Bringing a tiny house to Canada?
December 9, 2018 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I’m considering building a tiny house trailer and bringing up to my friends’ land in BC to stay in during the summer. I’ve been trying to figure out the legalities and I could use some help thinking through this.

I live in California, and I get that I have to register it an an RV, which is fine. If I leave it in BC when I leave for the winter, would I have to pay an import tax even if I’m planning to bring it back at some point? Or does it have to enter and leave with me every time to not be considered an import? Would my US insurance cover it if it’s imported or would I have to get Canadian insurance? I’ll probably have to rent a large truck to haul it, and though I’ve taken rental cars into Canada from the US before, does it change things if I’m towing a vehicle that belongs to me?

I’m very new to the whole tiny house as an RV idea, and the amount of information is both overwhelming and unhelpful for my situation. If any of you have experience, or know of a solid website or two (or someone I could ask) that would be very helpful.

I’m sure I’m not thinking of everything anyway, so all input is appreciated. If this is a terrible idea, please let me know :)
posted by ananci to Travel & Transportation around British Columbia (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: I am just a person who has spent considerable time looking at what it takes to import an RV into BC, and am going off memory, so please dont trust anything i have to say without independent verification. I think a key difference here will be whether or not the “RV” is motorized or a trailer. Since youre actually saying tiny house and need a truck, I assume its a trailer-type. Import laws are much different (and easier!) for trailers vs motorized vechicles. On phone so no links, but i did find the actual government websites for this (BC specific) reasonably useful.

That said, i hadnt heard that tiny houses are considered RVs before, so Im going to trust that assumption.

Personally, my biggest concern with be zoning laws where you are planning to park. Living in and storing an “RV” on private property are considered very different use cases.
posted by cgg at 2:21 PM on December 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Regarding the insurance, I'd think that should be no problem for your insurance agent to answer -- tons of people drive their RVs up to Canada for the summer, I'm sure they've handled it dozens of times and/or have a script from the company for the situation!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:25 PM on December 9, 2018


Are you a Canadian citizen? If not, you might need to think about how you're going to convince the Canadian border officials that you're not trying to move there permanently (and work there illegally). Do you have a permanent US address? Do you have a job that will pick back up in the fall? What other permanent ties do you have to the US? How will you pay for food, hookups, living expenses, etc. during the summer?
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:26 AM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Ah, I see I need to give some extra details.

I'm not a Canadian citizen, I'm a US citizen so I can legally spend up to 6 months a year in Canada. I will be working remotely during the summer, so finances and job-related issues are taken care of. I plan to sublease my apartment while I'm gone, and could bring a copy of this document. What other kinds of proof would they be looking for? I could have my boss sign a letter saying I am expected back by a certain date, or whatever would be the most compelling.

There are no zoning issues with where I'm planning to park / live in the trailer -- it's an unincorporated area in the mountains.
posted by ananci at 9:31 AM on December 10, 2018


ananci: "There are no zoning issues with where I'm planning to park / live in the trailer -- it's an unincorporated area in the mountains."

You are still under the authority of a regional district and possibly the province wide ALR which restricts the number of residences on controlled land. Make sure if your tiny house has blackwater that you have a plan to dispose of that. It's sewage that will get the attention of authorities that would otherwise let things slide.

You are going to find it difficult to get BC insurance on your trailer without a silver label.

ananci: " I will be working remotely during the summer, so finances and job-related issues are taken care of."

You'll want to get a firm answer on whether this is legal and or tolerated or whether you'll need a work permit. I've spent some time searching around on gc.ca and haven't found a definitive answer though some other places on the web say it isn't allowed without a permit. I'm sure there are thousands of Americans doing this but you should be aware that you might not want to volunteer your plans to CBP.
posted by Mitheral at 10:26 AM on December 10, 2018


You'll want to get a firm answer on whether this is legal and or tolerated or whether you'll need a work permit. I've spent some time searching around on gc.ca and haven't found a definitive answer though some other places on the web say it isn't allowed without a permit.

The document "Temporary Foreign Worker and International Mobility Programs: What is work?" states that so long as you're not doing a job that Canadian citizens could otherwise have the opportunity to do, it doesn't count as "work" and is allowed. In particular, the following example is specifically said not to be "work":
long distance (by telephone or Internet) work done by a temporary resident whose employer is outside Canada and who is remunerated from outside Canada;
I would think that so long as you have a letter from your employer saying that you are expected back by a certain date, and you have a copy of your lease stating that you're going to be continuing to rent your apartment after you return, then you probably won't have any trouble with the CBSA. In addition, having other evidence of your ties to the US such as health insurance policies, voter registration, bank accounts, etc. couldn't hurt. But you never know exactly what will happen when you attempt to cross an international border.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


« Older Need a new smartphone that's not iPhone and I'm...   |   Hooked on a liquid Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.