(Done Deal!) Selling A Canadian Car In The USA

Last Updated on January 30, 2023 by Leepu Da Maxim

To sell a Canadian car in the USA, clear with the relevant US federal agencies before importing it. Once you receive payment, transport the car into the country. It will be upon the buyer to register it as a nonresident vehicle. You should work with the buyer since they are importing from you.

Key Takeaways

  • If you want to sell a Canadian car in the USA, then first you have to determine the value of your car based on the US market value
  • If there is any problem with the car, then you should fix them to increase the overall value of the car
  • You have to provide various documents like the car’s title, registration, and maintenance records to sell the car in the USA
  • You have to ensure that the Canadian car complies with US regulations, emissions standards, safety requirements, etc.

The Canadian Cars Most Sold To The US

From the Detroit News, here’s a table showing the car brands built in Canada and sold in the US:

Fiat Chrysler AutomobilesDodge Grand CaravanDodge ChargerDodge ChallengerChrysler
Pacifica Chrysler 300
General Motors CompanyGMC SierraCadillac XTSChevrolet Equinox
Ford Motor CompanyLincoln MKX (Nautilus)Lincoln MKTFord Flex
Multimatic Inc.Ford GTHonda Motor CompanyHonda CRVHonda Civic

News has it that in 2020, vehicle exports from Canada to the US rose by 4.3 percent. That moved the numbers to a whopping 309,505 units. Between January and May 2021, 151,952 vehicles moved into the US.

It seems that US residents are developing a particular liking for Canadian cars. One reason is that they are cheap, especially when the USD is stronger than the CAD.

And that’s where you step in. But before you do, let’s see what the US authorities say.

What The US Says About Bringing Vehicles Manufactured Abroad

Your sale must involve, among others, the following agencies:

1. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

2. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

3. The Department of Transportation (DOT)

That means that government involves itself in car importation. These institutions have a hand on anything brought into the country. 

So, it would be best not to gloss over their stipulations. Let’s check them one by one.

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

The CBP makes it clear that car importation isn’t easy. Here are highlights from their website:

1. Any vehicle you bring into the US is subject to the law. Besides, the law sets bumper and air pollution control standards.

2. So, the CBP will only accept vehicle imports if they conform to the set standards.

3. If a vehicle does not conform, the buyer should bring it to compliance. If not, the CBP will export or, in worse cases, destroy it.

If the car is compliant, the seller (importer) will need to fill out the required forms. Once the step is complete, they will receive written approval to clear them. 

Now, if that’s what the CBP says, what about the EPA?

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

About Importing Canadian Vehicles, The EPA Says:

1. Many Canadian cars share emission control systems with US-certified vehicles.

2. But, some of them may not conform to the EPA requirements.

3. So, importers (your seller) should ensure the vehicle meets the standards.

4. If the Canadian car is identical to a US-certified one, there should be a label. The label is titled Vehicle Emission Control Information.

5. The label contains the manufacturer’s name and its trademark. Also, it has an unconditional statement of compliance.

6. You should ensure that your car’s manufacturer provides a letter of compliance. Besides, it should state that the vehicle complies with all EPA regulations.

7. Ensure that your compliance information comes from any manufacturer on this list.

So, with the EPA done, let’s hear from the DOT.

The Department of Transportation

On their part, the DOT runs the MVII (Motor Vehicle Importation Information) System. It is a database that collects:

1. The names and addresses of individuals importing the vehicle. Here, your buyer’s details will come in handy

2. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the car you’re selling

3. Information of the registered importers

Apart from the MVII, the DOT has set the Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (MVSS). So your car also needs to be MVSS-compliant to move across the border.

Twice a week, the MVII database picks information from Customs (CBP) as a vehicle enters the US.

If your car is compliant with the CBP and EPA stipulations, its details will show on the database.

So, What Happens Next?

If cleared, the vehicle will get to the state of destination. Once it arrives, your buyer should confirm receipt. Depending on the payment method, you may wait a few days before receiving the funds.

For cross-border transactions, I recommend that you use escrow. Once the buyer receives the car, the funds will move to your account.

Now, The Vehicle Should Be In The US

If you followed due process, the buyer should already have it. Then, depending on the state, they should meet the needs of their DMV.

For instance, if your car gets to a Californian resident, they should:

1. Have proof of ownership

2. Show evidence from CBP that cleared the vehicle

3. Show a weight certificate

4. Pay some applicable free

5. Fill out some forms

But that shouldn’t be your concern. Once you finalized the transaction, tell the buyer to comply. That way, they can start driving as soon as their DMV clears the vehicle.


Although this post provides you with steps, you need to consult the relevant agencies. Also, remember that regulations change, and some procedures will take time.

Reckon that this article is only as a guide. The situation on the ground will be different, I promise you.

But, if selling a Canadian car in the USA seems tricky, get a dealer. Choose a reputable one that won’t trick you and leave with your vehicle. This choice may save you a lot of time and even some money.

Let your seller know that they’ll have much to do. Read Christopher’s story and share it with them. It should prepare them for the inconvenience.

Thanks for reading, and don’t hesitate to share!