How to Bring a Truck into Canada

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After you find your Hummer, the work begins on how to import it and the steps you have to go through to make it the least frustrating. From a purely personal observation, my experience is that government is NOT your friend - take every precaution to ensure they cannot put sticks in your wheels!

One of my readers sent me this info on registering Hmmwv's. The first thing to remember when importing vehicles is that RIV only has jurisdiction over vehicles that are 15 years old or newer. The majority of military surplus Humvees are older than that, therefore RIV is not involved, and there is no Federal inspection required for the vehicle. It simply gets a Provincial safety and then gets registered.

This was the case for the two vehicles that I'm familiar with, except that both were prototypes (serial numbers in the low 100's), and both crossed the border as 'Salvage Title' meaning that they required rebuilding and a structural inspection prior to registration. The folks at ICBC are better than many provinces at handling unusual VINs (it's a safe bet that a military Humvee has a non-standard VIN) they will allow Humvees to be registered with either the military serial number, or with a BC assigned VIN. An assigned VIN requires an application to be filled out, and an inspection facility to apply the VIN Plate after the vehicle has passed it's Provincial safety inspection. I have been told that a BC assigned VIN makes it easier to register the vehicle in other provinces.

Basically (at least in BC) it's no harder to register a military hummer (or a military Unimog, which I have also registered) than it is to register any other privately imported truck.

Note that a Unimog is classified as a tractor/ stationary powerplant, not an on road truck. This was done so Mercedes could avoid terrifs when bringing them into the US. In the US you can't drive a tractor or off road construction equipment on a road as a daily driver similar to an ATV. This poses a problem for US owners. In Canada you can drive these kinds of vehicles on the road once they are brought up to standard.

Any civilian Hummer (except those that have a salvage/non-rebuildable title) can be brought in and registered successfully. To satisfy yourself, go to the Registrar of Imported Vehicles website at and check the list of allowable imported vehicles.

Have your vehicle checked by an independent mechanic prior to buying - if you have not seen the vehicle spend the few bucks necessary to give yourself some peace of mind. Be aware that even this may not find all of the problems - in my case the vehicle was advertised as having a "new engine" - but it turned out only the short block had been replaced. After I got it home I found one of the old heads was cracked. Allow for stuff like this in your initial purchase price - leave some wiggle room for repairs. Also make sure that all liens have been released - an outstanding one can stop you from exporting the vehicle until it is satisfied.

O.K., after you have done all the negotiating and have parted with your cash, you now own a Hummer in the U.S. and you need to get it into Canada and subsequently have it registered. With Free Trade that should be easy right????? ONLY IF YOU FOLLOW ALL OF THE STEPS IN ORDER AND LEAVE NOTHING OUT.

Step one:
U.S. customs requires a CERTIFIED copy of the title and bill of sale 3 working days prior to the vehicle coming across the border. The papers have to be at the border crossing you will be using - you can't drop them off at say, Cornwall and then come over at 1000 Islands. Saturdays and Sundays do not count, so if the papers get there on Friday, you won't be able to bring the vehicle over until the following Wednesday. If at all possible, take the papers personally to the border crossing you will be using and make a connection with one of the border people. While you are there, go to the Canadian side and explain to them what you are doing - it just eases the way. If you can't get there in person, send the paperwork by registered mail and follow up with a phone call to make sure it got there. Get the name of the customs agent you speak to and don't be shy to use it every time you deal with them. The same goes for the Canadian side.

Step two:
Go and get your truck and have fun driving it back to Canada. (you can have a shipper bring it in but it could take a few weeks. As I didn't use a shipper I won't get into that area). Make sure that the bill of sale and the title have all the necessary signatures on them. As an example, if the title has two names on it, make sure the bill of sale has the same two names. Present the truck and yourself at the U.S. customs post (some posts have specific hours for bringing vehicles across, check prior to getting there). They will check the paperwork against their records, verify that it is the correct vehicle (VIN check), stamp your paperwork (the ORIGINAL title and bill of sale). They may also search the vehicle, although they did not in my case.

Step three:
After clearing U.S. customs, head through to the Canadian side. You will be asked to park the truck and go into the office to complete the paperwork. They are looking for the stamped original title from U.S. customs and the bill of sale. You will complete a couple of forms at Canadian customs, the Registrar of Imported Vehicles Form 1 and the G.S.T. declaration. G.S.T. is charged at the border on the Canadian equivalent of the purchase price as shown on the bill of sale, there will also be the R.I.V. charge ($175 in Ontario) and the air tax of $100. Some customs posts will charge an overweight vehicle fee, mine at Cornwall did not. Fees can be paid by VISA or Mastercard.

Step four:
R.I.V. is supposed to send you a Form 2 within 10 days of the vehicle crossing into Canada. In my case this did not happen and after I checked 3 weeks later the nice R.I.V. folks told me that the Form 1 that was faxed to them by Canadian customs was illegible, so they just put it to one side. Moral of this story is - if you don't have the Form 2 10 days after you bring the truck in, call R.I.V. and find out what the problem is, as you cannot register the truck without a completed Form 2. If you bug them enough they will fax the from to you.

Step five:
Probably the least you will need is daytime running lights installed on your truck. You also need to have all open recalls done, as well as any of those other pesky repairs I mentioned above. While it is more expensive, you will be much further ahead if you can get an authorized Hummer letterhead stating that the work has been done and that there are no open recalls left on your particular truck. If you do not use a Hummer dealer, you will have to get the letter from a dealer or from AMG yourself.

Step six:
Now you head off to an authorized R.I.V. inspection station (It is Canadian Tire here in Ontario) to have the Form 2 completed (this costs nothing as the cost is built into the original R.I.V. fee you paid at the border). Take all of the paperwork with you, it's better to have it there when they ask for it!

Step seven:
After getting the Form 2 stamped by the inspection station, take ALL of your paperwork to the licence bureau. The things they are looking for specifically are:
a) Original title
b) Bill of sale
c) G.S.T. form that you were given at Canadian customs
d) Completed R.I.V. Form 2.

If all of these are in order, they will then extract the Provincial sales tax from you based on the bill of sale purchase price, the plate fee and the road tax. They will then give you your new plates and ownership. YOU ARE DONE!

One further thing - if you import a 4 door pick-up or an open top, in Ontario you will be required to have an annual heavy diesel safety check. This does not apply to the wagon - go figure!

It took me four weeks to get through the process. It could have been done in two if I had been more on the ball, your experience may vary!