Sunday, February 3, 2008

RIV Update For BMW Imports - Admissibility and Recall Information

Please note: Information regarding admissibility and recall information is only provided by BMW Canada.

This list is based on information supplied to Transport Canada and The Registrar of Imported vehicles by the Vehicle manufactures on a voluntary basis. Therefore, they do not have to provide it under any circumstances.

Moreover, if a manufacturer fails to supply any compliance or modification information at all on a particular make or model; the vehicle is also deemed inadmissible.

This information is under the control of the manufacturer, and therefore must be obtained directly from them.

If you wish to import any BMW into Canada then, please contact an authorized Canadian BMW or MINI Retailer to request a letter of admissibility and for information regarding the exact nature and costs of modifications required. The modifications vary by model and may be expensive. ALL modifications MUST be performed by an authorized Canadian BMW or MINI Retailer and must be completed before a recall clearance letter can be issued by BMW Group Canada. Prior to reviewing your request for a letter of admissibility, the following information must be

- Model
- Model year
- 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

An official letter of admissibility from BMW Group Canada must be presented to a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer at time of importation. In addition, the official recall clearance letter obtained from BMW Group Canada once the required retrofits have been completed and documented by an authorized Canadian BMW or Mini Retailer must be presented to the Registrar of Imported Vehicles in order to properly register a vehicle.

Please note: BMW, Transport Canada and The RIV have all agreed that if you can prove that you've purchased the BMW BEFORE November 26th, BMW will issue a letter of admissibility free of charge.

You can contact BMWs Customer Relation department at 905-683-1200 for a letter.

Please be aware that as of June 1, 2007, BMW has initiated a new policy regarding recalls. We can only accept a letter from BMW Canada's head office typed on their official letter head. To obtain a recall document when you take your vehicle to an authorized BMW dealership, have it undergo a visual inspection, complete all recalls, and pay a fee of $500. At that point, BMW North America will issue a recall letter directly to you. The RIV will also automatically receive a copy of said letter directly from head office as well.

Under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act the responsibility for bringing an imported vehicle into compliance with Canadian safety regulations lies entirely with the importer; the RIV cannot be held responsible for any reason should the importer fail to complete the process successfully. Any information provided by the RIV is strictly based on the facts presented by the importer and reliance upon such information is at the importer's discretion.

The information contained in this email is intended to assist individuals interested in importing a vehicle from the United States, and contains information on the admissibility of various makes, models, model years and class of vehicles provided by the original equipment manufacturer. This information is contained on the List of Vehicles Admissible Form the United States which is available to the public on our web site at or directly at:

The admissibility of any particular make, model and model year of vehicle can only be ultimately determined by a) the presentation of the vehicle to Canada Customs at the time of importation, b) the decoding of the VIN contained on the vehicle import form - form 1 as presented to Canada Customs, and c) the successful completion of the federal inspection.


Anonymous said...

I have received the admissibility letter from BMW Canada for $350+ GST&PST and it was sent to me via email 2 days after my request. The letter was very generic, talked about incompliance with CMVSS #108 related to DTRL and it could apply to any car.
The 2007 x5 had the DTRL activated via software, but that was not in compliance with the Canadian Standard.
In order to comply they had to replace the instrument cluster, inspect the vehicle and supply letter of compliance; all that for $2,860.83 tax included.
The work was done in 2 days and I am waiting for the letter, which would take 3 weeks. I have 2 more weeks to wait for the letter I don't think they would send it sooner. They got me now, I don't have any choice.
I called the RIV office to check if they would release the form 2 with the invoice from BMW, but they told me no, I have to wait for the letter because they don't want any complaints from BMW.
I have also contacted the Ministry of Transportation asking for clarification about the standard for DTRL and if the software activated DTRL meet the requirements. Didn't hear from them yet...
I was very upset when I realized that the speedometer has only single units km/h no mph. How can you drive safely in the USA? I wander would BMW allow me to affix a sticker with mph or that also must be done by an authorized Canadian dealer. I will call the customer service and will keep you posted...


Please let us know how you make out. These practices by BMW are starting to frustrate thousands of importers. I wouldn't be surprised if lawyers are now involved on behalf of their clients who are still waiting on paperwork. Horrible PR on BMWs part!

Anonymous said...

anyone on this forum successfully imported a bmw and had to get their cluster changed? if so, do u know if TPMS works with the new 'canadian' cluster and reprogramming? would be a shame if they remove the feature just to 'canadianize' the car.

Anonymous said...

anyone on this forum successfully imported a bmw and had to get their cluster changed? if so, do u know if TPMS works with the new 'canadian' cluster and reprogramming? would be a shame if they remove the feature just to 'canadianize' the car.

Anonymous said...

Yes I've had the cluster changed on my 08' 328 coupe and the TPMS works fine.


Thank you for sharing your experience. Any chance you could tell us your approximate savings on your importation?

Anonymous said...

The jury's still out on that one, as I'm not through the process. Although it's significantly less than it would have been a few months ago, due to BMW Canada's reqmts and the need to actually register and pay state tax in the US, it was still worthwhile. I'll advise when all is done.


Submitted by a UCanImport reader:

Looks like they reduced the time for the letter from 15 - 20 days to 7 - 10 days. I just received this in an email:

Once the vehicle is here in Canada, you should make an appointment at a BMW Retailer in order to request a Recall Clearance letter. 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 check the recall history and complete any recalls that are required. BMW Group Canada will only issue an official recall clearance letter once the required daytime running lamp retrofit work has been completed and documented by an authorized Canadian BMW Retailer. Once the process has been completed, the Recall Compliance Letter will be issued for a fee of $500 plus tax. Please note that the approximate timeframe for obtaining this 7-10 business days.

Anonymous said...

Has BMW indicated why a "Canadian spec" instrument cluster is needed since the US cluster already has the KM/hr? There is nothing in the Transport Canada regulations requiring KM/hr exclusivity.

It occurs to me that $350 for letter of admissibility and $500 for Recall Clearance could be considered to be reasonable. But the instrument cluster replacement seems unnecessary and not environmentally friendly.

I don't see why the software activation of DRL would not be acceptable to the Canadian Standard. I could be convinced if there are credible and independently verifiable reason.

Anonymous said...

Here is the letter from Transport Canada regarding the DTRL,
The Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) 108 requires that every vehicle be equipped with daytime running lamps (DRL) and that the DRL must be on continuously when the engine is operating and the master lighting switch is not in the headlamps "on" position. Since CMVSS's apply to new vehicles as certified by the original manufacturers, not to the vehicle operators, the activation of DRL must be accomplished without any additional action by the vehicle operator.

The DRL may remain off after the engine is started but prior to the vehicle being set in motion for the first time; after the vehicle is put in motion the DRL must switch on and remain on until the engine is switched off. CMVSS 108 does not allow manufacturer to install any switches (mechanical or through computer software) that would allow the vehicle operator to activate or deactivate DRL, except that DRL may switch off automatically while the automatic transmission control is in the park or neutral position or while the parking brake is applied.

We hope this information is useful and we thank you for your interest in road safety.

Regulations Officer / Agent de règlements
Road Safety and Motor Vehicle Regulation / Sécurité routière et réglementation automobile
Transport Canada / Transports Canada

EmmEff said...

Does anybody else think these actions by BMW are a bit petty? They're doing everything in their power to keep the Canadian prices artificially inflated.

I was going to buy a used 3 series in the US in a few months, but looks like that won't happen now. Sure would be nice to get a salt-free Southern car, though.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone interested in a CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT against BMW CANADA. It seems that their behavior is restricting trade and requiring that DRTL be turned on only by BMW DEALER is not legal since some BMW Non Dealer Service providers have the capability to do the work.
Why should we pay thousand of dollars when this work can be done for under $200.00

B. said...

I'd be in. I'm in the process of trying to buy a used BMW right now. Costs and the possibility of the dealer padding the bill by finding other "necessary" upgrades has me steaming. I saw another site today that mentioned a class action. Maybe Google search for it.

Wonder how many man hours can be justified for the $850 plus tax. Works out to 8.5 hours x $100.00 per hour for a bit of paperwork that a school kid to produce.

Dennis said...

anonymous, I have the same frustrating experience in importing a 2007 530xi. I had my drl activated by the us dealer through software but the BMW toronto dealer insisted the need to replace cluster and heat control before requesting the recall letter.

Reading the Transport Canada's letter you have posted, it's not clear if they are in the same position as the BMW Canada.

If someone knows how to deal with similar situation, pls e-mail me at