Importing a Nissan LEAF (US to Canada) – my experience

I imported my Nissan LEAF from the United States into Canada in the fall of 2014. These are the steps I took at that time. Requirements may have changed since then; please check into all of the steps yourself to confirm.

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The day I picked up my LEAF (mine on left, poor parking job). Charging in Bellingham.

General Importation Steps:

1. Decide on the car you want to buy.

2. Ensure the car can be imported into Canada and look into the upgrades/modifications that might be needed (for passenger cars, look at Transport Canada’s list). Check out the Registrar of Imported Vehicles site also for admissibility and importation requirements. In my case, I only had to have daytime running lights installed on my 2015 Nissan LEAF S (I did this once in Canada).

3. Buy the car.

4. Acquire a copy of the title and bill of sale. Acquire a letter from the manufacturer (probably via the dealer) indicating there are no open recalls on the vehicle.

5. Obtain an Internal Transfer Number (ITN) . This was a new requirement enacted just before I exported. As I didn’t have a US address, I had to get a Customs Broker for this part only, to obtain an ITN (I used Pacific Customs Brokers). (This cost me $175.90.)

6. Choose your preferred port of entry (out of the US, into Canada) and contact them to find out their vehicle export/import requirements. I used Sumas crossing, and had to fill out a form and submit the paperwork at least 3 days in advance of wanting to export/import (paperwork was their form, copy of bill of sale, copy of title, and ITN). ***Tip: ensure your date of export on all forms matches the date you show up at the border.

7. Get a binder of insurance to ensure the car is covered once you cross the border into Canada (I think it was valid for 10 days; the US dealer should provide you with something temporary to cover you in the US).

8. Once all paperwork is ready to go, pick up the car and drive it to the border. ***Tip: give yourself LOTS of time to get to the border. They have strict export/import times, it can take awhile, and you don’t want to miss your day.

9. At the border, you will export the car from the US, referencing copies of all the forms you have submitted to the border already.

10. You also must import the car to Canada, including submitting some RIV forms at the border, and paying GST.

11. Upon importation, get any modifications done (as per RIV requirements). I had to get daytime running lights installed (this cost me $172.56 at a local Nissan dealer, it could probably be done for less).

12. Get a provincial and federal inspection done. (Provincial inspection was done at my local Nissan dealer, cost $134.39. Federal inspection was done at Canadian Tire, covered by the RIV fee of $204.75. The federal inspection will also collect tire levy, $22.40.)

13. Bring all paperwork, including inspection papers, to ICBC (in my case in BC). They will hopefully allow you to register the car in BC. You will pay PST here and insurance.

14. Breathe a sigh of relief that your (likely) multi-week/month ordeal is over, and enjoy your EV!!!

26 thoughts on “Importing a Nissan LEAF (US to Canada) – my experience”

    1. At the time I bought it, about $10,000. At that time, the CDN-US dollar exchange rate was better and there was no $5000 incentive available in BC (there is now).

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  1. There are dealers in vancouver and victoria that bring leafs over the border and do all the paper work-this is how I got my leaf in 2013

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    1. Yes I know. At the time I was looking, they (Victoria / Vancouver dealers) still weren’t able to get a LEAF for nearly the same price I was finally able to find it. By jumping through some hoops, I was able to get the US federal tax credit ($7500 USD, around $8500 CAD at the time) off the point of purchase, when there was no incentive in place in BC, so I jumped through the hoops and did the waiting to get it myself). If was looking now, I’d definitely get someone else to import it for me, as it is much simpler. But, I thought I’d write up the process for anyone else who might benefit from it.

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      1. Canadian dealers as still marking up their US imported Leafs by a large amount. There is currently an issue with the passenger occupant air bag sensor recall. Parts are in short supply. But a US sourced Leaf is still much cheaper if you do it yourself, once the recall repair has been completed.

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  2. Hi Rebecca,
    Just imported my Leaf thanks to your instructions. Having trouble finding someone to do the daytime running lights. My dealer here says they don’t think it can be done and won’t touch it. Would you let me know the contact info for the dealer who did yours? Thanks so much for detailing the process.

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    1. I’m glad to hear it helped! Enjoy your LEAF! I had my daytime running lights done at Mertin Nissan in Chilliwack (http://www.mertinnissan.com/). It was not a big deal for them. I’ve also heard good things about Morrey Nissan in Burnaby (http://www.morreynissanburnaby.com/en/) though have never been there personally. As well, if you’re on or near the island, Motorize Auto Direct (https://motorize.ca/) does a lot of LEAF imports and sales, and I’m sure they’d be able to point you to somewhere it could be done. Good luck!

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  3. Hi Rebecca, I too have just bought a 2013 Leaf SV from the USA. I live in Calgary. I called 2 Nissan dealers here for the DRL’s and they quoted me $1,100 !! I think that is totally out to lunch! Can you let me know what your dealer did and how much it cost? I can then tell my dealer here to call them up and learn how to do it!
    Also, what about Carwings, how do I get this to work in Canada? Nissan won’t help me re that saying too bad, it’s a USA car.

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    1. Congratulations on your new (to you) LEAF! I’m sure you’re going to love it.

      Your daytime running lights quotes seem extremely high. I had mine done at Mertin Nissan in Chilliwack (http://www.mertinnissan.com/). I don’t know exactly what they did, but it was not a big deal for them. I’ve also heard good things about Morrey Nissan in Burnaby (http://www.morreynissanburnaby.com/en/) though have never been there personally.

      As for Carwings, I’m not totally sure as my LEAF (S trim) didn’t have Carwings at all. I would suggest asking in the Canada Nissan LEAF owners facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/282243388457758/) or searching/asking on the My Nissan LEAF forum (http://www.mynissanleaf.com/). Good luck!

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    2. Hello Paul,

      I’m also from Calgary and interested in purchasing a used Nissan Leaf. Since there aren’t any for sale in Alberta, and I’ve come across some decently priced ones online in the US, I’ve been considering importing one. What was the process like for importing to Calgary? Did you get the car imported directly to Calgary? And what are all the costs associated with importing? Also were you able to figure out the daytime running lights cost issue?

      Thank you,

      Auston

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      1. Auston, contact me direct via my email so we don’t clutter up this forum. Paulcf at gmail dot com. I can help you out. Tks.

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  4. Hi Rebbeca,
    I live in Manitoba and I’m willing to import a Leaf from US (…paying near to 3x less than Canadian price).
    I’m still doing my researches about that (that’s how I found your blog and this post) and I’m glad that you’ve shared your experience.
    Your “importing guide” was really well written, providing lots of important details.
    I should say that I feel way more encouraged after reading it.

    Thank you!

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    1. Thank you! I am very glad to hear that my post has been helpful to you – it’s exactly why I wrote it up!

      If you are looking for more tips or insight from Canadians with LEAFs, including in the prairies, I suggest checking out the Canada Nissan LEAF Owners Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/282243388457758/. I know for sure of at least one active person in the group who is from Manitoba!

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  5. I just stumbled on this and have one quick comment. We moved to BC from the US in 2007 and gad DRLs done at a local Canadian Tire in Victoria. I think it was $300 per car.

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  6. Hi,

    Nice write up !

    by the way what happen if I show up at the US export office, one day earlier than what is written on the forms that I submitted ?
    In my case I wrote Tuesday, but on my email that I received I said that I can export it on Monday.

    Thank you
    Novita

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    1. That would be a question for the border folks. It’s a bit fuzzy now, but I think my date on the form (anticipated export date) was also a day off from the actual export (I think actual was one day later) and it caused a bit of grief at the border (I think some phone calls had to be made when I was there), but was not a deal breaker in my case. It may be worth trying to update the forms you submitted so the dates match. Good luck!

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      1. Yeah, I showed up one day earlier that what is written on the worksheet. But, the officer didn’t seem to care …
        Everything went fine 🙂

        Thank you.

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    1. I’m not completely certain, so would recommend checking. Living near the US border, I bought the car with the idea in the back of my mind that if something went catastrophically wrong with it, I would be able to take it back to the US for its warranty if it came to that. I think for many things (at least smaller ones), Nissan Canada would honour it, but I never did get a crystal clear answer on that. There are now tons of used LEAFs in Canada, so I’d be surprised if they are all not covered by warranty. A good place to ask might be Motorize in Sidney, BC, as they import and sell a lot of used EVs from the US (https://motorize.ca/).

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  7. Hi Rebecca, and thanks for the article! I’ve imported vehicles in the past, but never an electric. I’m very interested in learning how you managed to qualify for the $7,500 U.S. Federal Tax Credit. Thanks!

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    1. It was a very lucky situation. Someone from the dealership leased the car in their name (they were a US citizen) and then I paid for it to buy it out, so I essentially bought a ‘used’ new car. That loophole may have been closed but worth inquiring about. Alternatively, try to find someone who files taxes in the US buy a vehicle for you and then buy it from them.

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