I had a buddy who has imported a full on buggy into Ontario. here is a writeup he did on his experience
Have you ever wondered about importing a buggy from the U.S.?
Well I wondered, and after a lot of research, I finally was able to get one. I figured some people would be interested in the process, and who to contact. So here it is:
1) Find the buggy you like:
There are an endless number of buggies for sale on the internet. Most of them, I found on Pirate 4x4. They vary widely in price, depending on the build. There is a range currently of around $78,000 all the way down to around $6,000. I was totally uneducated when it came to knowing what to look for exactly. There are some really good builders out there, and there is also some real cheese being built by guys in their back yard. Fortunately, I had some assistance from a good friend who was quite knowledgeable in this area.
Due to the long distances that can be involved, make sure the seller is somewhat reputable. How long has the person been on the forum (using Pirate as an example)? Is there a build thread to look at? In my case, I was fortunate to find one I wanted, that had a build thread, as well as being sold by a reputable buggy shop.
Make sure the rig you're looking at is actually a buggy, and not a "truggy". As I discovered, a "truggy" or anything that USED to be something else, falls under a different category. To be allowed to import it, it must not have been a regular vehicle in a former life. If it was "titled" and then modified, you cannot import it into Canada.
2) Contact the RIV (Registrar of Imported Vehicles).
This is a first step to confirm that the rig you are wanting to import, is not of a prescribed class that is regulated. The contact for them is: [email protected]
I sent them pictures of the buggy I was interested in, and they wrote back to confirm it did not fall under their type of vehicles that are regulated.
3) Contact Transport Canada
This is a further confirmation that they don't regulate this type of vehicle. They will also require pictures to make this determination. Give them a thorough description of the rig. Make sure you highlight the fact that it was built from scratch, and that it didn't "USED" to be anything else. the contact for this is: [email protected]
After a while, they will write back and if all is in order, they will advise you that it does not need to go through the RIV program, and it is not regulated. This email will be VERY IMPORTANT to have when you plan on physically bringing the buggy accross the border.
4) Paying for the buggy
There are of course many ways to get this done. Instead of using PayPal or something similar, I decided to go with the electronic wire transfer. There is a record of it both from your bank, as well as the payee bank. This should alleviate any worry about there not being some sort of paper trail.
This is a huge leap of faith no matter how you slice it. Generally you will be buying sight unseen if it is any distance into the U.S. If you use some of the hints I suggested above, you will probably make out alright!
I researched a number of different ways to accomplish this:
Driving down to the location where the buggy was and putting it on my trailer to bring it back. Well the buggy shop where it was located, was in southern Colorado. It was going to be 6000 km round trip to do it this way. The cost would have been astronomical with the price of fuel.
Having a transportation company pick it up and deliver it to your home. This was another option, and there were many companies that offer this service. The price was almost as much as it was going to be to drive down there myself. The factors I hadn't considered, was that by doing it this way, you must pay a customs broker to do the paperwork for you, as well as a fee.
I figured I could do all the paperwork myself, as I probably knew more about it than any customs broker after all the research. The way I went about doing this, was to contact a transportation broker. These companies are set up to receive numerous quotes from many different transport companies based on your request and it is determined by your starting point and ending point. I chose to pick the buggy up in Buffalo. Many of the trucking firms have "yards" in border crossing areas for these types of purchases (mostly cars). You go to the border city with your tow rig and trailer, and pick it up from the driver. (Note: in most cases you will be paying the driver direct - they like cash). The transportation broker takes his small fee when you place your order (this one you can pay by credit card).
Total cost to deliver the buggy 3000 km = $1000 USD. Broker fee = $175. I think it was a bargain!
6) The border crossing
With your proper paperwork in hand (bill of sale from the vendor/letter from Transport Canada) advise the agent at the booth that you have purchased the buggy and have a letter from Transport Canada. They will send you over to the parking area where you will park and go into the office. I would STRONGLY advise you not to fudge the price that you paid. They will ask a number of questions, and even go online to find the purchase. Its just not worth it at this point, unless you want to lose the buggy then and there. Once they have read your letter and bill of sale, you will have to pay only the FEDERAL sales tax at this point (5% of your purchase price). There is no duty on top of that. Away you go, you have now brought it home!
If it really is a buggy that you have purchased, and you have made a declaration to Transport Canada of this, you will not be able to licence it for use on the roads. This is where you will licence it as an Off Road Vehicle (ORV). This is required if you plan on using it on any trails, Crown land etc. Basically anywhere but on your own property. It also gets a little expensive at this point, because it hasn't been previously registered in Canada, (yes even as an ORV), you will now have to pay the PROVINCIAL sales tax at 8%. They will issue you a green plate at this time, as well as an ownership. If there is no VIN of any type (there probably won't be), the MTO will generate one for the vehicle.
You're almost ready to wheel your new beast......
I was shocked (not sure why, based on our insurance system in Ontario) to find out that the insurance broker I had been with for 15 years, said that they wouldn't insure the buggy. The best they could do, was to go with a "facility" policy at $2800 per year. I advised them that the buggy wasn't going to be used on the road, strictly trails. They said it didn't matter. I was now on the hunt for another insurance broker.
After getting the same result from a couple of other companies, I began to get really worried and frankly, a little ticked off! I finally gave one of the brokers who wrote back, a piece of my mind. I had written an email, describing the buggy, as well as its intended use. I advised it was "custom built". When they wrote back, they said "we cannot insure anything that has been customized". I replied with the fact that it wasn't "customized", it never used to be anything else except a rack full of tubing. I repeated that it was "custom built". I never expected to hear back from them.
A short while later, to my surprise, they wrote back saying they were going to go ahead and insure it for me (I added the incentive that I would now be insuring my home as well as 2 vehicles and a trailer with them). In the end, the broker advised that it fit into the "dune buggy" category, and it was going to cost me $320 per year (no collision - why would you need it on a buggy), but its covered for liability, fire and theft.
I hope this has been helpful to any of you who may be contemplating buying a buggy from the U.S. Its not a perfect system, but it really isn't as hard as it might seem. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I have posted a few pictures in an album on my profile here. The ones below are from the original for sale thread on Pirate. Just to give you an idea, that it may be the only thing you have to go on in addition to a description!