Saturday, July 28, 2007

Importing a Prius Hybrid to Canada - Conclusion


Yesterday I had my new Prius inspected and licensed. Here is the remainder of the process (it’s BC specific, but should apply elsewhere in Canada).

(you can read the entire thread by following these posts: US/Canada Prius price comparison; US Customs forms; Step by step guide)

After coming home with the new car, I scanned and emailed the required documents (which included the Recall Letter AND printouts from Toyota’s recall database (provided by the US dealer) to RIV. About three business days later I called them up, and they emailed me my inspection form.

Just about the only modification required are daytime running lights.

I then got a temporary permit from ICBC for one day, and was off to Canadian Tire - I had them do the Federal & Provincial inspections, as well as installing DRL.

Even though they sell a DRL kit (which turns on ALL lights at 100%), this is NOT what they use when they install DRL themselves. On my (non-HID) Prius they installed DRL that run off the signal lights, not the main lights.

Federal exam: free (included in RIV fee)
Provincial (BC) exam: $89.95
DRL parts: $40.93
DRL labor: $133.50
Gov’t inspection decal: $10

Once done with Canadian Tire, it was off to ICBC, and voila - it’s done.

Don’t forget, when you’re done with ICBC, to claim your PST refund. Here are detailed instructions (which were emailed to me by Ministry of Small Business and Revenue):

“To claim a PST refund complete and submit an Application of Refund for Social Service Tax Paid on a Vehicle form (FIN 413MV), which is available on our website at: For more information on the refund process, see GEN 008, Refunds of Overpayments of Tax, available on our website at:

When submitting the form, please remember to attach the relevant documentation including:

a) a copy of this email;

b) a copy of the registration certificate showing the make, model, year, and fuel type of the vehicle.

c) a copy of the bill of sale that indicates the date of purchase;

d) a copy of the ICBC receipt indicating the amount of PST that was paid when the vehicle was registered.

For more information see Bulletin SST 085, Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Alternative Motor Fuel Tax Concessions, available on our website at:”

That’s it! I’ll be happy to answer any questions regarding the import process. I highly recommend it.

— Oren

Importing a Prius hybrid to Canada - Step by Step Guide

Just got back a couple of hours ago from WA state with my brand new Prius.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to import your Prius, based on my experience:

(a) Find a Toyota dealer who’ll deal with you. This is a lot more difficult than it sounds, since Toyota does not allow its US dealers to sell to Canadians.

(b) Finalize the deal.

(c) Send all the required info to US Customs (see my previous post) at least 72 hours before your pick-up time.

(d) On the day before you pick the car up, get a temporary insurance binder from ICBC (or your provincial authority). This will allow you to drive the car home, provided the dealer set you up with temporary US permits.

(e) Go across the border.

(f) Pick up your car.

(g) Go back to the border crossing. Present your MSO to US Customs. They’ll compare it against the information you had sent them, and then they’ll stamp your MSO. This took about 45 seconds.

(h) Go to Canada customs. They’ll fill out RIV Form 1 for you. You’ll pay $206 RIV fee + duty + GST. All can be put on a credit card.

(i) Go home (don’t collect $200…) :)

I picked it up from the dealer just in time - they told me that Toyota is applying more and more pressure, and that they (the dealer) have now suspended sales to Canadians. Up until now they were just about the only dealer in WA state to sell to Canadians.

— Oren

Importing a Prius hybrid to Canada - US Customs forms

I went ahead and bought a Toyota Prius in the US. As part of the import (or export, depending on your point of view), you are required to provide information to US Customs at least 72 hours prior to taking the car out of the US.

For those of you who are based in BC, here are the instructions from Blaine / Pacific Highway US Customs:

(1) - Information packet

(2) - Worksheet

(3) - Status Form

Make sure to use these documents when submitting your vehicle’s information.

By the way, I was unable to fax the forms over to the Customs office - it was constantly busy. Instead, I scanned them all and emailed them to the email address listed in the Packet. Within an hour I had received an email confirmation, with the date on which I’ll be able to export the car from the US.

I’ll be picking up my new car next week, as which point I’ll post all about the actual border crossing experience.

— Oren

Importing a Prius hybrid to Canada

BC Business Magazine posted an article on the economics involved in importing vehicles from the US to Canada. As I’m currently researching the very same topic, here are some cost comparisons, for those of you who are looking to import a Toyota Prius.

It is almost impossible to compare apples to apples when looking at importing a Prius. The reason is quite simple - Canadian consumers have a smaller selection of packages and options to choose from. As such, a consumer looking as specific functionality may be required to pay for additional features, simply because they’ve been bundled into an expensive package.

Here are the features I was looking for:

- Prius ‘07

- VSC (Vehicle Stability Control)

- Backup camera

- Audio system /w MP3 support and aux input

In the US, this feature set is called Package #2. In Canada these features are part of Package B, which also includes premium audio, Bluetooth support, and many other features I don’t care for. However, since I won’t consider buying the car without the features I am looking for, the effective Canadian price becomes that of Package B.

Now for the cost comparison - US Prius ‘07 package 2 vs. Canada Prius ‘07 package B. Although the CAD is trading today at 1.056 CAD per USD, I’ll use the conservative 1.07 exchange rate. The results (in Canadian dollars) are astounding:


  • Canada: $35,360 (includes package B)

  • US: $23,727.25

- US Package 2: $615.25

- Accessories (high-end cabin+cargo mats, first aid kit):

  • Canada: $300 (not all accessories are available)

  • US: $365.94 (for all desired accessories)

- Destination charge (note that in both cases the vehicle comes directly from Japan to the west coast):

  • Canada: $1,240

  • US: $663.4

- Levies (A/C, battery, tires): $125 in both cases.

- Additional fees (est.): $66 in both cases.

- Duty:

  • Canada: $0

  • US: $1551.76 (at a rate of 6.1%)

- PST (BC, 7%):

  • Canada: $2,596.3

  • US: $1898.08

- GST (6%):

  • Canada: $2,225.4

  • US: $1,626.93

- RIV fee (for importing a vehicle into Canada):

  • US: $195

- Installing daytime running lights on imported vehicle:

  • US: $150 ($40 parts + $85 labor, USD)

- Vehicle inspection for imported vehicle:

  • US:~$150 (est.)

- BC PST refund (up to $2,000):

  • Canada: $2,000

  • US: $1,898.08

Total price, Canada: $39,911

Total price, US: $29,221

Price difference: $10,690

All I can say is “wow”. You can save +$10k by driving south for 90 minutes. And before you ask, Toyota’s warranty covers North America - Canada included.

Of course Toyota isn’t making this easy - they try and prevent US dealers from selling to Canadians. But some dealers will take your money - do your research.

More to follow…

— Oren