How to Import a Vehicle into Canada

How to Import a Car into Canada

Something Canada is best-known for is diversity, inclusion, and the freedom to be yourself in whatever way suits you best. The same thing goes for the types of vehicles that us British Columbians drive around Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and Vancouver Island.

From right-hand drive Skylines to mini pickup trucks that you can only buy in Japan, our car culture is just as diverse as anything else in this wonderful province. However, if some vehicles can only be purchased overseas, you might be wondering how the person driving it got it to Canada to begin with. Additionally, you might be asking how they were able to get it imported when the vehicle itself is meant to be driven on the opposite side of the road.

In this blog post, we’ll answer those questions, along with many other pertaining to how to import a vehicle into Canada, including British Columbia.

Importing a Vehicle into BC from Another Country

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When you import a vehicle into British Columbia from another country, the rules are pretty similar as importing a vehicle from another province into BC.

While Canada has virtually the same regulations for bringing a vehicle into the country, the paperwork may vary vehicle to vehicle, depending on its origin. There are some countries that Canada will unequivocally allow vehicles in from, and we will touch base on those details further into this article.

Before Importing a Vehicle into BC:

1. Make sure that the vehicle you are importing into the country is legally allowed to be imported

2. Ensure that the person that you bought the vehicle from is legally allowed to sell the vehicle (perform a lien search when possible), and have proof of the vehicle title

3. Physically inspect the vehicle before agreeing to purchase it, and when possible, have it inspected by a professional vehicle inspection service. This can be difficult to do overseas, but when importing vehicles from the U.S., this step is much easier to complete.

4. Pay for the vehicle that you are importing into Canada in full before beginning the import process. Be sure to only do this after you’ve discerned whether or not the vehicle is legally allowed to be brought into the country.

5. Get all of the necessary paperwork prepared ahead of time to make the process as organized as possible.

When you bring a vehicle into Canada from the U.S. or Mexico, the requirements are less demanding than if you bring a car in from an overseas country like China, Japan, or anywhere in the UK.

Countries not located in North America are subject to a higher level of scrutiny because many of them are not manufactured according to Canadian regulations.

Can I Import a Car from Outside of the United States?

Yes, you can. BUT only some vehicles are allowed to be brought in. Furthermore, there are certain requirements that must be meant in accordance with Transport Canada’s regulations for importing a car into Canada from a country other than the U.S. or Mexico, and only certain vehicles are allowed.

Vehicles that are produced in foreign countries (basically, anywhere outside of North America) are manufactured to comply with that specific country’s regulations. However, those regulations do not always align with Canadian regulations.

Thus, the majority of foreign vehicles are not allowed to be imported into Canada. However, there are exceptions. For instance, if the vehicle you are buying is from Japan, but originally built in a country that has parallel regulations to Canada, it could be allowed entry.

Importing Vehicles

For international imports, the vehicle must comply with Transport Canada’s requirements to not only be allowed entry, but to be insured. This usually means passing a vehicle inspection upon entry into Canada (this is sometimes done at the border before entry).

What Do I Need to Import a Car from Overseas?

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Just like when you import a vehicle into the country from the United States or Mexico, there is a specific protocol that must be followed, as per Transport Canada. These measures are to ensure that the buyer is protected, that if insured other road users are protected, and that the purchase itself is entirely legal.

According to Transport Canada’s website, when importing a foreign vehicle, it must fall under at least one of the following circumstances:

1. The vehicle is 15 years old or older, based on the month and year of its manufacture, belongs to a regulated class of vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (the Act)

2. The vehicle is a bus manufactured before January 1, 1971.

3. The vehicle is non-regulated at importation, meaning it does not belong to a class of vehicle regulated under the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations.

4. The vehicle meets all Canadian standards and was purchased NEW abroad from a manufacturer. The importer should pre-authorize the vehicle’s importation with Transport Canada.

5. The vehicle is a returning Canadian-specification vehicle – originally owned in Canada – and it still complies with Canadian standards. If the importer is not the same owner prior to the vehicle leaving Canada, he must request pre-authorization from Transport Canada for the vehicle’s entry.

6. The vehicle meets U.S. safety standards and was bought NEW at retail in the U.S. prior to being shipped abroad. The vehicle also needs to qualify for import via the Registrar of Imported Vehicles.

7. The vehicle is a returning U.S. specification used vehicle originally purchased at retail in the U.S.,  and it still complies with U.S. standards. The vehicle also needs to qualify for import via the Registrar of Imported Vehicles.

How Can I Import a Car into Canada?

If the vehicle that you want to bring into the country complies with all of the regulations as outlined above, there are steps you must take to get the vehicle brought in legally, and on paper.

Before you even begin the importation process, visit the Canadian Border Services Agency’s website to know exactly what you need, how to obtain it, and what type of information you need from the vehicle you are buying (or have already bought).

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Many people choose to use a professional car importing agent to help facilitate a seamless import of their vehicle. They know exactly what documentation is needed, what requirements the CBSA needs met, and whether or not the vehicle that you’re buying complies with the Motor Vehicle & Safety Act.

They will usually take care of virtually everything for you, including checking with the CBSA & Registrar of Imported Vehicles if your vehicle is admissible to Canada. This is why many people use an agent when buying a vehicle overseas because they are almost guaranteed to be allowed to bring the vehicle into the country, as all of this information is verified before the purchase is even completed.

Do I Need to Get My Vehicle Inspected Before I Bring it to Canada?

Importing Car inspection

When bringing a vehicle into Canada from anywhere in the U.S. or Mexico, it is usually inspected by the CBSA before entry. There are certain issues that may cause a vehicle to technically fail inspection, but the CBSA will still allow it into Canada, with a time frame for the address problems to be resolved.

When the vehicle is in generally good condition, but fails an inspection for a specific issue, they will provide the buyer with a Notice & Order to have the vehicle inspected again before it can be insured.

That means, it can come into Canada, but cannot be driven until the specified issue has been rectified. There is usually a set amount of time that the buyer has to comply with the order (this will be stated on the Notice & Order).

When vehicles fail both (or multiple) inspections, and cannot be insured in Canada, Cash For Cars BC is a better option than attempting to have it returned to the previous owner. We buy vehicles that have failed the BC vehicle inspection, no matter what the issue.

Cash for Cars that Failed BC Vehicle Inspections

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Not every vehicle that comes into BC is in great shape. Some are quite honestly pretty rough around the edges. That’s because not every vehicle that is being imported is a newly bought vehicle. And when the vehicle originates from the U.S. or Mexico, it usually isn’t brand spanking new.

For the vehicles that have their age stacked against them, have mechanical issues, or simply can’t seem to pass the BC vehicle inspection without some serious money being put into them, there’s Cash For Cars BC.

We buy vehicles from $100 – $100,000+, regardless of their age or condition. From scrap cars to supercars, we buy them all. Failed inspection, collision damage, uninsurable, and anything in between; we are your best way to sell a car that is in less than perfect condition, no matter what ails it.

What Types of Vehicles Do We Buy in the Lower Mainland?

Anything and everything, regardless of age or condition. We want you to have a place that you can sell virtually anything to, no matter what it is, or what condition it’s in. No matter what you’re selling, Cash For Cars BC will almost always offer you the MOST cash for it.

We Are Always Looking to Buy:

  • Passenger cars
  • Sports cars
  • Exotic cars
  • Imports
  • Station wagons
  • Trucks
  • 4×4’s
  • Jeeps
  • SUVs
  • Crossovers
  • Vans
  • Hybrids & EVs
  • Motorcycles
  • Powersport vehicles such as quads, ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes
  • RV’s and campers
  • Boats
  • Scrap cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans

Sell Your Car to Cash For Cars BC for the MOST Cash

While we do offer the MOST cash for cars with mechanical issues or ones that have failed a vehicle inspection, we also pay the MOST cash for cars that are in good to excellent condition too.

We are an experienced and professional used car buyer that has been buying vehicles throughout Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and parts of Vancouver Island since 1998.

We can usually offer more cash for cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, and motorcycles than any local dealership of online car buyer. Plus, we make the process of selling a car quick and easy in every regard. And that starts with the fact that our car buyers come to you, not you to them.


We provide our car buying services 7 days a week, from 8:00 AM-10:00 PM. We also purchase vehicles on most statutory holidays as well. Additionally, when you sell your car to Cash For Cars BC, our car buyers are flexible in when and where they view your vehicle. That means that we can come to your home, school, work, or anywhere else that your car is located.

Once we see your car in person, we will make you an instant cash offer on it right on the spot. From start to finish, the entire process can usually take as little as 20-30 minutes. Plus, we handle all the paperwork, we come to you, and NOBODY Pays More!

By Published On: June 14th, 2024Categories: BlogTags: , ,

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About the Author: cashforcars

Cash For Cars BC is a Vancouver based used car and truck buying service. We make the process easy to sell your vehicle. We come to you and we do all the paperwork. We always offer the most cash and pay on the spot. GIve us a call, text or email today to see how we can help you sell your car in Vancouver for the most possible money.