Since so many people are buying boats in the US and bringing them back to Canada, we’d like to offer our extensive experience in handling the import process. As with any kind of importing transaction, it is always best to make sure your paperwork is organized and you do everything properly to avoid any kind of hassle at the border.
These are the 5 steps to follow when importing a boat to Canada.
1. Declare any cash
If you are bringing cash with you over the border to make a potential boat purchase, be sure to declare the cash at CBSA as well as US-CBP on your way down. It may take you an extra 1/2 hour stopping at the Canadian side, but it will make the US interview process a lot smoother. You can print the Canadian declaration from the internet.
When at CBSA on your way down, pick up a couple of vehicle import forms so that you can then get a headstart on filling out some of the paperwork.
Note that if you declare that you’re taking down $20,000 for a purchase, and you only pay $16,000 for the boat, CBSA is going to be looking for you to bring back $4,000 US cash (or receipts for other stuff you bought).
2. Purchasing the boat
If all goes well and you want to buy the boat, get it inspected by a marine mechanic.
US boats and trailers have a Certificate of Title document to prove ownership. The form also serves to prove there is nothing officially owing on those assets. When there’s a loan in place, the lender usually keeps hold of the title documents. If the boat seller has the titles, and the registered name matches their personal ID, then you can be assured that there are no liens on them. The seller should sign the certificate over to you.
Have the seller write up a bill of sale separating the trailer, boat, and motor. You will also need a signed and notarized bill of sale that should cover the boat, motor, and any other gear attached to the boat (stereo, GPS, depth sounder, outriggers, etc.).
It’s always a good idea to check the actual serial number stamped on the boat hull, engine, drive unit, and trailer against the titles and bill of sale.
3. Get the trailer squared away
You can use a US trailer permit to bring the trailer across, but once you are in Canada you must get Canadian Insurance (ICBC). The trailer must have a valid VIN, so call RIV (Canadian Registrar of Imported Vehicles) to find out if the VIN is valid before you buy. RIV fee (Canadian Registrar of Imported Vehicles) must be paid for trailers less than 15 years old. If the border agent instructs you to pay online, make sure they send the proper forms to RIV for you.
4. At the border
At Canada Customs, declare that you are importing a boat. Declare the value and selling price. You will need to produce ownership and bills of sale for the boat, trailer, and any removable accessories.
Sales tax may apply, depending on the province where you enter into Canada. These provinces charge PST (Provincial Sales Tax): British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba (RST), and Québec (QST). These provinces and territories charge HST (Harmonized Sales Tax): New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island. Lucky residents of Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon pay no sales tax at all.
Federal duty is not charged on boats manufactured in Canada, Mexico, or the U.S. based on NAFTA rules, currently being changed to USMCA. Most marine safety equipment is duty-free.
5. Upon returning to Canada
Mail the license plate back.
You will need to get a federal inspection on the trailer at a Canadian Tire store. Then you can buy a trailer license at a provincial Driver & Vehicle Licence Office – some provinces charge PST on used trailers. Hang on to all your receipts for 7 years in case you are asked for proof you paid proper fees and taxes.
Get an Application for Pleasure Craft License and get it off to Transport Canada.
If this process sounds daunting and you’d like to ensure a smooth border crossing, be sure to call the experts at BorderBuddy today to see how we can provide import solutions to make your life easier!