It's Easy to Import an RV to Canada!

by Barbara Shelly & Jake Dyck
(Nanaimo, BC)

Huatabampito, Mexico

Huatabampito, Mexico

January 2010,

Hi Marianne and Randy,
The last time we spoke was at the end of October (2008) from Utah (Big Mesa and Lake Powell). We are now in Mazatlan, Mexico! Gorgeous as usual. Daytime is 28 deg., and nights are cool enough for sleep. We cruised down through all the beaches we could find, often boondocking at the Pemex gas stations. We love it here.

Last year (March, 2009) we imported a 2001 Winnebago Journey diesel pusher from Arizona to BC. It was a snap. We feel our biggest ally in all of this was our sales lot. We dealt with RV World in Yuma which is a family-owned company that does not move about with the seasons. We can't say enough good things about this very reputable company. And no, we don't have shares!

We did all the research on the task, mostly from the RIV site, and knew what we were getting into. One very important step is checking RIV to be sure the vehicle-of-choice is importable.

These totally nice folks are used to dealing with Canadians, and have a reference binder they use to make sure all is in order. They phone the Canadian Customs at your chosen point-of-entry to make sure they will accept Importations. (Some crossings do not in BC). Our usual route was not on the list, so they called the next closest one. When we got to the border, we first had to "Export" the vehicle from the US. Some people have had a wait of up to three days while their papers were processed -- not us! RV World had faxed ahead to the US side all that was needed for our Export -- it took 5 minutes to sign the paper work.

We then proceeded to the Canadian side which took a little longer -- 45 minutes to fill in all the blanks and pay the GST. (soon HST for both of us!). Once again, RV World Yuma had sent ahead all that was needed, and we carried copies. No inspection; were on our way.

We bought our rig on the 18th of December, 2008 (nice Christmas present!), and stayed in the US until the 16th March on our 90-day permit. Our insurance needs were covered by Progressive Insurance, mostly on-line. We had to have a phone call to complete because nobody wants a Canadian credit card!!

It was quite simple to have our vehicle inspected to make sure it complied with the Canadian regulations before licensing. In BC, Canadian Tire was the unlikely source of inspection and paperwork!

Our only hiccup was on the day we entered Canada. Even though we had a one-year policy, our US vehicle insurance from Progressive was void after Exporting/Importing. We drove through Vancouver and onto the ferry to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, blissfully ignorant of the fact that we had NO insurance. Yikes. Now we know. (Progressive gave us an immediate refund).

We would not hesitate to Import again. In fact, that is our plan for this coming year. It truly helps to keep ahead of the depreciation by buying in US and selling at home. We do not plan to be Professional Hagglers, but our tastes are always more than we can afford *grin*. We boondocked around Mexico for 14 years, starting with an old 24 foot C-class, no tow car, and relied on the vendors to bring us vegetables and water. It has always been marvelous fun -- just us and our kayaks. Now we are a little longer-in-the-tooth and are enjoying the comforts of enormous tanks -- but still count the drops!

Your picture, "The view from our patio doors" is wonderful and so descriptive. As always, we love your Tips and Newsletters, and look forward to your next adventure!

Regards, Barbara Shelly-Dyck

PS. Please feel free to edit and use any of this rambling you wish. B.

Comments for It's Easy to Import an RV to Canada!

Click here to add your own comments

Jul 08, 2012
US plates...
by: Brad

Sometimes, the vehicle you purchase will have a valid plate on it; in some states, the plate simply stays with the vehicle. It's if the plate is expired that you have to figure out how to obtain valid registration.

Sep 24, 2011
Border Crossing
by: Red

So with a new fw bought in the states, Going to Canada. Do i need to stop at the US side first then the Canadian side? Or just the Canadian side with my paper work?
Thanks for the help

Sep 17, 2011
Easier than it First Appeared
by: Keith

We were in Palm Springs in March, 2011, so had the opportunity to look for a Diesel Pusher. Found more than one that would have been acceptable, so then checked out the RIV, insurance, licensing and payment options.

For the Coach we bought, ICBC insured it, both liability, collision and comprehensive, on a phone call and over the phone credit card. They emailed the temporary license, same as when you buy a one day permit for your car at home, so we were good for the trip home, so long as we took a direct route and were home inside of 18 days. They also extended that when we got delayed at the border for a couple more weeks.

The only problem we had was due to being newbies, we didn't know that we needed the original "deed" until the US Customs asked for it, and the seller had to order it from the California DMV, as none had ever been needed while the Coach lived there. That took a full two weeks, and while we waited, the Coach was stored in Ferndale, Washington. Once the deed was in our hands, less than an hour at the border, got us through both US and Canadian Customs.

ICBC needed the weight on each axle, so we stopped at the Port Mann Westbound scales and got a printout of the weights, then right to the ICBC office for plates. After the plates, we went to Canadian Tire for the modification to make the lights "daytime running lights" and they faxed the form to RIV.

The sticker came in the mail in a few days, and the process was complete.

I have been watching the ads for the last three years, and while I think we got a good deal, the price is really less of an issue than the selection. Canadian sellers just never had what we wanted, but it was easy to find in the Palm Springs area, for what we thought was a very reasonable price, if not an outright steal.

Apr 10, 2011
On the second thought...
by: Al

Disregard my previous comment on insuring from Progressive and the likes. Insurers are fast to sell but slow to honor the insurance - they might refuse to pay if they find that your US address was not real or permanent.

If you do want more than a liability insurance (it's not that you have to), you'd better talk to local Autoplan/ICBC agent before going South. I recall situation with people getting short-term ICBC insurance for a towed trailer while being in the US already, via a few faxes and phone calls to Autoplan agent. ICBC won't sell a longterm insurance until after the registration in BC.

Apr 10, 2011
by: Al

Cathy - if you accept a comment from a "wannaby" (me);
Yes, permit to operate (a.k.a. Temporary License) is not an insurance.

You don't have to obtain a US insurance for a trailer towed to Canada - pickup insurance from the province will cover the trailer, but only as a liability - it won't cover your trailer damages if you're at fault. No big deal if it's a midsize trailer that costs around US$ 10,000 new. For a motorhome - don't know but suspect that provincial insurance for your car back in BC will extend a liability on this new motorhome as well.

From what I've learned, you CAN obtain full insurance from US-based insurer if you have a US mailing address. There are good commercial (non-government) mail-forwarding services in any major town. "Good" I mean that address looks - Jane Doe 123 Nowhere Street 7891 (Zip code) Nowhere State. It shouldn't sound like PO box. Probably most RV parks will let you use their address as well.

Apr 10, 2011
Permit vs Insurance
by: Khat Sass

I'm a bit confused. A permit to operate is not insurance, and how I read the quote from Progressive is that you need to have a US adress to insure (not permit). So, am I correct in reading that one can obtain a permit to operate but you cannot have insurance coverage??? It's a bit confusing. Cathy in BC.

Feb 27, 2011
Licence Plate
by: Anonymous

"How you managed to get a plate on your RV, without being a USA resident? "

Not sure how old is this blog - there are no dates; anyway, - they did NOT get a real licence plate. They got a paper sealed in plastic, it remotely a resembled licence plate, and it was valid for 90 days. RV dealers in the US provide this temporary "paper plate", though I didn't know it was possible to get a temporary registration for 90 days.

I wonder what Mexican customs office would say about that "paper licence plate" if I were to go to Baja before heading north to home? True, an import permit is not required in Baja, but a licence plate is still needed.

Jan 18, 2010
Update re Progressive Insurance
by: Marianne

Just wanted to clear up the question about insurance coverage. I made some phone calls and also had email correspondence with Progressive Insurance Company in the states.The following quote from the final email I recieved from them, basically sums it up:

"Please note that we are able to provide you coverage if your motor home is kept in the US. However, you would need to be able to provide a permanent US mailing address as well. If you are not able to provide a permanent US mailing address, we will not be able to assist you with your insurance needs. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

Jason H.
Progressive Internet Representative

Jan 09, 2010
RE: Plate
by: Barb

Hi Marianne,
We did not need a "plate" on our motorhome. Our 90-day permit from The Department of Motor Vehicles Arizona gave us a paper number, encased in plastic, which rode on the rear of our coach for three months. It was legal in every state. We did not have to turn it in to anyone, and kept it for a souvenir! The dealer arranged this for us, also.

And another goody: we purchased in Arizona, got a permit in Arizona, but took delivery in California and avoided any hassle with State Taxes. There weren't any! This is particularly easy in Yuma, because California is less that five minutes away.

Happy hunting, Barb

Jan 09, 2010
How To Get Licence Plate?
by: Marianne (moderator)

Thanks Barbara,

Will definitely check into the Progessive Insurance company. They probably are fine but don't know if its one of the companies that Wayfarer (our Ontario insurance company) warned me about.

I'm wondering how you managed to get a plate on your RV, without being a USA resident?

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Import An RV.

Copyright© 2021
All tips and advice on this web site are purely the personal opinion of the author who assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences resulting from following said advice.