Shipping a car across international borders, regardless of destination, is often daunting. Often, the process is tied to strict regulations requiring experts’ guidance. Despite the potential challenges, sometimes shipping the car is inevitable.

You must follow procedures and complete the necessary paperwork to ship a car from Canada to the U.S.

The vital documents required for auto shipping include the DOT Form HS-7, and the EPA Form 3520-1, among others. You are also required to pay fees and pass border regulations.

How To Ship A Car From Canada To The US

Below is step-by-step guidance on how to ship a car from Canada to the U.S.:

1. Check Eligibility Of The Car

The first step of importing the car into the U.S. from Canada is to ensure that the vehicle complies with the eligibility criteria. The eligibility of the car may fall within the following main streams:

I. Permanent shipping of cars from Canada to the U.S.

If you are shipping a vehicle from Canada into the U.S. for more than a year, the shipping will be considered a permanent import.

Due to the complexity of permanent shipping, you must keenly check the U.S. import requirements of specific vehicles before purchasing the car.

Some of the guidelines for shipping a car under the permanent category include the following:

  • The vehicle must adhere to the U.S. emissions standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Payment of duty depending on the country of manufacture
  • The vehicle must adhere to U.S. safety guidelines
  • The vehicle owner must complete all paperwork on the permanent import of vehicles.

II. Temporary shipping of cars from Canada to the U.S.

If the car you are shipping from Canada to the U.S. will be in the States for less than a year, then the shipping will be regarded as a temporary or informal import.

As long as you have proof that the vehicle will be in the U.S. for less than a year, the process is often easier than permanent import.

Some of the guidelines about quick shipping of cars into the U.S. from Canada include the following:

  • The owner of the car has to complete the CBP Form 3299 and declare everything inside the car
  • The carrier must have a permission letter to ship the car to the U.S.
  • The carrier must have copies of the vehicle documentation, including the driver’s passport, license, vehicle registration, and travel information showing the duration of the car inside the U.S.

III. US-registered vehicles are returning from Canada to the U.S.

For US-registered vehicles returning from Canada, some of the general guidelines for shipping the car are as follows:

  • The auto hauler must prove that the vehicle is US-registered
  • The car must have been in Canada for less than a year
  • The car owner must complete the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) paperwork

Once you determine that the car is eligible for importation into the U.S., ensure you get the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stickers attached to the car.

Individuals can take advantage of vehicle relocation companies or customs brokers to understand the different eligibility criteria to ensure smooth transit of the car.

2. Prepare the Required Documentation

You must complete and submit all the required paperwork depending on the streams for shipping the car.

The following are some of the documents that you must complete accurately before shipping the car:

  • DOT Vehicle Declaration Form (HS-7): The Department of Transportation (DOT) Vehicle Declaration declares detailed information on the vehicle, including the make, model, and year. Furthermore, the document will include details of the person importing the car, and the registration details, among other vital information.
  • EPA Vehicle Declaration Form (3520-1): The EPA Vehicle Declaration form is often required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to import vehicles and equipment subject to federal air pollution regulations.
  • U.S. Customs or Commercial Invoice: The commercial invoice reveals the price and value of the car, which is used to determine the payable taxes and duties.
  • Vehicle registration copy
  • U.S. Vehicle Insurance

For accurate documentation, it is often advisable to seek the help of firms to complete and prepare the car’s documentation and shipping.

3. Select The Carrier

In many instances, you may be unable to travel across the border, hence the need to engage a hauling company or a carrier. Once you review the different companies that can help transit the car, you can choose between the following shipping methods:

I. Open Auto shipping

The car is shipped on an extended, two-level trailer in open auto shipping. This type of transportation is often suitable for most vehicles, especially used cars or standard models.

II. Enclosed Auto shipping

The car is shipped on a vehicle carrier with a fully enclosed trailer in enclosed auto-shipping. This option offers security and protection to the car in transit. Consequently, the choice is primarily for new cars, vintage cars, or collectibles.

4. Clean The Vehicle Before Shipping

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), all undercarriage of the imported vehicle should not have foreign soil at the time of entry into the U.S.

These regulations act as a method of bio-risk management since they safeguard against the entry of dangerous pests.

As a result of the USDA requirements, you must clean or steam-spray your car before the shipping process.

5. Emptying Of The Car

Shipping the car without personal belonging eliminates any inconveniences of losing personal items during transit, mainly because the carrier is not liable for theft. Furthermore, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) required the declaration of all contents in the car during entry.

What Is The Cost Of Shipping A Car From Canada To The U.S.?

Usually, the cost of shipping a car from Canada to the U.S. is not fixed. Instead, the cost varies based on the following factors:

  • The original location and the destination of the car
  • The season of shipping
  • The transportation method chosen
  • Other uncontrollable factors such as expenses on regulatory fees and import duties, and gas prices.

Generally, shipping a car from Canada to the U.S. requires adherence to strict processes and procedures.

As a result, it is recommended for car owners to seek expert guidance on the shipping processes to avoid challenges at the Canada-US border.