Vancouver, British Columbia – With the Canadian dollar close to par, many buyers are importing vehicles from the U.S., but be careful to avoid problems, warns the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).

B.C. set a record for vehicles imported from the U.S. in 2008, with 42,922 coming into the province, more than double that imported in 2006. More than half were brought in by dealers intent on reselling them.

“It’s imperative buyers gather as much information as possible about the vehicles they’re bringing home to Canada in order to make sure it’s not flood-damaged, or has a ‘washed’ or incorrect title,” said Mark Francis, ICBC’s manager of provincial vehicle registration and licensing.

A title is considered ‘washed’ when a vehicle sustains serious damage in a crash and is coded as ‘rebuilt’ or ‘non-repairable’ in one state, but it changes hands and turns up in a neighbouring state with a ‘clear’ status.

ICBC offers the following tips:

– Check to make sure the vehicle you plan to import is admissible to Canada. For a start, check out Transport Canada’s list of vehicles, at Transport Canada. Don’t forget that vehicles brought into Canada must be modified, inspected and certified to meet safety standards.

– Get a vehicle history report, which can tell you if a car has been in a major crash, has any liens on it, or is flood damaged. ICBC will not register vehicles with a status of ‘non-repairable’ or ‘flood damaged.’ CarProof, Autocheck and CARFAX are some online services offering reports for a fee.

– You will need a complete collection of documents and forms, including title documents, registration, sales receipts, and a statement of compliance label. You should also ask for any recall letters the manufacturer has sent out. ICBC sells a ten-day insurance policy that can accompany a U.S. permit during the transition time. Once it’s on this side of the border, Canada Border Services Agency will provide the Vehicle Import Form and collect the fee on behalf of the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV).

– After payment and the recall clearance documentation have been received, RIV will forward an inspection form by email, fax or mail. Keep detailed receipts for parts and labour for the modifications to present at the time of inspection, along with Form 1 and Form 2. Canadian Tire stores carry out inspections on behalf of the RIV/Transport Canada; the vehicle must also pass a provincial inspection at a designated inspection facility.

– At this point you can register, license and insure the vehicle at any Autoplan broker. Bring the Vehicle Import Form with two stamps, the Canadian Border Service Agency document, original Certificate of Title or Certificate of Origin, and the original bill of sale.

For more information, visit the Buying, Selling and Importing a Vehicle link at ICBC.

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