November 21, 2007

Buyers importing U.S. vehicles through unlicensed agents can run afoul of the law, warns B.C. authority

Burnaby, British Columbia – Consumers who attempt to import vehicles from the U.S. by using unlicensed agents behaving as dealers may be participating in illegal behaviour, warns Ken Smith, Registrar of Motor Dealers in B.C.

“Canadians are certainly entitled to purchase vehicles outside of this country, and bring them here, as long as they comply with all federal and provincial import, taxation and licensing guidelines,” Smith said, “but any unlicensed third party who earns income from facilitating the process is breaking the law.”

The Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of B.C. (VSA) is delegated by the government to administer the Motor Dealer Act and related regulations, as well as other statutes concerning the retail sale of motor vehicles, with a mandate to serve both consumers and industry. Motor vehicle dealers and all salespeople must be licensed, and standards of practice are clearly defined.

“When there is a rapid change in currency values it can take some time before it works its way through the system,” Smith said. “It is a very difficult period for Canadian dealers who have issues both with the manufacturers they represent and also the rapid devaluation of their used vehicle inventories.” Smith said that he is confident the industry will adjust quickly, and notes that many B.C. dealers are legally importing large volumes of used vehicles from the U.S. to Canada and offering them for sale at beneficial pricing.

Anyone considering importing a vehicle from the U.S. should visit and follow the instructions carefully. Buyers of new cars should determine in advance all warranty issues; those proposing to import a used vehicle should conduct a professional vehicle history search, such as that offered by CarProof at

“Our principle concern is that the most unsavoury people in the B.C. car business, many with criminal records, have seized upon this currency anomaly for profit,” Smith said. “The simple test for consumers is to ask anyone selling either vehicles or agent services to produce their VSA license. If they don’t have one, they are breaking the law.”

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