*Please note: This is a page dedicated to help Canadians import cars. Laws in the US differ. This page may not be 100% up to date. Verify any information you read here before using it regarding laws & importing. The OCCC does not take responsibility for any mistakes in this guest-written article.

Just how difficult is it to bring a car from Europe to Canada?

It’s not that difficult. A lot of legwork and paperwork is needed.

The fundamentals:

Any car brought in from Europe must be 15 years or older, using the date the car was built. If it is younger then 15 years, it falls subject to Transport Canada regulations, which may prohibit entry to any vehicle that does not meet Transport Canada’s Safety Regulations. In other words, go for a car older then 15 years.

Make sure you aren’t buying a stolen car. This is a very rare thing, but it is just common sense.

Check the vehicle out as best you can. If buying over the internet, ask for a LOT of hi-resolution pictures. I even asked for a sound clip of a running engine! While buying over the internet is fraught with risk, you can take measures to protect yourself.

The absolute best way to buy “sight unseen” would be from a dealer who specializes in the make of vehicle you desire. Remember, if you get a lemon, there are recourses, especially in today’s electronic community.

I purchased my car from a private citizen in Holland, who happened to be the president of a local Citroën club. This was my ace-in-the-hole. I was immensely happy with my purchase. I found it on a site called Marktplaats. This site is in Dutch only.

If buying a 2CV, ask for new tires, or tires in excellent shape. Tires are hard to come by in Canada for these cars, so protect yourself!Finding a 2CV is one thing. 2CV’s are prone to rust, especially 80’s models. Most have new chassis, so get one with a newer chassis! France has the least rusted cars, but their excuse for roads take a hard toll on any car, be diligent. Since I’m Dutch, I was able to haggle in my native tongue. It will be wise to have a friend handy who speaks the native language, although most Dutch people speak English.

Let’s move on to how to bring a car to Canada.
Ask the owner, as part of the deal, to bring the car to a port. This saves a big hassle. Find a shipper who knows and has experience transporting cars. There are 2 basic ways. One is container shipping. The car can be shipped all the way to your community, but it is very expensive. The cheaper way is something called RoRo. (Roll On, Roll Off), where the car is driven aboard the ship, and driven off. Canada has 2 ports that handle RoRo, Halifax and Vancouver.
Getting back to the shipper, this is the most important part of the whole transaction. In one case, a shipper tried to convince me that Rotterdam doesn’t have a seaport. I hung up immediately. (Rotterdam has the biggest seaport on the planet).
You can also simply contact a shipper overseas. All speak English, and a few dollars might be saved this way. If you live in Ontario or further east, I recommend RoRo delivery to Halifax, and simply pick the car up there. You can rent a one-way car dolly from U-Haul. The cost of shipping a car from Rotterdam to Halifax using RoRo? About $600 USD. Compare that to about $1,400 USD to Montreal.
Take the drive out to Halifax! The East coast is beautiful, make it a little holiday. Some shippers will try to recommend you ship your car to New York Harbor first. This adds to the paperwork. US customs could make things difficult. Avoid this option! All prices in shipping are quoted in US dollars.
Container shipping is great if you are shipping more then one car. Up to three cars fit in a container. This would be the way to go if you want the car(s) delivered practically to your doorstep. You pay for the container, not the car(s) this way.
It is more expensive however. Remember to insure the shipping. RoRo has higher risks, so insurance is imperative.

Most, if not all European countries demand the car be “de-registered”. While free in some countries, there may be a small charge in others.

Once in Canada, you’ll need to show Customs a clear trace of paperwork from the European owner to you, the price you paid, with receipts. They’ll be happy to charge you 7%GST and a 6.1% tariff (totaling 13.1%) Then, you’ll need to pay the PST as well.  Customs will want to ensure the car is clean of contraband, like drugs for instance. Another shipping regulation is that the vehicle is shipped with less then a 1/4 tank of fuel.

One thing to take into consideration. Because of Mad Cow Disease, Agriculture Canada may want to wash your car.
This costs between $80-$360…ouch

Customs will give you a K-22 form (I think that’s what its called) which allows you to take your new car out of the bonded warehouse. A storage charge may apply. (Usually $50.00CDN)

Remember to save all the paperwork! When registering you car in your province, you’ll need everything!

Now you have your car In Ontario, a Drive Clean certificate is required on all cars less then 20 years old. Thanks to one of our members, the 2CV is now in the testing database! Depending on the province, a safety check is required. If the car is in good shape, this shouldn’t pose any problems except one: European garages do carry aftermarket brake lines made out of a zinc/copper alloy, they are a no-no in Ontario. In Holland and most other European countries, most cars are safety checked annually.

Registering your car will require the K-22 form, and, in some cases, a translation of the registration certificate. I ran into this snag but it was easily solved, I simply translated the document myself and had it stamped by the Dutch embassy. The stamp merely means they saw the document. A stamp is a universal bureaucratic weapon, a form of language amongst bureaucrats. It impressed them enough to register my car. Of course, buying from France would bypass this glitch.

All this sounds daunting, but really it isn’t. Make sure you have a shipper lined up first.

How do you pay the seller? This is easy. Any bank will sell you a bank draft in euros. Just send it by courier or special delivery to the seller. It’ll take about 10 business days for it to clear the seller’s bank. The same with overseas shippers.

A lot of legwork, many phone calls, emails, etc, but it is easily do-able. Best of luck!

Need more information? Please contact me

Here are some prices to give you an idea of shipping costs:
$660 USD for shipping from Rotterdam to Halifax
$400 for various port charges, Rotterdam and Halifax.
$89 CDN to fly from Ottawa to Halifax (CanJet) + the usual taxes.

Some links to help you out:

bullet Broekman Motorships B.V. (shipper in Holland) Site in English
bullet Duck Service Dealer in 2CV’s, Dutch
bullet Marktplaats Dutch EBay type site, in Dutch
bullet Customs & Classics A highly recommended 2CV dealer, web site in English/Dutch

2 Responses to How to import a Citroën to Canada

  1. Helen Shelswell says:

    Hello: could you advise me on an auto insurance company for my charleston 2cv in Sault Ste Marie Ontario?
    I’m a Canadian, was living in UK and drove 2cvs so when returned in 2003, brought my Charleston 2CV with me and used it during summer 2004/5. now back in Canada and looking for an auto insurance company.Any suggestions welcome. Many thanks.
    Helen