18 April 2016

Buying, selling or trading classics across borders

More than three-fourths of Canada’s population lives within 150 kilometers of the U.S. border. Despite warm relations between the countries, the 6,400-kilometer border with the continental U.S. presents formidable barriers, both real and psychological, to the movement of collector cars.

Adam Horodnyk is vice president of TFX International, a leading auto transporter based in Etobicoke, Ontario. He’s also a car guy who very likely knows as much about the movement of collector cars back and forth across the border as anyone on the planet.

“Because of the exchange rate, 85 percent of the cars sold are moving from Canada to the U.S.,” Horodnyk said, “and about 15 percent are going the other way, mainly because the selection is better south of the border.”

“Most Canadian sellers are leaving money on the table by not having a plan to target U.S. buyers,” he said. “By just listing your car on Kijiji in Ontario, or in Toronto or Vancouver on Craigslist, you’re invisible to most U.S. buyers.”

Horodnyk advises a different approach: “Come up with your price in U.S. dollars. Then get your car in front of an American audience either on eBay or a Craigslist site – Buffalo or Detroit for Ontario, or Seattle for the Vancouver area.”

He also suggests researching customs issues so you can help buyers and put them at ease. “Most Americans don’t have a clue about customs and duty, so it’s always good to have a customs broker’s phone number that you can give a buyer,” Horodnyk said. “They usually charge anywhere from $300 to $800 U.S. to clear a car. The U.S. charges 2.5 percent duty to import a foreign car.”

While it is possible to sell an American a late model North American-spec car (and Horodnyk says that selling Americans late-model exotics is a brisk business) be wary of advertising to American buyers if that car was never sold new in the U.S. and it’s less than 25 years old. Canada has a 15-year rule for importing cars that don’t conform to Canadian emissions and safety regulations; in the U.S., it’s 25 years. In most cases, an American buyer will not be able to register a nonconforming car under 25 years old and may even have to re-export the car or face having it confiscated and crushed.

If you’re considering importing a car from the U.S. – your favorite car might be waiting for you in rust-free California – Horodnyk again advises employing a customs broker. “The U.S. side is by far the most difficult. Get an American customs broker,” he says. “They’ll handle getting an ITN, or Internal Transaction Number, for you. The U.S. authorities are generally on the lookout for stolen cars or anything that involves homeland security, and they can be really tough.”

Once you get into Canada, it’s fairly straightforward. You pay 6.1 percent duty if it’s less than 25 years old and you’ll pay Provincial Sales Tax at the applicable rate – and that’s it.

4 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Robert Coristine Wyoming Ontario April 29, 2016 at 15:04
    I find it interesting that the author thinks it is hard to bring a classic car from the U.S. to Canada. I have imported 2 classic (+25yrs) cars and, providing you follow the U.S. customs rules, it is really a piece of cake. DO provide the pre information in plenty of time. DO NOT just show up at the border with your car as you will incur the wrath of U.S. Customs officers and no doubt your car will sit in impound for an undetermined amount of time. I have found that our Canadian Customs people were the worst to deal with as they have a hard time accepting what you say you paid for the car because they always think you are undervaluing to avoid paying the tax when you bring it in. Thanks
  • 2
    Darren Woodbridge April 29, 2016 at 20:12
    Not quite true-6.1 % duty only applies to non-North American produced vehicles. North American produced vehicles are duty free. Only cost is the R.I.V. fee-(approx 220.00 which includes the cost of Canadian certification) , provincial Certification, and if applicable, emission testing.
  • 3
    mike mcquade gilford ont April 30, 2016 at 08:39
    where can I get info on Canadian made (oakvlille) 58 ford custom fordor?
  • 4
    Scott Liverance Waterloo ON. July 16, 2017 at 22:24
    Im looking to import a 68 Mustang from Georgia with no title , the state doesnt have titles as I understand . I have imported cars and a RV with no problems , will this be an issue ?

Join the Discussion