Moving a car from Canada to the U.S seems like a simple transportation routine, but it’s not! There’s a lot of paperwork involved and you need to comply with many things before you can move a car to the U.S and legally drive it on the road.

Now you can of course take the shortcut and hire a car transport company to do all of this for you and also ship the car while you relax. But if you want to take things into your own hands, here’s a general idea of what you will have to do.

Buy or Sell in Canada:

This is an important one because if you think that you will just deal with the seller and make transaction after the car crosses the border then that’s going to be very difficult. As per the guidelines given by U.S Customs and Border Protection, you need to present all the document at border when entering the U.S.

These documents also include the ownership papers and the bull of sale which is only possible after you have bought the car. Non-compliance with the laws can result in penalties or even your car getting seized.

You Need to Fill Compliance Forms:

All cars that are imported into the U.S need to meet the compliance standards set by the (DOT), which is the U.S Department of Transportation and (EPA) Environmental Protection Agency. Following are the forms you are required to fill:

HS-7 DOT Form

3520-1 EPA Form

For D.O.T Compliance:

All the standards you need to meet for D.O.T compliance are stated on the form linked above. The first condition requires you to have a 25 year old car. If the car is less than 25 years old then it needs to have FMVSS safety certificate usually located under the hood or inside car door.

Now if the car doesn’t have the FMVSS certificate or has a Canadian version of it; the CMVSS then you have to contact the car manufacturer, and get them to give you a letter stating that the car conforms to the FMVSS standards. You can find list of manufacturers with contact details on this page. It also contains information regarding complete DOT safety guidelines and procedures.

For EPA Compliance:

The car needs to have a label stating that it is certified to meet the standards of U.S EPA. You can find it under the hood of the car. However, if there’s no EPA label, you will have to get a compliance letter from the U.S representative of the vehicle manufacturer stating that the car complies with the rules of U.S EPA.

Here is the list of Auto Manufacturer Representatives in the U.S that you can contact for EPA certification. You can find more up to date information regarding the import of vehicles as per EPA guidelines here.

A Few Important Considerations:

You should be able to get your car across the border by following all the guidelines and procedures set by U.S Customs Border Protection, D.O.T and EPA. However, there are a few more things you need to do to ensure you can legally keep and drive the car inside the country.

  • If you are moving from Canada, check with the relevant state if you need a driver’s license for the U.S or your Canadian one will suffice.
  • Your Canadian insurance might not work in the U.S depending on the laws of the particular state, so check this as well.
  • Your car will have to be registered to your name after some verification, so make sure to visit the nearest office for car registration ASAP.

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