Buy Canadian-Transport over, Title US? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-27-2008, 06:11 PM   #1
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Name: Betty
Trailer: 2009 Liberty Deluxe Casita
Arkansas
Posts: 105
Hi,
Has anyone ever bought a used unit in Canada, and then brought it over? It would also need to be stored for a few months, (weather), and then transported stateside to then have the title converted over to US title. Anyone ever done this? How much hassle was it? Something to consider, or just too much trouble??? Any pointers you could offer would be helpful.
Thanks so much in advance.
Betty L.
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Old 11-27-2008, 07:47 PM   #2
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Name: Rachel
Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
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Hi Betty,

I did this twice a few months ago - as I bought both a Trillium and the Boler in Canada (searched and searched and couldn't find any in the US). I came through at two different border crossings so that doubles the sample size

US Customs (at the border) isn't bothered, as long as you're not transporting aliens or something (they did check inside the trailer). They apparently only care if it's a motorized vehicle. No duty either, because of NAFTA. I had checked this out ahead of time.

What I did not realize (then) was that Canada does not have vehicle titles like we do; they have "ownership." It's like the registration paper doubles as title (or something like that). It's called "Transfer Vehicle Permit." and is a small slip of a bit bigger than a deck of cards. Another thing to know is that Canadians have to turn in their license plates, so you'll need something to put on the back. My state has a thing called a "trip permit" that you can buy (online) that is good for a three day trip of a new-to-you vehicle or trailer or unregistered vehicle/trailer you own already. It costs $5

So the first trailer was a bit more trouble because I didn't realize all the stuff I had to do for my home state until after I'd come through the border. I had been focusing on getting into the US (thinking that would be the problem spot), and hadn't realized that Canadians wouldn't have a title to give me. It was only when I checked with my state the next day (since I had no title), that I realized that I would have to "import" the trailer for them. Not for the US but for my state. So check with your state DMV to see what they want.

In my case, they wanted two forms filled out by US Customs in order to "import" the trailer, along with a Bill of Sale. Since I had not taken care of them when I crossed the border, I found out that I could do it at any port, and that the airport in a large city near where I live was a "port." I called them and they said "come on down."

They had the forms that the state had requested, which were a US DOT Form #HS-7, and a Department of Homeland Security form #7501. They came out and looked at the serial # on the trailer to verify it. I guess since this state requires it, they are used to doing it, so there was no problem, except for the fun of driving into the airport with a travel trailer

Okay, so then the next time (a couple of weeks later) I thought I had it all figured out. I had the HS-7 and the 7501 with me when I picked up the trailer, and I stopped inside at the US Customs station right at the border. This was late at night so there were no other customers, just me and about six officers.

Well, they didn't want to do the importation. They said something like "Oh come on. It's not even motorized. We don't need to import it!" I explained that I agreed with them, but that my state required it and could they please just import it. They said "No, it's not necessary.". Eventually I begged and they did it. I was very happy about that since I did not want to drive to the airport with another trailer!

So now I'm feeling pretty good: I've got all my paperwork in order and I go to the DMV. I went in with all the paperwork for both trailers. They checked all my forms, did all the stuff they do, printed out two titles, and handed them to me. Sweet!

But then the woman went away for about 30 minutes, and I could see her "Googling" and conferring with another employee. Not a good sign. She eventually came out and said she'd have to take the titles back. What!? I almost wanted to bolt out the door with them but I did reluctantly hand them over. So close!

Well, based on their research and a phone call, they decided that I needed one MORE form; one that the previous owners would have to fill out. (I actually think this may have been incorrect, because they showed me a Canadian document showing that Canadians have to fill out this form when buying a vehicle "in province," but it looked like if it was being sold to someone in a different province it didn't need to be filled out. I felt that coming to the US would be more like a different province; and also when I called to find out how to import, this was never mentioned. Or maybe it is required and someone forgot to tell me on the phone.)

Anyway, the previous owners now had to fill out a TOD, or "Transfer of Ownership Document" to go along with the Transfer Vehicle Permit. Luckily, both POs were amenable, but I was sweating bullets until I had the two titles in hand again (the following week). It wouldn't have been difficult to get the TOD when I picked up the trailer, if I had known about it.

I really can't imagine that Arkansas would be as demanding, but of course you'd want to check with them to see what you would need, remembering that a Canadian will not have a "title" to the trailer, in our sense of the document.

I hope this helps; let me know if there's anything I can clarify.

Raya
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Old 11-27-2008, 10:13 PM   #3
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Name: Roy
Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Ontario
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Betty,

Like Raya says ... check with your state DMV or equivalent.

I learnt bringing a trailer from the US to Canada that not all States require a title to trailers under various weights (eg 3000 lbs).

My story with getting the right documentation was similar to Raya's. Get the right forms and the right people.

If you get somebody new, you are more likely to have problems, ask to speak to someone that has been around for a few years and you'll get someone that has most likely processed the paperwork before and understands most of the "wierd" ways of the world that exist beyond the state line.

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Old 11-27-2008, 11:18 PM   #4
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....another point.

IMHO:
It is ALWAYS a good idea to get the name and 'position' and work location (...Port?) of the border crossing people you have talked with both in person AND phone/email. This way IF there is some question as to WHO said WHAT, you have 'someone' to refer to when they ask "Who told you that..?"


....a Port Of Entry??
I COULD be w w wrong, but I was led to believe that a Port Of Entry was a border crossing which was open 24/7
(an AIR Port??, why not a Sea Port??)
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Old 11-27-2008, 11:24 PM   #5
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Name: Rachel
Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
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(an AIR Port??, why not a Sea Port??)
Doug, I went to the airport because it was on my way home, whereas to go to the nearest sea port that qualified would have been three hours extra in the opposite direction.

But (as I knew the second time), there is no reason they cannot do it at the border crossing; I just didn't know to ask the first time.

And yes, Roy, in the state where I used to live there was nothing required for trailers under 2,000 lbs. Major variation between states on this.

R.
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Old 11-28-2008, 12:08 AM   #6
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Name: Chris & Maureen
Trailer: 1994 20 ft Bigfoot 5th Wheel
Washington
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Hi, Betty.

Here's another important point, that probably didn't come up for Raya based on the age of the trailer. For vehicles less than 25 years old, it’s important to have a US DOT sticker to show that it meets safety and wiring standards. Vehicles older than that are exempt from that requirement.

We had a terrible scare at the border when we purchased our old 1984 trailer in Canada. It had the Canadian version of a DOT sticker, but that didn’t do the trick. It’s a long story that I can’t go into here, but it all turned out fine in the end. We also know another couple who are members on this forum who had an even bigger hassle last summer over the exact same issue, the DOT sticker. They were fortunate to have Bigfoot Industries provide a letter documenting that the trailer they bought was built to US standards.

If you could make sure the trailer has a US DOT sticker, or get a letter form the company, it will save you the frustration of possibly having to leave your trailer at the border. If you’re purchasing a trailer that is more than 25 years old, you should have no problem with that.

By the way, the question of doing an “importation” never even came up for us, and when we registered our trailer, there the Canadian version of a “title” worked just fine. So it is good to check with your state DMV.

Good luck!

Maureen
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Old 11-28-2008, 12:13 AM   #7
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Name: Rachel
Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
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Good point, Maureen,

I do remember that I was asked if it was over 25 years old. Since it was, I guess I escaped the DOT sticker issue. Good that you mentioned it.

R.
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Old 11-28-2008, 05:49 AM   #8
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Oregon
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I learnt bringing a trailer from the US to Canada that not all States require a title to trailers under various weights (eg 3000 lbs).
Absolutely true. However, you could set yourself up for future problems for a future sale. How many times have we seen trailers for sale on CraigsList and eBay that say "no title." That automatically sends up red flags. Many times, others have advised to "run the other way." It's not the only factor, in these ads but mitigating. It may be a hassle to get the title business taken care of, but surely it would be easier to do it at time of purchase, rather than several years later.

BTW: Oregon requires a title to register a trailer and all trailers are registered, even relatively small utility trailers.
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Old 11-28-2008, 08:07 AM   #9
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Name: Roy
Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Ontario
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It may be a hassle to get the title business taken care of, but surely it would be easier to do it at time of purchase, rather than several years later.
IIRC, the previous owners of ours, could have easily gotten a title in MA. Problem was they did not want to pay the back taxes etc. to do so. They felt it was cost prohibitive. The trailer was registered in NY and inherited when the PO's father died. They didn't actually take possession till years later and brought it to MA.

It sat in MA with good intentions of one day fixing it up and using it again. Yet they saw no need of paying all the annual fees if they were not going to have it on the road. Their good intentions fell apart when a tree came crashing down on the trailer and they decided to get rid of it. Only after listing it on eBay with title did they learn they would have to pay all the past years fees to obtain a MA title. Both NY and MA did not require title since the trailer was below weight limits for those states.

For importing, we were supposed to have a title to register it locally. Getting an old timer in the transfer office provided the benefit of having someone that knew titles were not required in many areas and they readily accepted the NY registration as the equivalent of our "ownership".

The FMVSS (DOT safety sticker) was another story. I have yet to see a boler American that ever had one. IIRC they were to check for that at the border, but they didn't leave the office to look assuming it was there after I was able to describe the location of the the plate with the serial # on the tongue. I suppose that if this was a big honking motor home they would have, but this was a beat up 35 year old trailer worth a mere $500. Plus we didn't have to work through the RMV beauracracy and tax grab because of the trailers age.

It is important to understand what one needs locally as well as where it came from to transfer the trailer. I agree with Donna. If a title can be obtained, get it. It will make resale across state or international borders much easier in the future, most likely even raising the value of the trailer.
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Old 11-28-2008, 08:31 AM   #10
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I brought one to Canada and hired a Broker. best thing I could have done. for $125. they did all the paperwork and had a guy at the border to ensure it all went smoothly. and it did. seems strange that stick built's are cheaper in the US but eggs often aren't.
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Old 11-28-2008, 04:53 PM   #11
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Name: Betty
Trailer: 2009 Liberty Deluxe Casita
Arkansas
Posts: 105
Hi to All,

Wow, what great info! Such great suggestions, all.
Scott, could you tell me a little more on hiring a broker? I had actually thought of enlisting the aid of a camper dealer, in that town. Who are you suggesting I contact? A camper dealer, or other?
I do live in a state that requires titles on trailers.
The unit I was looking into is actually a Bigfoot, but the plant is supposed to be closed. So, it may not be possible to get a letter from them, to say it was built to US specifications! Someone said the Canadian sticker was not good enough! This might be the deal breaker, after all the hard work I have put into making this deal work!
Any other comments, I would love to hear them!!
I did go to DMV today, but they were closed. Will try again Monday.

Thanks to everyone,
Betty L.
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Old 11-28-2008, 05:38 PM   #12
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Name: Betty
Trailer: 2009 Liberty Deluxe Casita
Arkansas
Posts: 105
Quote:
Hi to All,

Wow, what great info! Such great suggestions, all.
Scott, could you tell me a little more on hiring a broker? I had actually thought of enlisting the aid of a camper dealer, in that town. Who are you suggesting I contact? A camper dealer, or other?
I do live in a state that requires titles on trailers.
The unit I was looking into is actually a Bigfoot, but the plant is supposed to be closed. So, it may not be possible to get a letter from them, to say it was built to US specifications! Someone said the Canadian sticker was not good enough! This might be the deal breaker, after all the hard work I have put into making this deal work!
Any other comments, I would love to hear them!!
I did go to DMV today, but they were closed. Will try again Monday.

Thanks to everyone,
Betty L.
P.S. just a note, I welcome all comments. Seems I have my heart set on this particular unit, but it may just not be possible. It may be best to find this out ahead of time, is it is not possible.
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Old 11-29-2008, 12:15 AM   #13
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Name: Deb & Chuck
Trailer: Bigfoot, Boler, Trillium, ECO, U-Haul, Burro, Escape, Trailswest, Compact Jr., Casita, Scamp
Washington
Posts: 632
Betty, we are the couple that Maureen was talking about in her post. We purchased a 1988 Bigfoot 5th wheel from a private party in Alberta. It was several hours of a long drawn out stress filled time at the border crossing because no US Dot sticker, and we couldn't prove that the unit was originally made to US specs. The border crossing chief and staff were very helpful and nice, our unit just didn't have the sticker it needed. We had personally met the owner and her son that owned and ran Bigfoot Industries the summer before at a Bigfoot owners rally, and I reminder them we were already very pleased Bigfoot owners, is the only reason after several hours that we got the letter faxed that we needed. I know for sure even if the Bigfoot factory was still open that they wouldn't generate a letter, it was totally because of our previous meeting them and ownership of other Bigfoot products that they went above and beyond to help us out. If we hadn't gotten the letter from Bigfoot, we had a Canadian broker lined up that had agreed to use his bond for the fee of $425.00, to get us across the border. In retrospect I wouldn't do it again unless the trailer was 25 years or more older, but we had our hearts set on the Bigfoot 5th wheel model and they are hard to locate particularly in good condition anywhere. So hope our been-there done-that lesson helps you.
Also, once we were able to cross back into the states with the border crossing paperwork, our local DMV didn't have any problems accepting that paperwork for our purchase. We eventually were mailed a title from our state.
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