Driving a US registered vehicle in Canada

Fall 2014 CSANews Issue 92  |   Posted date : Oct 14, 2014.Back to list

Bird talk - Le Jaseur
Dear Bird Talk,

I am a lifetime member of the CSA and, as such, have a question to ask today. I am involved with a company that owns several vehicles in the U.S. and I would like to inquire about being able to drive one of these U.S. vehicles back to Ottawa, Canada. This incorporated company has holdings in both Florida and Canada and is registered in Florida. I have no intention of selling the car in Canada; it would simply be for travel convenience. With free trade between Canada and the U.S., I am hoping to be permitted to drive one of the corporation's U.S. cars back to Canada, when required from Florida, as flights are not always convenient and I enjoy motoring.
I have inquired to Customs and Immigration on this question, but I can't seem to get an answer pertaining to my particular situation. As such, I have no idea whether I am permitted to do this or not.

Your help with this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Ann from Ontario

Response:
Ed: So many rules and regulations! The short answer is “No!” A Canadian driving a car licensed in the U.S. into Canada raises every red flag known to a border guard. If you do want to bring a car back, you must “import” it and pay taxes and fees. As a car nut, I have done this and it is relatively easy, but it becomes a little expensive with the HST. And then, you have to export it back to the U.S. – again, with taxes and fees. This is all nonsense, of course, but I would not take any chances with your future right to visit the U.S. by trying to avoid it. Years ago, I had a very similar issue with a boat that I had purchased in Miami. Customs agents found it at a marina in Toronto (apparently they check marinas regularly) and issued me a "pay tax" or "get it out" summons. They also advised me that they could seize the boat and sell it. I now only drive a Canadian car both ways when I drive.

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