Importing A Boat To Canada, 7 Steps

import a boat into Canada

7 Steps to Importing a Boat to Canada

If you are looking for a new or used boat, you may find a better deal in the United States than in Canada. However, importing a boat to Canada is not as simple as driving it across the border or sailing it over the water. You need to follow certain rules and regulations to avoid any problems with customs, taxes, licensing and safety. Here are seven steps to importing a boat to Canada successfully.

1. Check the admissibility of the boat

Before you buy a boat from the US, you need to make sure that it meets the Canadian standards for safety, emissions and environmental protection. You can check the admissibility of the boat by visiting the Transport Canada website or contacting a Transport Canada regional office. Some boats may require modifications or inspections before they can be imported.

2. Obtain the required documents

You will need to have the following documents to import a boat to Canada:

  • A bill of sale that shows the purchase price and the seller’s name and address.
  • A title or registration certificate that proves the ownership of the boat.
  • A recall clearance letter from the manufacturer or an authorized dealer that confirms that there are no outstanding recalls on the boat.
  • A statement of compliance (SOC) from the manufacturer or an authorized dealer that certifies that the boat meets the Canadian standards for safety and emissions. If you cannot obtain an SOC, you may need to have the boat inspected by a Transport Canada authorized inspector.

3. Report to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

When you arrive at the Canadian border with your boat, you must report to the CBSA and declare your importation. You will need to present your documents and pay any applicable duty, taxes and fees. The CBSA will also verify that your boat is admissible and issue you a Form 1 – Vehicle Import Form.

4. Register or license your boat

Depending on the type and size of your boat, you may need to register it with Transport Canada or license it with Service Canada. Registration is mandatory for boats that are 15 gross tons or more, or that are used for commercial purposes. Licensing is optional for pleasure crafts that are less than 15 gross tons, but it can help identify your boat in case of theft or emergency. You can apply for registration or licensing online, by mail or in person.

5. Insure your boat

You should insure your boat against any risks or damages that may occur during or after the importation process. You can shop around for different insurance options and compare prices and coverage. You should also check if your insurance policy covers any modifications or inspections that may be required for your boat.

6. Inspect your boat

Depending on the age and condition of your boat, you may need to have it inspected by a qualified marine surveyor or mechanic before you use it in Canadian waters. An inspection can help identify any defects or problems that may affect the safety or performance of your boat. You should also inspect your boat regularly and maintain it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

7. Enjoy your boat

Once you have completed all the steps above, you are ready to enjoy your boat in Canada. You should follow the rules and regulations for boating in Canada, such as wearing a lifejacket, carrying safety equipment, displaying identification numbers and respecting speed limits and navigation rules. You should also be aware of any restrictions or requirements for boating in specific areas, such as national parks, marine protected areas or border waters.

The Booming Business of Importing Boats to Canada

Canada is a country with a long and rich maritime history, and a strong passion for boating. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), more than 8.6 million Canadians participate in recreational boating each year, and there are over 4.3 million boats in use in the country . Boating is not only a popular leisure activity, but also a significant contributor to the Canadian economy, generating $5.6 billion in GDP and supporting 75,000 jobs .

However, buying a boat in Canada can be quite expensive, especially for new models. That’s why many Canadians have discovered the savings and benefits of importing boats from the United States, where the market is much larger and more competitive. According to NMMA, more than 65% of the 100,000 new and used boats sold in Canada in a year are imported from the US . Importing a boat can save buyers up to 30% or more on the purchase price, depending on the exchange rate, the type and condition of the boat, and the availability of similar models in Canada.

How to Import a Boat to Canada

Importing a boat to Canada is not as complicated as it may seem, but it does require some planning and paperwork. Here are the main steps involved:

  • Find your dream boat in the US. You can search online, visit boat shows, or contact dealers or brokers. Make sure you inspect the boat thoroughly before buying it, and check its history and title.
  • Arrange for transportation. You can either tow the boat yourself across the border, or hire a professional transporter. If you tow it yourself, you will need a trailer that meets Canadian standards, and you will have to declare both the boat and the trailer at the border. If you hire a transporter, you will need to provide them with a copy of your bill of sale and proof of ownership.
  • Report your purchase to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). You must declare your boat to the CBSA upon entering Canada, and pay any applicable duty and taxes. The amount of duty depends on where the boat was built, its value, and its engine type. The amount of taxes depends on your province of residence. You may also have to pay a luxury tax if your boat has a taxable amount over $250,000 .
  • Register or license your boat with Transport Canada. Depending on the size and type of your boat, you may have to register it or obtain a pleasure craft license from Transport Canada. Registration is mandatory for boats over 15 gross tons or used for commercial purposes. Licensing is mandatory for boats powered by engines of 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) or more .
  • Enjoy your boat! Once you have completed all the steps above, you are ready to hit the water and enjoy your new boat.

The Future of Boat Importing in Canada

Boat importing is likely to remain a popular option for Canadian boaters in the foreseeable future, as long as there is a significant price difference between the US and Canadian markets. However, there are some factors that may affect the demand and supply of imported boats, such as:

  • The exchange rate. A favorable exchange rate can make importing a boat more attractive, while an unfavorable one can make it less so. The exchange rate fluctuates depending on various economic and political factors, so it is important to monitor it closely before making a purchase.
  • The pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the boating industry, both in terms of production and consumption. On one hand, it has disrupted the supply chain and reduced the availability of new boats in both countries. On the other hand, it has increased the demand for boating as a safe and fun outdoor activity during lockdowns and social distancing measures. These effects may create more opportunities for importing boats, but also more challenges and risks.
  • The environmental regulations. Both Canada and the US have strict environmental regulations that apply to boats, especially regarding emissions and fuel efficiency. These regulations may differ between the two countries, and may change over time as new standards are introduced or updated. Importing a boat may require complying with both sets of regulations, or modifying the boat to meet them.

Importing a boat to Canada can be a great way to save money and find your ideal vessel, but it also requires some research and preparation. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure a smooth and successful import process, and enjoy your boat for years to come.


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