Canada Customs, Transport Canada and Kitcars Headaches! - 1957 Corvette

Canada Customs, Transport Canada and Kitcars Headaches!

If you read Transport Canada's import rules, you will find that kitcars newer than about 15 years are not allowed into Canada. The wording is very strong and scary! A BIG NO-NO is to mention that the car that you are bringing into Canada is a kitcar - warning flags go up at the border by the Custom's agents and you are in deep shit!

It is NOT possible to bring a completed kitcar into Canada that is newer than 15 years old. It is possible to bring a kitcar kit into Canada but there are some rules that you have to play by:

  • You cannot bring in pieces of the kitcar, one at a time so that you can assemble it to make a complete vehicle later. This means that you can't ship the kitcar in pieces and spread the shipping time over a month.

  • You cannot purchase all the parts from one US supplier to make a complete vehicle. They want you to purchase car parts in Canada.

  • All of the parts that you bring across the border should NOT be sufficient by themselves to be considered a vehicle under Canada's motor vehicle act. The parts in aggregate do not make up a motor vehicle certifiable under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada). This is IMPORTANT wording!

  • Never refer to it as a kitcar or as a vehicle, always refer to it as car parts and correct anyone who says otherwise, especially the customs officers. The BIG issue is the deviding line where a bunch of car parts becomes a vehicle. You want your parts defined as car parts NOT a kitcar or a vehicle.

  • Make sure that you have all of your documents in order and with you when you cross the border. A common problem that occurs is that the suppliers do you a favor by quoting lower prices on invoices or grouping items together that don't belong together. Trust me, it is not a favor - keep everything on the up and up! Your documents from start to finish must correlate. If they don't match, the customs officer WILL catch it! That's their job and they are VERY good at it!

  • You need every document you can find:

    • Advertisement of the vehicle
    • Invoice from supplier
    • Record of payment to the supplier
    • Bank statement, credit card, paypal statement to indicate that you indeed paid for it
    • Customs declaration of value
    • Shipping manifest
    • Record of payment to shipper
    • Canada US freetrade documents

    You can use a customs broker but it isn't that hard to do if you have the time to investigate.

I talked to Transport Canada and found them to be incredibly helpful. In my case, I was only bringing a body and frame across so it was no problem. They ask you to send a complete list of the parts that you are bringing across the border. I suggest that you also supply them with an extensive list of the parts that are missing that would disqualify the kit from being considered a vehicle certifiable under the motors vehicle act.

A buddy of mine, bought a Factory Five AC Cobra kitcar kit and brought it across the border without any problems. The key is that there was no nuts and bolts or drivetrain with the kit. All of the parts in aggregate were insufficient for it to be registered as a vehicle under Canada's motor vehicle act (that wording pops up again!).

His kit included a parts list of all the nuts and bolts required which he can easily purchase here in Canada. In a case like his, you would contact Transport Canada and give them a list of all of the parts. They would issue a declaration that states that the parts being brought across the border are insufficient to be considered a vehicle and you would show that to the customs officer. Plan well in advance when dealing with Transport Canada, we're talking weeks in advance - ideally 6 weeks or more.

Lastly, I received an email from Al Beix of Western Canada Cobras (Surrey, B.C.) about providing a link to his site - one of these mutual benefit website things. Western Canada Cobras is a Factory Five rep for Canada and specializes in importing Factory Five kits into Canada.

I'm always sceptical about emails like this so I checked him out. Came across some very good reviews on the Factory Five forums. He seems to check out legit so here's some free support to another motorhead and Westerner!

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Copyright March 2012 Eugene Blanchard