Boating in Canada Archive

Importing a Boat & Trailer from the U.S.A. 2006

This information was created entirely from a boaters' original research about border regulations that was posted to a boating newsgroup can.rec.boating in 2006. For current information contact Canadian Border Services, Transport Canada, or the U.S. Government for answers.

Research by a boater in April 2006

This is the author's extensive research of the legal requirements to purchase, license and insure a used boat and trailer from Michigan, U.S.A. for import to Ontario, Canada. [Information is comprehensive and may appears very complex. Some will be outdated. Boater reports that follow provide actual experiences.]


  1. Make certain the trailer I purchase from the U.S. dealer has a licence plate and is registered in Michigan, USA, and has insurance coverage based on that licence plate. This will probably be difficult, but based on what I have learned, it just seems that it might be the only way or the with the dealers assistance am able to legally tow the trailer through Michigan to the border and then carry-on from the border through Ontario to my home in London, Ontario.
  2. You do not need to stop at U.S. Customs. Information has been removed.
  3. Ensure you have BOAT documentation that details:
    1. The name of the OEM.
    2. Where the BOAT was manufactured.
    3. The date the BOAT was manufactured.
  4. Ensure you have TRAILER documentation that details:
    1. The name of the OEM.
    2. Where the TRAILER was manufactured.
    3. The date the TRAILER was manufactured.
  5. Since the trailer will be less than 15 years old:
    1. Recall Clearance is no longer required. Information has been removed.
    2. Make sure the trailer has a valid VIN and Manufacture's statement of compliance label/decal. Make sure the numbers match.
    3. Call the Canadian Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV Program) 1-888-848-8240 to have the trailers Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) verified ahead of time as the RIV program people have often found cases were the VIN numbers don't line up.
In the United States:
  1. In regards to the BOAT -- Pay the dealer and obtain a separate "bill of sale."
  2. In regards to the TRAILER -- Pay and obtain a separate "bill of sale" and also have the dealer sign over the TRAILER's "title of ownership" document.
  3. Finally, obtain a third invoice that is for the cost of the delivery of the boat and trailer to Canada from the Dealer's store. This can be a zero dollar invoice.
  4. Michigan Treasury Department @ 1-517-373-3200, communicated that in order to avoid having to pay Michigan 6% Sales tax, the dealer must deliver the boat & trailer to Canada. Otherwise the purchaser must pay the tax.
  5. Now that you own the boat and trailer, you can contact your insurance agent and obtain insurance coverage on the boat and trailer. (Find out what documentation the insurance company needs).
  6. You do not have to stop at U.S. Border check if transporting a non-self-propelled boat/trailer. {Report to United States Customs at the border if you purchased a car or truck in the U.S.}
  7. Drive to Canadian Customs (now called CBSA).
    1. Produce your stamped title document, registration and separate sales receipts for the boat and trailer.
    2. CBSA will give you FORM 1 to complete:
    3. You pay GST and PST on the BOAT (15% total)
    4. You can now request to license your pleasure craft with their office. This is done by asking CBSA to provide you with Transport Canada form number 84-0172 (0404-01) titled "APPLICATION FOR PLEASURE CRAFT LICENCE".

      On this form you will be asked for a few pieces of information, some of which include:
      1. Hull identification Number
      2. Gross Tonnage of the boat
      3. Compliance Label.
      Single Vessel Label program was discontinued in 2007. Information has been removed.

    5. You pay GST on the TRAILER (7%)
    6. Since the boat and trailer are manufactured in the USA, no duty payment will apply.
    7. In regards to the trailer, CBSA (Canadian Customs) will collect $209 CAD for Transport Canada's required federal inspection for a trailer This is done at a Canadian Tire Store (45 day time limit).
    8. At this point, you may have to wait 10 days to receive FORM 2 in the mail [online is faster] to tell you if you must take your trailer to Canadian Tire to have it inspected and what needs to be done (if anything) to bring the trailer into Canadian compliance.
  8. Once you have obtained FORM 2 and had the necessary trailer inspection done and Canadian Tire has stamped FORM 1, indicating a PASS, you can then go to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to obtain a licence for the trailer. You will need:
    1. Title of the trailer that is signed over to you.
    2. FORM 1 and 2 and the record of safety inspection (if required)
    3. Bill of Sale
    4. You will then need to pay PST (8%) on this purchase price converted to Canadian Dollars.
    5. Proof of insurance.
    6. MOT will charge you $20 CAD for the new plate and registration of it.
    7. If you have an old (but not too old) plate that is in good condition, it will be $10 to register it to this new trailer.
"A smooth sea does not make a good sailor." (author unknown)