I wish, and was hoping that I could have added to this thread with a "these are the requirements for Montana", cut and dry explanation...but as I think people are starting to realize, there is no one answer to this stuff.
When I called the Montana border guards, the guy I talked to said I would need a signed bill of sale, and the registration.
When the seller called, he mentioned that the tag plate with the VIN
was faded. All the info specific to the trailer was there, but the labels
had faded out. So while the VIN
, tire size, year and all that were visible, it didn't say "year", "VIN", "tire size" etc. The person he talked to said "we have to be able to read the plate clearly".
It's also been stated that the date of manufacture matters, down to the month/day.
So...I just brought a trailer from AB to Montana. The answer I got on that particular day was that only the year mattered. So this is 2016, and the trailer was made in 1991. Didn't matter that this is January and the tag clearly states that it was made March 22, 1991.
The officer on the Canadian side said "huh, interesting. For us it has to be 25 years exactly, down to the year month and day."
Short version of the story: Once I got through the gate, it was probably 15 minutes of filling out forms, and my trailer was "imported". They never went outside to look at it.
I pulled in, and started filling out forms. There was confusion about the lack of DOT sticker. The guy I talked to assured the guy I was currently dealing with that it was "exempt", due to being 25 years old. So we proceeded.
They never went outside to look at the trailer or the tag. So it didn't matter that it was faded. If someone else had been working that day, would that have been a sticking point? No idea.
There is nowhere on the form that says being 25 years old makes it exempt. There were a bunch of boxes I could check. I had to choose one. None of them were "exempt due to age" or anything like that. None of them fit my situation. The guy just said something like "whatever, I'll just check a box and make a note". Again...different person working that day, would that have been a sticking point?
He stamped my forms, made copies, sent me on my way.
What I thought might be issues as I was waiting in line at the gate:
The bill of sale was not notarized/certified
The tag/ID plate labels were completely faded
The trailer was almost 2 months short of truly being 25 years old
I had no license plates on the trailer.
I feel like, depending on the day, US state in which you cross over, specific employees working that day, and whether they decide to step outside and actually look at the trailer, any of those could have sent me back into Canada, without importation papers.
So...unfortunately I can't say with any certainty what you really
need to get into the US.
But I can say that I did!
And the only painful part is all the conflicting information, mis-information etc., which is being spread not by us well-meaning RV-buyers, but mostly by border patrol themselves. But we can cut them some slack knowing this is NOT high priority in their training or general knowledge. The actual process was pretty easy and painless, once I was there in the middle of it.
Best bet is to call them, stop in if possible, ask a lot of questions, get names. I made sure the guy who told me "you can actually bring it across the border today instead of waiting until the end of March if you want" was still going to be there by the time I got back with the trailer. Which ended up being very important because he assured the guy I ended up dealing with, multiple times, that it was ok, it was 25 years old.