The Import Process 

How to import a motorcycle from the USA into Canada

<previous>                                                                                <Home>                                                                                <next>

Import Cost
You will have to pay PST and GST on a new bike, just as if it were purchased in Canada, but your paying on a lower purchase price. If you’re buying used, you will still have to pay GST since it was not collected when the bike was first purchased, like it would have been on a Canadian bike.

As for import fees, you only to pay a $195 dollar ($206 w/tax) Import Registration fee. That’s it, and that includes the cost of your vehicle inspection.

Note: Additional duty or tax may apply to vehicles not made in the US. I did not research that topic.

Addendum: May 7th, 2007

While going through Canada Customs yesterday, I stopped to ask about duty on non-US made motorcycles, specifically those made in Europe and Japan.

I was told that a standard 6.1% duty is applied to all motorcycles being imported into Canada other than those made in the USA. There is no duty applied to US made motorcycles.

I know some of you may ask, what about bikes "assembled" in the US? Having worked in manufacturing in the past, I know there are specific formulas that determine if a product can claim to be "Made in the USA." What that formula is is not important as it's not one you have to deal with -- the manufacturer will make that determination and classify their product accordingly. Basically, if the manufacturer claims the bike to be "made in the US" you don't have to pay duty, but if they don't, add 6.1% onto your purchase cost because Canada Customs will collect it when you cross the border.

Before the Border
All vehicles leaving the US for import into another country must first be cleared by US Customs.

In the Vancouver, BC area, this can only be done through the US Customs office at the Hwy-15 (Truck) crossing. US Customs has a separate office in their building just for this process – an indicator of how common it has become. Getting your export stamp is a 2-stage process; providing the proper paperwork at least 72 hours before arriving at the border and then the actual crossing and paperwork verification.

At least 72 hours before arriving at the border with your bike, you have to fill out a simple one page form and provide a copy of your bill of sale or dealer invoice and a copy of the vehicle’s Title or Certificate of Origin if it’s a new vehicle. You can provide these up to 2 months before you plan to cross and if you fax the documents to them, it’s your responsibility to make sure they got there.

There office is only open 8:00 – 3:30 Monday to Friday so you’ll have to time your crossing accordingly. For me, it added 1 1/2 days to my trip home so I added some miles by taking a more scenic route. When you get to the border, they may or may not check the VIN and then they’ll stamp the 1-page form you filled out and you’re on your way.

Addendum: May 7th, 2007

After receiving a couple of requests for the US Customs Vehicle/Equipment Export Worksheet, I visited the Blaine, WA border crossing, got a copy of the forms and asked a few questions about the export process at other border crossings. This revealed some important information - the forms used and hours of operation vary by border crossing. Check with whichever border crossing you plan to take and request a copy of their Vehicle/Equipment Export Worksheet.

To give you an idea of what to expect, I've included a link to download a copy of the worksheet, instructions and FAQ I received from the Blaine, WA border crossing, known locally as the Pacific Hwy. or truck crossing. It's in PDF format - requires Adobe Reader.

Click to download: Veh_Export_Worksheet_BlaineWA.pdf

Canada Customs
Now you’re off to Canada Customs – have you cheque book or charge card ready.

After declaring your purchase you’ll be sent inside to talk to a Customs Officer. They’ll want to see the Title or Certificate of Origin, Bill of Sale, and the stamped US export document from US Customs.

Be prepared, they may also want to see some proof of payment. Individuals have been known to lowball their purchase price to reduce taxation. In my case, I wired the payment to the seller and brought along a copy of my wire request form from my bank and a copy of the sellers bank confirmation of the wire received. They didn’t ask for either – I guess I look honest.

Customs will have you fill in your name and address information on a “Vehicle Import Form – Form 1”, generally just referred to as “Form 1”, then they’ll complete the form. They’ll check the bike to verify its VIN and record its date of manufacture (on the VIN sticker). Once that’s done, you’ll be asked for make you first of 3 Canadian government donations – payment of the GST. If you get air miles on your Visa or MasterCard, now’s a good time to collect a few.

Once the GST is paid you’ll get your copy of the “Form 1”. Before leaving the Customs office, make sure a couple of vital pieces of information are clearly legible on your Form 1 so you don’t, have to go back for clarification like I did. To make your RIV payment, you’ll need the officer’s badge number ( upper right corner of the form) and the Transaction Number. My guy stamped over his badge number it making it illegible.

Now it’s time to pay the vehicle import registration fee and get your approval stamp. The steps are outlined on the RIV website (, but there is a faster way.

Expediting the Import Process
If you rely upon our postal system for the import paperwork, the process could drag on for over a month. If you utilize the internet, telephone and email or fax, it can all be done in a day. It took me 1 1/2 days as I relied on bad information from a Canada Customs Officer on what had to be sent to the RIV office.

(1) After you’ve brought the bike across the border, go to the RIV website and pay the $195 (plus tax) online.

(2) Fax or scan a copy of the “Form-1” (filled out at Canada Customs) and email it and your payment receipt number to the RIV office. Ask them to fax or email your “Vehicle Inspection Form” (Form-2) to you ASAP.

(3) If your Vehicle Inspection Form has not arrived by 2:00 PM (ETS) that or the following day, give RIV a phone call to check its status. It’s likely complete and waiting to go out.

(4) Go to the nearest designated inspection stations, probably a Canadian Tire, and remember not to laugh when the “inspector” asks you where the VIN is. All they’ll do is recheck the VIN and date of manufacturer – exactly the same as the Canadian Customs officer checked only a few hours ago.

You’ve got to love government bureaucracy – just be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for! ;)

(5) Give him your growing stack of paper, including your Recall Documents printed from the Honda website. He’ll fax it all to the RIV office and place his official stamp to your Vehicle Inspection Form.

(6) Take your stamped Vehicle Inspection Form and cheque book to your local insurance and license plate dispenser and you’re good to go.

A few weeks later you’ll receive a label from RIV which is to be applied to the frame of your bike.