted cash grab protectionism will only hurt their image, customer relations, and in the end, bottom line.

Everyone who has asked me for help, I’ve directed towards brands that are treating importers fairly.


UCanImport says:

Thank you for sharing your story. What we find interesting is that BMW Canada refuses to acknowledge any modification work completed in the US stating that they must verify it themselves through a Canadian dealership - as they cannot vouch for the quality of workmanship of their colleagues in the south.

We agree the pricing practices are unfair and illogical, especially since they were implemented unilaterally at the sole discretion of BMW Canada. The issue here is why Transport Canada would allow these practices to continue. If the modification work can be completed to meet Canadian Safety Standards, why should BMW dictate where and how they get done.

Here are some of BMW's justifications for their charges. I think if I got a CarFax report and an internal system printout (free) from the US dealership, I would be achieving the same thing as Mr. Caton describes below. The other point is that the word "service" is used incorrectly. It should only apply to something I have requested or something given to me at no charge; to dictate the charges within a monopoly seems unfair.


Dear [importer],

I am in receipt of your email and offer this reply.

In your letter you reference the recall clearance letter and our $500 charge for it. You also state one of our staff suggested it provides some protection, please let me explain.

The $500.00 really covers the cost of providing a service for you which results in you getting the letter you require. Once we get the Retailer’s request for your letter we check both the US data base (which is not part of our regular warranty system) and the Car Fax system to view the warranty status and see if there are any outstanding recalls, (we are presently developing a system where we can notify the new owners in Canada of any future recalls as at present those notices would only be sent to the original owner in the US). We then enter your information and the vehicle’s into our system so our data base is up to date. From there we prepare the letter which goes to two officers of our company for signing. Once done it goes back to the Retailer for distribution to you. Before the letter was even requested from us your dealership inspected the vin plates on your car, entered the information into their system and consulted with you.

As you can appreciate this all costs money and because of the large volume of BMWs coming into Canada we have had to hire additional staff to administer it and therefore there is a charge.

In terms of the protection this all provides. Not everyone thinks to get a Car Fax (you were smart) so we get it for you and we check our US warranty system. Once done we can tell you the status of your warranty, now you may have already bought the car, but you will at least know then if its been in a bad accident, sold for salvage, been a flood car and whether the warranty is in force or not. Also, as I mentioned above we are developing a system to notify you of future recalls which could help keep us all safe.

We are sorry you are disappointed with our process and charges however, I am sure you are also in business and understand there are costs associated with providing services and while those costs could always be debated, we feel the fees we charge are reasonable based on our experience.

We hope you enjoy your car,

Best Regards,

Bruce Caton

National Manager, Pre-Owned


Comments welcome.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Importing a Car from California - State Tax Exemption Availibility

If you are importing a car from the U.S., there are a number of money-saving avenues you can take advantage of. In addition to the better exchange rates and lower pricing available in the U.S., there are tax saving advantages for importers as well.

If you are importing a car from California, understand that you will have to pay the State Tax on your purchase, unless the vehicle is delivered to you out of the state. If you plan to drive your car off the lot in California, you will have to pay the tax.

According to the California Board of Equalization, if you are importing a car, the "purchaser is not required to pay California use tax if the only use of the property purchased in California is to remove it from the state and it will be used solely thereafter outside this state. No other use can be made of the property."

The California Board of Equalization must receive a completed Statement Of Delivery Outside California form http://www.boe.ca.gov/pdf/boe448.pdf

If importing a car from California verify this information with the seller and save yourself the State Tax.

Importing a Car from Florida - State Tax Exemption Possibility

If you are importing a car from Florida, you may qualify for an exemption from the State Tax of 6% if the seller delivers the car to you outside of the State.

Importing a car from the U.S. has many steps and there are a number of ways that you can avoid costly mistakes. One way is to confirm with the seller of the vehicle that the car you are importing from the U.S. can be collected without paying the State Tax. In States such as California and Florida if you are importing a car you will have to pay the State tax unless the car is delivered to you outside of the State.

For information on the Florida regulations and exemptions, see http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/taxes/vehicle_sut.html

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Buying a Vehicle or Vessel from a private seller in Florida

If you are purchasing a Motor Vehicle, Mobile Home, Off-Highway Vehicle or Vessel from a private seller in Florida, you will need to complete this Notice of Sale and/or Bill of Sale for submission to Florida DMV.

For a listing of office locations click: http://www.flhsmv.gov/offices/

Possible Tax Exemption for California Motorcoach and RV Purchasers

State of California, Board of Equalization will allow purchasers of a new or remanufactured truck, truck tractor, trailer, or semitrailer, with an unladen weight of 6,000 pounds or more, or a trailer coach or auxiliary dolly, purchased from a dealer located outside California for use outside
California, and delivered in California by the manufacturer or remanufacturer to a purchaser who is not a resident of California.

Please confirm if your purchase qualifies for such an exemption by contacting the seller.

To view the application form for this exemption click: http://www.boe.ca.gov/pdf/boe837.pdf

Note, California Coach Company listed on http://www.ucanimport.com/USA_Car_Dealers.aspx?t=rvs
offers this service to its purchasers.