Importing a Motorcycle to Canada from Washington State


Updated:    Copyright David Morrow

These instructions are based on my experience importing a bike into B.C. from Washington State. Washington state uses separate ownership (title) certificate and registration forms which may be different from other states. In B.C., ICBC is our insurer and our ICBC insurance agents can process both the insurance and the registration paperwork. The rest of the detail is based on federal requirements in both countries.

Read information at Registrar Of Imported Vehicles (RIV) web site -

  • Check to see that the vehicle will be allowed to be imported to Canada. It appears that there is virtually no restrictions on motorcycles. The most recent bike that I imported was a 2003 Yamaha FJR. It has an electronic odometer which ( on U.S. bikes only ) can be switched between miles and kilometers. (Press the button down for 2 seconds). The speedometer reads in both although the MPH is more prominent. As a result, I did not check on whether a conversion would be necessary for non-electronic odometers as it was not necessary for the FJR.

On purchase of vehicle:

  • Vendor to sign front of the Vehicle Certificate of Ownership (the separate reg'n. form remains with vendor)

  • Vendor to sign rear of Vehicle Certificate of Ownership – this is now given to the purchaser

  • Prepare a Bill of Sale. This should address the date, VIN, vehicle description, and have vendor sign. This is not a form that you will find anywhere in particular; just make it up yourself. See the sample at the bottom of this page.

  • Print a copy of the ad or other pertinent information for the vehicle in the event that Canada Customs challenges you on the value you are using on the Bill of Sale.

  • Vehicle must remain in Washington until U.S. Customs completes its export checks.

Once you have made your purchase.

  • Contact the manufacturer ( Fax and phone numbers are on the Registrar of Imported Vehicles web site). Give them the vehicle’s VIN and request a Recall Clearance LetterOR

  • Alternatively, the RIV will accept a printout from an authorized dealer ( not a reseller ) showing the recall status of the vehicle. You cannot do this without the VIN. Expect to pay a fee to the dealer for this service. In August 2012 a Washington State Honda dealer provided the printout for about $40 and printed it immediately and without advance notice. OR

  • Ask the vendor to obtain the recall clearance letter ahead of time. This would actually be a wise move for anyone buying or selling any vehicle.

  • You might even consider doing this step before completing your purchase. If you find that there are recalls outstanding, it may alter your purchase decision.

U.S. Customs – initial contact

  • Phone U.S. Customs vehicle export office at the Blaine truck crossing 1-360-332-2632 and request that a vehicle export package be faxed to you ( recorded message). Or email a request for the export package to  This number is for the Peace Arch crossing south of Vancouver. If you are in another location, you should contact the nearest crossing office. Otherwise, presumably, your paperwork will end up at the wrong crossing and won't be there when you try to import your bike.

  • The Information Packet that they email to you will contain a list of local businesses who will store your vehicle until the export documents are ready.

  • Complete the questionnaire and fax the questionnaire, a copy of Bill of Sale, and copy of the Certificate of Ownership (Title) to them or hand deliver them to U.S. Customs at the commercial crossing. ( In August 2012 they had a Vehicle Export counter to take your forms to.) They require 72 hours to complete their vehicle check.

Retrieving the vehicle – U.S. Customs

  • After 72 hours, contact U.S. Customs to make sure that the documents have been processed and they are ready for pickup. Do not attempt to retrieve the vehicle without knowing for sure that these documents are ready. In August 2012 we were unable to obtain email of telephone confirmation that the bike was cleared for export. We went to the Export counter on the way south to check and was advised then that it was cleared. ( The customs clerk made it sound like we did not need to check in advance. ) Only then did we retrieve the bike and head back to U.S. and Canada Customs.

  • Contact an ICBC agent about insurance for the day you intend to move the vehicle. About $35

  • Note the restricted hours of operations of U.S. Customs for vehicle exports. Monday - Friday, 8:00AM to 3:30PM. Closed on statutory holidays. If holidays fall on a weekend, they may be closed Friday or Monday

  • Take the vehicle to U.S. Customs (Commercial Crossing south of Vancouver only) and present them with the original Vehicle Certificate of Ownership and Bill of Sale. Copies are not accepted at this stage. They may inspect the vehicle. They will stamp the Certificate of Ownership.

  • There are no fees payable to U.S. Customs.

Retrieving the vehicle – Canada Customs

  • Present Canada Customs with the Vehicle Certificate of Ownership (Title) and Bill of Sale.

  • They will complete Vehicle Import Form1. Be sure that they write down your email address in the box if you wish to be notified by email. Keep this with the vehicle until licenced in Canada.

  • Pay the GST on the purchase price at the Canada Customs cashier. ( For HST provinces, it will only be the GST - the Federal portion of the tax.)

  • RIV now has an office right across Zero Avenue from Canada Customs. You can leave the bike at Customs and walk across the street and about 200 Feet east; watch for the RIV blue signs. 

  • RIV will check the Title Certificate and Recall Clearance documents. They will then process the Form 1 and you will pay the RIV fee of $195.00 + HST (August 2012).  OR

  • You may go to the RIV web site and input for Form 1 number and they will process it online and return the Form 2 within an hour or two. If you do this online, it would appear that you fax or email the Recall Clearance to RIV. This could be a black hole of bureaucracy in terms of potential for delay and would be a distant second choice for me.

  • Upon arrival at home, go to the RIV website, click on "Track Your Case". Provide the VIN and Form 1 info as requested and print out the Form 2. When I arrived home, I had two emails waiting for me from RIV - a receipt for the fee and notification that my Form 2 was ready to be printed.

After arriving home

  • Complete the necessary modifications within 45 days. Keep all receipts as they will be required at the inspection along with Form 1 and Form 2, and the Recall Clearance Letter

  • Make an appointment at any Canadian Tire for the Federal inspection ( no Provincial inspection on bikes) along with the above documents. The inspection takes about 5 minutes. This inspection is generally about having a metric speedometer ( but not odometer ), lighting, reflectors and that it complies with U.S. Federal Safety Standards. Pay a $10 tire disposal fee ( September 2012 ). Canadian Tire will fax the completed Form 2 to RIV.

  • Upon completion of the inspection, Form 1 will be stamped. This must be presented when registering the vehicle in Canada

  • Within 7 days of the inspection, RIV will send a new Canadian Certification label which is to be affixed to the vehicle.

  • In BC, take your bike and all of the above documentation to an ICBC insurance agent who will check the bike's serial number and prepare all of the documents to register and insure the bike. In other provinces, presumably you must present the bike to your local motor vehicle office for this.

Warranty issues: my FJR had the remains of the extended warranty. It is not valid in Canada. Presumably the basis warranty is also not valid in Canada. I never tried to make a warranty claim by taking the bike to a dealer in the U.S. Presumably this is done to deter importation. On the other hand, the Canadian Nissan dealer offered to transfer my U.S. warranty when I took it in for the first service.



Bill of Sale


I, John Smith of 123 Main Street, Seattle, WA 98000, have sold one 2003 Yamaha FJR motorcycle VIN____________________________ to John Doe of 456 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C., V6K 3A7 for the sum of $100,000.00 U.S.



Vendor: John Smith



Purchaser: John Doe


Dated this ________day of December , 200__ at Seattle, Washington