The compliance letter conundrum

If you are considering importing a vehicle from Canada, you need to ensure that the vehicle is compliant with US emissions, US bumper and anti-theft safety standards. A vehicle is compliant with these standards if it is labeled as such. The EPA compliance label will be under the hood or on the engine block and the Department of Transport (DOT) compliance label will be on the inside of the driver’s door post.

What if the vehicle does not have the US compliance labels?

Well, many vehicles that were manufactured for the Canadian market may still be compliant with US standards even though they do not have the US compliance labels. The importer of the vehicle can contact the vehicle manufacturer and ask for a Letter of Compliance. This letter, when issued, will state that the vehicle at the time of its manufacture complied with US emissions, safety and anti-theft standards. If the manufacturer attests that the vehicle is compliant, box 2B on the HS-7 can be used to import the vehicle.

What if the Letter of Compliance states that the vehicle is compliant except for certain minor standards?

Well, it depends on which standards are not compliant. Some standards, such as daytime running lights and minor labeling, can be waived if the vehicle is being imported for personal use. Other standards, such as the absence of a tire pressure monitor, will need to be addressed prior to the vehicle being imported into the USA. A completed work order from a franchised dealership will need to be produced to confirm that the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) has been added.

Who makes the final decision on the admissibility of a vehicle being imported from Canada?

The simple answer is the border officer attending at the border when the vehicle arrives for importation. While most officers accept the manufacturer’s certification issued by the Letter of Compliance, there are a handful that do not and will reject the importation and turn the vehicle back to Canada.

What is the manufacturer will not issue a Letter of Compliance?

Over the years, the major car manufacturers have handled the issue of Letter’s of Compliance differently. At the time of writing, most manufacturers will issue these letters. However, Toyota has now decided to stop issuing the Letters of Compliance. Others, such as Hyundai did not issue in the past but have started issuing them recently. Some may even charge a fee for the issuance of the Letter of Conformity. All is not lost if you cannot obtain a Letter of Compliance from the manufacturer. You can still contract the services of a Registered Importer who will inspect the vehicle or make the necessary modifications to bring the vehicle into compliance. They are expensive and should be used as a last resort.

You do not have to navigate the importation of a vehicle into the US on your own. Our company, US Canada Auto Transport have been arranging the importation of vehicles into the USA for years. Contact us to assist you.

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