Transport Canada – Canadian Vehicles Returning
CBSA has provided the following information regarding Transport Canada’s (TCs) – Canadian Vehicle Returning (By Original Owner) Program.
This program should only be used when you are importing a vehicle that has been temporarily exported from Canada and is coming back in the exact same condition it left Canada in, by the same owner that owned it in Canada.
For example, you bring your Cadillac when you move to Florida for a few years, and then you move back to Canada with your same Cadillac or, if you are a company, you send a truck down to one of your US locations for a few years and when it no longer need, the truck is returned to Canada.
However, temporarily exporting a vehicle to the US to be modified and then bringing it back across into Canada is expressly disallowed in the TC regulations and there have been instances where these have been declared under this TC Program (e.g. , corvette being sent to Callaway, a mustang being sent to Roush, or a truck sent to be lifted or have equipment attached to it, etc.). When this happens, these vehicles are no longer considered to be compliant with the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act and need to be imported into Canada and re-assessed to see if they qualify for registration in the RIV.
The relevant section from D19-12-1 is as follows:
Canadian Vehicles Modified While Abroad
51. Where an individual temporarily exports a Canadian specification vehicle for the purpose of having modifications or alternations done to the vehicle, there may be implications with regards to maintaining the vehicle’s CMVSS original certification. Depending on the nature, extent of the modifications and the age of the vehicle, the vehicle may be required to be certified by the company that performed the modifications in order to ensure it still complies with CMVSS. Where the modifications are deemed sufficient to warrant re-certification to CMVSS, the vehicle will no longer be considered a CMVSS specification vehicle and the vehicle will have to qualify for re-entry into Canada under established vehicle import guidelines. For example, but not limited to:
(a) a van transformed into a motorhome (often known as a Class B motorhome);
(b) a van equipped with raised roof and/or modified interior;
(c) a pick-up or passenger car equipped with lift kit;
(d) a motorcycle converted to a motor tricycle (trike);
(e) a vehicle stretched or lengthened;
(f) a vehicle built or assembled by more than one manufacturer must meet additional requirements (e.g., vocational truck, van conversions, motorhome, bus, limousine or other).
Note: When a border services officer examines a vehicle being declared for importation and observes extensive modifications beyond the scope of general repairs or maintenance for which certification to CMVSS cannot be ascertained, the vehicle may be denied or detained until further clarification from TC is obtained allowing for its release.