Letter from the Editor Issue 59

Summer 2006 CSANews Issue 59  |  Posted date : May 28, 2007.Back to list

Is it just my imagination, or has it really become a little easier to cross the U. S. - Canada border? I flew to California last week to pick up a car which I had purchased (I am a car nut, obviously) and drive it back to Canada. Both the airport departure and the return land-border crossing at Niagara falls were uneventful. They were also fast, efficient, courteous and amazingly pleasant experiences. It appears that in our new age of heightened security, the border services have hired more, and better-trained, staff – and it shows.

My passport was read and quickly processed, and it is the only bordercrossing document that makes sense to me. Our recent survey shows that 96% of snowbirds have not changed any of their travel plans due to the new border procedures; 95% also indicate that they already carry a passport, as the CSA recommends. So the new U.S. regulations will probably have little effect on the snowbird population, other than possible delays. The CSA has asked the Canadian government to reduce both our, and their, costs by changing the renewal period from five to 10 years. What I personally would like to see would be giving students and seniors FREE passports. This would actually save the government money, compared to a renewal extension, if my calculations are correct. I also think that people change a lot say, from age 18 to age 28, and perhaps five year renewals are more appropriate.

With my recent car importing experience, I would like to leave you with a tip or two. There is generally no duty to pay on vehicles that are built in the United States, as they fall under our free Trade Agreement. If the vehicle is an import from Japan, Germany, etc., there is duty to pay, in my case, of 6.1%. When you enter Canada, the customs staff will charge you GST of 6% and an air-conditioning tax of $100. Now that your car is legally in Canada, you can drive it with the U.S. plates, but you must get the vehicle registration changed to your province of residence, usually within seven days. In Ontario, this registration fee is $206 and you will also have to pay provincial sales tax on the purchase price.

Basically, this is a very simple process, BUT you must file a copy of the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs officials at least 72 hours prior to bringing the car into Canada. I would recommend a one-week advance notice. You then go to the border on business days between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., with the car, and they will stamp the original ownership as "Suitable for Export." This was a much simpler process than I had expected, and I believe that I saved as much as $20,000, including fees and exchange rates, on my used (but new to me) 2005 Audi Allroad. The trip back from California with my youngest son (age 17) was, as they say in the TV ads, "priceless."

J. Ross Quigley,

P.S. Make sure that you get your Early Bird Insurance applications submitted before the August 11 deadline, and have a wonderful summer.