Gifting/selling a car from Canada to the U.S.?
November 29, 2021 10:58 AM   Subscribe

A family member and I are considering a mutually convenient transaction where I'll take over ownership of his car, a 2001 Subaru. Difficulty level: He's in Canada, where the car is registered, and I'm in the U.S. .. What added difficulties should we expect and how can we make this easy on ourselves? Should he gift it or sell it — and do so in the US or Canada? Do I need to declare the car at the border? etc.

From what I've read here and elsewhere online, he should be able to sign the title over to me in person with price as "gift." I thought perhaps our being immediate family may give us some leeway here. But maybe it's more trouble than it's worth.

Some extra details:
-Car has been modified to meet Canadian safety standards
-Car probably worth ~$1,500-$2k
-I'll have insurance ready
-I can drive across border myself either way to facilitate process
-You are not our lawyer, tax advisor, etc
posted by BlackLeotardFront to Law & Government (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You need to import the car, not just declare it. Here's a guide.
posted by ananci at 12:23 PM on November 29, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks. I should probably add in case it's relevant that the car was originally bought and registered in the US then brought to Canada years ago, modified and registered there. Not sure if that affects things.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:29 PM on November 29, 2021

Best answer: Just saw the update. Reimport is very easy and free. See official link below that you can find more details towards the bottom of the page.

OG Comment:

First check on the manufacturer’s label in the driver door frame for if the vehicle is valid for U.S. distribution.. If yes then it’s pretty easy. And a 2001 subi should be fine. A Subi Legacy or Outback might have been assembled in Indiana and that means you would also not pay the 2.4% duty on it. Americans also get up to 800$ exemption, so any duties would be for above that value. You may have to pay the PST to the local provincial govt.

If the car isn’t listed for US distribution then you just wait till the car is 21 years old and import it under those lax rules.

Second: title and car info all has to match. Double check it matches. Check the actual VIN # on the car - in a couple of places.

Third: this is totally common, and can take about an hour.

Fourth: the official docs seem convoluted but remember that most of those rules are for importing a totally ‘foreign’ car that was not valid for distribution. Go through get all the forms and fill em out from the CPB site - even if get a bit incorrect it just means you’ll be filling it again in person. When you get to the border tell them you are importing the car - yes you can do it later but the actual agent will provide some level of assistance in the process.

Fifth: one thing people forget is that the car has to be clean clean- dirt is a big nope. And don’t fill it full of stuff - that is just an invitation to have the agents remove everything so they can search the car. You don’t have to be fancy but a certain presentation of sobriety goes a long way in avoiding hassle.
posted by zenon at 12:59 PM on November 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

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