Saturday, July 5, 2008

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 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

This is a great victory for the vehicle importer.



From UCanImport Subscriber
Good news about the admissibility letter on BMW. HOWEVER, they are still killing us in Calgary! The cost to do the daytime running light work is $520 + GST! and they are usually making us wait 3 weeks or so. The cost in Edmonton is $300 to $350 and in Saskatoon $400.........insanity!

Thanks for your assistance...this is a valuable resource.

René said...

Seems great, however I just wrote to TC and BMW and they both replied that the letter is still required. They did not seem to be aware of the July 4th update.


Here is the link to the admissibility lists on the RIV website.

Telephone RIV at 888-848-8240 and confirm if the vehicle in question will require a letter of admissibility from BMW.

Note that a letter of admissibility is different of a compliance letter.

This change on July 4th doesn't change the need for a compliance letter.

rick said...

Just brought a 2006 550 in on July 1st. Paid for letter of admissibility from BMW, Canadian Customs didn't even mention it. Car now at BMW dealer having "modifications" guages and controls ($4000.00). Advised that it would be at least 20 working days to have BMW Canada issue recall letter. Any alternatives or suggestions? thanks

Brian said...

I've just talked to BMW Canada customer service, and they said that the RIV list was error, that it would be updated soon, and that the letter of admissibility would be neccessary for all BMW imports.


RIV states otherwise in my phone call to them.

This is just another example of the tail wagging the dog.

We will keep an eye on the lists, but for the moment, if the vehicle is on the admissible list there is no need for a Letter of Admissibility.

Wouldn't be surprised if BMW starts playing hardball with Transport Canada though....

Brian said...

I also think that, as we speek, we should not need the letter of admissibility, since 1993-2009 all BMW models expet 1985 M3 are listed as admissible, and that means we do not need the letter to cross the border. Theoretically and technically, the letter is only necessary for crossing the border, isn't it? But, BMW says it is still necessary, and what they say is they overrule the government document. I just don't understand what kind of game they are playing now.


Thanks for your post Brian. In my conversation with RIV yesterday, they also said that for BMW there is no longer a need for a Letter of Compliance.

I said "what?"

They replied that if you look at the notes section, all it says is that the modifications must be done at a BMW dealership in Canada. It makes no mention of a Letter of Compliance.

As of yesterday, if you can get an internal dealer printout from the US dealership showing that no recalls are outstanding on your BMW, RIV will issue your Form 2.

Then you will take the vehicle to the dealership and have the modifications done and then to the federal inspection centre (Canadian Tire fore example) and have the vehicle inspected.

In other words, from the info we received yesterday, RIV will issue the Form 2 with proof of no recalls from the US BMW dealership!

We hope that the cash-hungry bandits at BMW don't attempt to thwart these changes.

We will continue to keep an eye on this situation.


For Rick:

Please see post above showing that RIV doesn't require a Letter of Compliance from BMW (as of yesterday).

If you have a printout from the BMW dealership RIV states that it will give you Form 2.

If anyone has any more information to supplement, please post.

rick said...

thank you for your response

RIV has accepted my letter from the US dealer and my form 2 will come on Monday.

Any suggestions on pursuing BMW Canada to refund my money paid for uneccessary Amissibility and Recall letter.


Congratulations Rick!

Yes, I do have an option to seek reimbursement for your expenses.

If you wish to participate in the class action lawsuit please see this link for more information.

We will send all subscribers and e-mail registrants an update within a short while, so please add your name to our e-mail list to receive further updates.

Thank you to all our readers for standing up for your rights to shop in the US under the NAFTA agreement.

Brian said...

Congratulations, Rick.

Do all these mean...

1. We do not need the letter of admissibility and do not need to pay for it;

2. We do not need the recall clearance letter and do not need to pay for it;


3. Only thing we need to pay for is all the modification cost, isn't it?


Thanks Brian.

Your interpretation is correct. You only pay for the modifications and if you can get the dealer in the US to print off the "No Recalls" screen capture, RIV says it will issue Form 2.

I suggest you double-check all this information throughout your importation project as the folks at BMW insist that the RIV list is incorrect and that it will be updated soon.

Brian said...

Do we need to replace the speedometer cluster, if we do not need the recall letter from BMW Canada and if we can get the screen capture from a US dealer?

As far as I know, the replacing the speedometer cluster with KM is not the reuquirement of TC, and that BMW just forced us to pay more to increase the import cost before they issue the recall letter.

If we can turn on the daytime running light by programming in the US, we really don't need to replace the speedometer cluster to kilometer as it is not requirement of TC?


I wish I could answer this question for you. If these modifications are not required by Transport Canada I would think that they are not required to be done. However, BMW may choose not to honour warranties if its dealerships don't work on your vehicle. I'm speculating here, but I wouldn't put anything past them.

The dealership has to complete modifications to meet Canadian Safety Standards. How and if an instrument cluster change meets Canadian standards is something I cannot answer.

I advise you to communicate your questions with RIV and BMW and please keep posting your findings here. Our goal is to help Canadians make sense of these changes and do what's best for their pocket books.

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I have just spoken to BMW and they told me that you cannot import the coupe unless it is the M series any comments on this or at there major modifications to the 3.0si coupe that I don't know about. Any info out there

Brian said...

As RIV's list of admissible vehicle, revised on July 8, states that all BMWs except some model/year are admissible to Canada, I phoned BMW Canada to ask for a refund for the letter of admissibility, which I ordered on July 7, 2008, and which BMW Canada issued on July 10, 2008. As I posted earlier in this thread, I phoned BMW Canada on July 9, 2008 to ask if the letter of admissibility would be necessary, and they said the RIV doc was error and would be updated soon.

Today, BMW Canada said the letter of admissibility would be no longer required, but they refused to refund the money because the letter of admissibility was ordered on July 7. They said no refund would be gived to the order before July 9.

Since the letter of admissibility was issued on the 10th of July, they issued it with the knowledge that it would not be required.


Brian, thanks for your post. Well there you have it...BMW is charging for something in complete contravention of its agreement with Transport Canada. You can't have any more blatant proof of their disregard for the importer.

Add you name to the lawsuit by visiting:

I think the courts would agree that this practice is unlawful and you are due your money back.

Garnet said...

I am pleased to announce that I was able to get my $350.00 for the Letter of Admissability refunded from BMW/ Mini. After reading your Blog, it promted me to re-look at the RIV admissability 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 boarder 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!


Thank you Garnet! We share your joy and thank you for sharing your successful story.

David said...

I recently purchased an E60 based M5 and unfortunately purchased the Letter of Admissibility just prior to RIVs changes (my letter of Admissibility from BMW Canada is dated July 4th...). As the vehicle is not yet in Canada, I would like to avoid the $500.00 payment for the Letter of Compliance as conversion work on this vehicle is high enough without the costs of these letters; however, the potential for denial of warranty coverage is a real concern that may offset the $500.00 savings.

Having subscribed to ucanimport for awhile (an excellent resource BTW), I recall a copy of a letter from Bruce Caton (BMW National Manager, Pre-Owned) - see the Blog Archive March 21, 2008 in which he tries to justify the $500 cost as a reasonable service charge. What concerns me with Mr. Caton’s letter is this statement: “…We then enter your information and the vehicle’s into our system so our data base is up to date…” and his references to future recall notification. Maybe I am paranoid, but given BMW Canada’s efforts to date to impede us importers, I wouldn’t put it past BMW Canada to deny warranty service at a later date. Help with clarifying this issue is greatly appreciated.


Congratulations on your purchase David, and thanks for sharing your comments.

I think we need to clarify that while RIV doesn't require a copy of a letter of compliance in order to send you your Form 2, the good folks at BMW may need to issue this letter as part of their warranty service to you for the future.

And Transport Canada cannot dictate how much BMW chooses to charge for this "service". What they have chosen to do is not require a Letter of Compliance to issue Form 2 and that's where their protection of the importer stops.

Warranty coverage is a legitimate concern and BMW importers need to understand if their coverage will be compromised if they choose to bypass the Letter of Compliance step.

This is a tidy little money gouge by BMW but it doesn't prevent you from receiving your Form 2 or completing your federal and provincial inspections; and as such puts to rest any allegations that Transport Canada and BMW are in cahoots to prevent imports from the US.

Patricia said...

I'm trying to import a 2003 mini. The speedometer has both miles and km's. I have a US recall clearance letter. The warranty has already lapsed. Like Brian, I am still wondering if I need to get the cluster changed or just get the DRL's programmed. Any advice appreciated!!!


Patricia, thanks for your inquiry. When you receive Form 2 from RIV, please review it for Transport Canada recommended modifications. These modifications are to be completed at a BMW dealership, unless otherwise stated - at least this is the wording on the RIV website. However, in most cases the vehicles already have the DRLs operational and meet recommended safety standards.

If modifications are required based on Form 2, a designated federal inspection centre such as Canadian Tire should be able to tell you if they have to send the job to BMW.

I wish I could be of more help here but I would not want to advise you to do anything that may compromise your driving safety.

We would appreciate hearing how you do.

ken b said...

I have just found this site and I am amazed at all of the complications that come with importing a bmw into Canada. I have a bmw 850i v12 that I am was considering selling and buying a mini, but unless the process becomes a lot easier I think that I will just keep putting mortgage amounts of gas in my bmw each week and forget the mini. I would really welcome any contact from people who have gone through the importing process with a mini as to how to get through this dilema. I must say that this site is tremendous.
Ken B.

Patricia said...

Hi All,
Just to report that I brought the 2003 Mini that I am planning to import to the service dept. of a Canadian Mini retailer and had them program the DRL's for me for $114.00. The programming also changed the odometer to km's and the gas info to liters. Due to my circumstances I was able to do this prior to "importing". The fact that the programming can be easily done seems to indicate that the "cluster change" is unnecessary. I'll let you know how I make out with the RIV form 2 and inspection.

Anonymous said...

While all this info is invaluable, I am still confused.
We are about to purchase a 2008 BMW, we have a recall letter, the daytime running lights are operational.
If we can get the inspection passed with modifications (if necessary) done by someone other than BMW, can we simply ignore them and waive the warranty? We could purchase a third party warranty.
Also, our dealer says that we should be able to get any warranty work done in the US - we would simply drive to Bellingham for the day. Does anyone know if this is possible?


Thanks for your questions.

Depending on the BMW model you are pursuing, having a recall letter (Vehicle Warranty Inquiry) and the DRLs operational are certainly two of the criteria which must be met to meet Transport Canada's safety standards, and to have your car deemed safe for use on Canadian roadways by the federal inspection centre.

However, with the question of warranty, BMW has you between a rock and a hard place.

Your solutions:

1. Confirm that not getting the modifications performed at a Canadian BMW dealer does not compromise your vehicle reliability and/or your road safety. You should do this prior to pursuing the other options below.

2. Confirm that you can get warranty work done in the US;

3. Look into supplemental third-party coverage in case it's not feasible to travel into the US for warranty work.

To get more information and quotes for third-party coverage that can be customized to your needs, see

NOTE: BMW dealerships are NOT designated federal inspection centres and cannot complete Form 2. They can only tell you what needs to be done to meet BMW Canada requirements, and complete those modifications for you.