Buying a Car in the United States Instead of Canada

US Border Checkpoint
With the Canadian dollar gaining buying power recently the topic of buying a car in the United States instead of Canada has become a hot issue and seeing a great many Canadian’s thinking it’s worth the trek over the border.

I can certainly understand why the idea of buying a car in the United States instead of Canada has come to light and of course there are always a host of others that follow. As a consumer myself, I too want to know why are cars more expensive in Canada and if there is an advantage to buying in the United States as opposed to Canada. On a great many consumer products there is a great advantage, however, when it comes to buying a car in the United States instead of Canada, that becomes a different situation.

Here is a car buying tip that will certainly help and give you some things you need to be aware of if you are contemplating buying a car in the United States instead of Canada:

1. The first thing that makes buying a car in the United States instead of Canada a challenge is the fact that Dealerships have a franchise agreement which prohibits them from selling cars to anyone outside of the country. Our dollar has been lower than the US for a great long time and US consumers weren’t able to hop the border to buy cars here when they were cheaper because of that agreement. I have seen people coming in wanting to purchase a car and export it to Europe and again because of the franchise agreement the dealership wasn’t able to sell them a vehicle.

2. If you are like most Canadians you can’t just lay down the cash to purchase your car outright and have to finance. If you are buying a car in the United States instead of Canada you won’t be able to qualify for financing in the US, nor will you be able to take advantage of any of their incentives so you’ll have to use a line of credit or a bank loan. If you are thinking about using your line of credit or a bank loan keep in mind that the interest rate is much higher than what you would normally get for financing your car through the dealership in Canada.

3. If you are thinking about using your current car as a trade to lower your monthly payments, think again. The US Dealer will more likely not consider your vehicle as a trade, mainly because the market for used vehicles in the US is very healthy.

4. Travelling costs is certainly another thing to consider. If you live closer to a border crossing then of course that might not be as much as a hassle for you, you just zip over and zip back when you need to. But if you are buying a car in the United States instead of Canada and you live farther away then a day trip now becomes a weekend trip and plan on a couple of weekend trips, at least two. One to do the deal and one to go and pick up the car. The internet will certainly help you narrow down the vehicle options and where it is located but you still need more than one trip.

5. Also if you are planning on buying a car in the United States instead of Canada there are other requirements you need to meet from Transport Canada. Check first with Transport Canada to see if the car you are planning to buy is allowed into the country in the first place and if it can be modified to meet Canadian specs (ie – daytime running lights, metric speedometer and ordometer, child tether anchors and 8 km/hr bumpers). Not only are there costs associated with bringing the car up to Canadian standards there is also a fee for registering your imported car.

6. Transport Canada isn’t the only agency you will come into contact with and have a few hoops to jump. If you are buying a car in the United States instead of Canada then Customs Canada is also an agency you will be meeting up with when you cross the border. They have specific paperwork that you must have and have a time requirement as well, you can’t just buy the car and expect to bring it back right away, they have paperwork which must be submitted to them 72 hours prior to you wanting to cross back and come home.

7. Buying a used car and bringing it back isn’t as difficult and there is a huge selection with in some cases lower prices. Where you will find you’ll have to do a bit more research is in the accident history of the car and what the requirements are for importing the used car into Canada.

Buying a car in the United States instead of Canada may seem like a good plan, but, there are other things that you have to keep in mind. Do your research online first, find the vehicle that matches your car option for option. Look at the finance charges you are going to insur, take into account your travel time and time restraints for Customs. Total ALL your expenses and add it to the bottomline before you go and look at see if you are saving. Keep in mind that any sort of Government Rebates that Canada provides for vehicles (ecoAuto Rebate etc) you are NOT entitled to because your vehicle is now an import. In that regard you are leaving money on the table.

Use the internet and do your research, below you will find the contact information for the Goverment Agencies you need to talk to BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR NEW CAR BUYING decision, it is going to take work but in the end you will certainly know if buying a car in the United States instead of Canada is a good idea and what your risks are.

Good luck on your quest!

 List of Applicable Agencies

Registrar of Imported Vehicles
Fax: (416) 626-0366

Hours of service
Mon. to Fri.: 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight (EST)
Sat. and Sun.: 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST)

Canada Border Services Agency In Canada
1-800-461-9999 (English)
1-800-959-2036 (French)

Outside Canada:
(506) 636-5064 (English)
(506) 636-5067 (French)

Transport Canada In Canada
Outside Canada: (613) 998-8616
Fax: (613) 998-4831

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