It can be done, although there are a lot of issues to deal with. Vehicles are either allowed or prohibited, and most "allowed" vehicles require modifications at your expense. There's a lot of paperwork, on both sides of the border, and you may require a letter from the manufacturer stating one thing or another, which can take time and might have to be done before you cross the border.
Because of regulations regarding country of origin and NAFTA, some manufacturers in the past have prohibited their dealers from selling cars that will be imported into Canada. The short answer is you must make one car in Canada for every car sold in Canada to qualify as a domestic manufacturer. (It's a one-for-one deal; ie all Gen IV Camaros were made in Canada so GM dealers can sell a Camaro in the US and then import a US-made Corvette to be sold at a Canadian dealer; the Corvette would be treated as if made in Canada).
For companies that keep that number tight ( *Cough* Ford *Cough*) imports of new vehicles can cause big problems if too many Canadians import cars bought in the 'states. Dealers in the US near the border have had their franchise yanked over this in the past. The further you get from the border, the less likely you will run into a dealer that will refuse to sell you a car if he know's you're going to export it to Canada. This may or may not still be an issue, but it certainly has been previously.
Transport Canada should be contacted directly with specific make and model information BEFORE you buy a vehicle outside of Canada.
No modifications from showroom stock allowed.
This is from Transport Canada but is not guaranteed to be accurate; CONTACT them directly and find out FOR SURE before buying a vehicle in the US:
This only applies to vehicles certified to comply with all US Safety Standards:
Dodge Trucks less than 10,000 GVW
More than 15 years old
Less than 15 years old but manufactured before Sept 1 2007
2008 Dodge Dakota pickup trucks [EIS]
2008 TO 2010 All other models
2011 All models [EIS]
Nothing on 2012 vehicles; contact Transport Canada
[EIS] refers to the immobilizer. All cars and trucks sold in Canada after 2007 must have one that meets Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) 114. The [EIS] tag in the above "Admissible" category means that the listed Dodge trucks DO NOT meet CMVSS 144 due to the immobilizer system.
Note: some people who import vehicles from the US believe that starting with the 2011 model year, manufacturers are deliberately offering different EIS systems in the US and Canada to discourage imports into Canada. I'll leave that up to you to decide whether it's true or not.
EIS can be expensive; it's completely integrated into the vehicles computer system.
Contact the manufacturer to see if the appropriate EIS system can be installed or modified to be compliant. It may be an option on US spec vehicles; if so be sure it's both compliant and installed as a factory option (on the Monrony label).
Aftermarket EIS systems are possible but you had better be sure it's available and compliant. Modifying the EIS may affect the warranty.
CMVSS also addresses seat belts. BE SURE the seat belts meet CMVSS because modifications of any kind to the seat belts are prohibited under any circumstances, so non-compliant seat belts mean you cannot register the vehicle in Canada, period.
Child Restraint harnesses and anchor points can be installed or modified where necessary after importation but before inspection.
This is important ... no CMVSS 114-compliant EIS, you won't be able to keep/register the truck in Canada. Find out FOR SURE.
A letter from the manufacturer stating all outstanding recalls have been addressed is mandatory.
Daytime Running Lights ... often not a problem with new vehicles like it once was, since the required equipment may already be installed, but not activated. This can sometimes be done by the dealer.
Manual Transmission (May 2005 or newer) ... must not start without either fully depressing the clutch or some other system to fully disengage the drive train.
There can be other things that must be modified/installed. For example, some vehicles do not meet CMVSS for glass, so all windows must be replaced (usually older vehicles).
Not a trivial task, but can be done. Lots of paperwork, planning, and double-checking required. DO YOUR HOMEWORK and don't take anyone's, including my, word for anything. Find out yourself, for sure. And find out what all the necessary mods will cost, since you will have to pay for them before you can register the vehicle, plus how long they will take, since the vehicle cannot stay in Canada in non-compliant state forever, even with valid out-of-Canada plates and insurance.
FYI: I've imported motorcycles, and non-school buses, and quads, but never cars or trucks, from the US.
Last edited by Johnny2Bad; 11-30-2011 at 01:50 AM.