We have the license plates on our car and here's how it all worked. Yes, we saved A LOT of money by doing it. I suggest you at least think about it when you start purchasing a subie.
Disclaimer: I am not offering a legal or any kind of professional advice in this post -- described below is my PERSONAL experience. Please make your own due diligence if you decide to import a car yourself. I have no relationship with any dealerships either.
I would like to thank Joe Spitz from Carter Subaru in Seattle
) for his assistance. Joe made this experience enjoyable -- no playing games -- it was pure business.
We have decided to import our new 2006 OB VDC because the BC dealers did not really want to negotiate much -- it was mostly take it or leave it option. We have sensed that the US dealers are more flexible and we could save some major $$$.
The first step was to contact the Registrar of Imported Vehicles
. They have a web page with a step by step process what you have to do. The 2006 models are NOT listed as importable, however after several phone calls we have received a letter from the RIV which we were to present on the border and they certified the 2006 Outbacks as importable. An interesting note: don't get discouraged if you speak with the first rep at RIV and they tell you a car is not importable. I learned by experience that there are some better and worse reps there. If you can't get anywhere, ask to leave a voicemail to Natasha (I can't remember her last name) or Gary Moriarty.
Make sure you phone Canada Customs
and verify the import duty you will have to pay for the car. If the car is made in the US and it contains at least 50% of US/Canadian parts, then there is NO duty. It must also have a sticker MADE IN US and it must comply with all applicable US federal standards. THIS IS THE MOST CRUCIAL STEP in the whole process. DO YOUR DUE DILLIGENCE ON THIS
(sorry for screaming, but you must do it). Based on my experience there's no duty on legacy/outbacks. It might be on other subaru cars if they don't fall under NAFTA.
With the RIV letter in hand I emailed a request for a quote to 4 or 5 dealerships in Washington state. We knew the exact model, colour, etc. we wanted. They all responded with quotes. After some haggling back and forth for about a week we have chosen to deal with Joe from Carter Subaru. He prepared all paperwork and faxed it over for us to check it. I acknowledged the order by email.
Our car was a factory order and the car arrived on time as promised by Joe. Joe is a straight shooter and he never over-promissed anything. Again, the paperwork was faxed to us, we wired the money after it was delivered to the dealership.
the US Vehicle Export Team requires the title and invoice to be faxed at least 3 business days before the car is exported. Phone them and they will fax you an information package that has all instructions. You have to phone them after you faxed the documents again to make sure all paperwork is legible and OK before you show up on the border. They responded in precisely 74 hours (3 days and 2 hours
) after we faxed the papers.
The car was ready for us when we showed up at the dealership. Also, all paperwork was ready. If we didn't have kids with us, it would take us about an hour to go through the car and papers and we'd be gone. No hassle whatsoever cudos to Joe who also made sure that one minor thing got fixed on the spot.
once we showed up on the border, it was a 2 min process to rubber stamp the title with the border stamp in order to mark it as legally exported.
Canadian Border and Customs:
the customs agent knew exactly what to do and what forms to fill out. He also phoned the RIV and arranged for the payment of our RIV fee so we didn't have to do it
VIP treatment all the way -- nothing to complain about. We paid the GST and the AC tax, no customs duty because the Outbacks are made in Indiana. We received the Form 1 (which describes the vehicle).
After that we drove home and parked our car. Now the waiting happens -- you have to receive FORM 2 from the RIV. Phone the RIV a couple of days after you import the car and verify that they have received a copy of the FORM 1. Our form 1 was not legible when it came through the fax from the customs. The RIV is going to ask you for a case number -- this is the red number on the right top corner of your form 1. This process can take 10 days so be patient
I had to phone the SoA as well to get the "recall clearance letter"
which is required for the federal inspection.
After we received the form 2, we have arranged the federal inspection
. All Canadian Tires across the country are contracted to perform this inspection. However, BC requires a provincial inspection
as well -- if you are not from BC verify what is required in your province. Again, Canadian Tire did this one for us as well.
The last step was to get the insurance and license plates
. Find a knowledgeable insurance broker and ask him/her if he's registered imported cars before. They get a copy of almost every paper you have, you pay the insurance and the PST, license plate fee, etc. And you are DONE.
OK, how much did all cost:
- Carter Subaru: Joe has gone under the invoice price right off the bat, threw in the cash-back rebate and this was our "drive off the dealership yard" price (all inclusive) - you can check the invoice prices here http://www.cars101.com/subaru_prices.html and compare this with Canadian subie prices)
- WA state tax $0 (non-WA residents don't pay the state tax)
- GST 7% on the converted USD price
- PST 7% on the converted USD price
- Import Duty $0 (made in the US, falls under NAFTA --> 0% duty)
- RIV fee $209
- AC tax $100
- Federal inspection $0 (included in the RIV fee)
- Provincial inspection $128
- Total - well, you have a calculator
Did it make sense? Yes in our case -- just be patient. The only minus are the odometer in miles (speedometer has both miles/hr and km/hr) and the paperwork / lengthy process.