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Guys - Has anyone recently imported a classic car from Canada into the US? I am living in Seattle and currently on a car hunt in B.C. and I would like to get my ducks in a row as much as I can before I plunge any deeper into this adventure/dream.

If anybody could share his or her experience/advice what needs to be done and what's involved to pull this off, it would be greatly appriciated. I am particularily interested in the process from the moment on when you hand over the cash to the previous owner, let's say somewhere in downtown Vancouver, and now want to get the car back to the US. Can I just hop into my new old car right there and then and drive it back, paying import tax at the border (with Canadian license plates?) and then register it in Washington (assuming having the title in hand)? Or do I have to return to the US, take care of the paper and tax issues, and then go back to pick up the car? Anyway, any information regarding this process would be welcomed.

Thanks to all in advance,
Klaus
 

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My experience is 25 yrs old but this is how myself and Jim Weber did it We were on to a 1963 Giulietta Sprint Zagato. I had a car trailer and a Ford Van as a tow vehicle. We bought the car in Toronto, loaded on the trailer, got to customs, an inspector came and looked at the car. We declared the value of the car, paid the import duty and came home It was as simple as that. We did not have any trouble registering the car in NJ. Of course it may have helped that I was an Alfa Dealer, and Jim was a sales rep for Alfa. However no one asked for anything at the border except the money
 

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... Can I just hop into my new old car right there and then and drive it back, paying import tax at the border (with Canadian license plates?) and then register it in Washington (assuming having the title in hand)? Or do I have to return to the US, take care of the paper and tax issues, and then go back to pick up the car?
If you take a step back, I think you will see that you cannot do this... The minute that you take possession of the car in downtown Vancouver, the the car is no longer registered / insured (?), since this expires when the car becomes yours. Then, you are asking if it would be OK to drive this unregistered vehicle through Canada to the border with the USA. At the border, you will be willing to take care of whatever import obligations you may have, which is fine (and because the vehicle is older than 25 years, this is not an issue at all). However, you will not be able to produce a registration that allows the vehicle to circulate on public roads, and the customs officials cannot ignore this. Hence, they are not going to let you proceed and drive the unregistered car on US roads.

Even a dealer cannot place an unregistered car on public roads. They may import a car, but not drive it on public roads without the proper authorization. Of course, dealers typically have dealer plates, which allow them to legally drive a car on public roads, as those plates do have registration papers, and insurance.

The registration process varies depending on the localities, but regardless, you will need a temporary registration issued to you in order to circulate your vehicle on public roads. The insurance portion will probably be very easy. Most companies will cover a car that you are buying, even if not registered, but you should provide the VIN number in advance, and tell them when coverage starts. (This doesn't mean that the insurer can authorize you to drive the car. It just means that they will cover it.)

Best regards,
 

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Thank you for the information and the heads-up regarding this. I guess I should plan to bring a trailer instead of driving the car back - if I get to the point of taking over the car in downtown Vancouver...;)
 
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