How do I import my vehicle on a TN Visa or L-1 Visa? - Resources Blog - US Immigration FAQs - Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law - Buffalo NY

Under agreements between the United States and Canada, Canadians are permitted to tour in the USA without USA license plates or USA driver’s permits. For Canadians working in the USA on a TN Visa or an L-1 Visa, you may have a vehicle that you would like to bring with you. Here’s how to comply with the importation requirements with US Customs & Border Protection (CBP).

Can I import my vehicle from Canada to the U.S. while on a TN or L1 visa?

As long as your vehicle is for personal use and meets the standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) it may be imported. Vehicles manufactured in Canada that meet U.S. standards are typically exported for sale in the United States. For this reason, it is highly improbable that your Canadian vehicle meets all relevant U.S. standards. Vehicles manufactured in Canada entering the United States that do not conform with U.S. safety standards must be made compliant, exported back to Canada, or destroyed. We recommend verifying with USCBP if your vehicle meets U.S. safety and emission standards.

How long do I have to import my vehicle while on a TN or L1 visa?

Canadians working in the U.S. under TN or L1 visa status can import a vehicle duty-free for personal use for up to (1) one year if the vehicle is imported in conjunction with the owner’s arrival (your admission on either TN Visa or L-1 Visa status). Vehicles imported under this provision that do not conform to U.S. safety and emission standards must be exported within one year and may not be sold in the USA. There is no exemption or extension of the export requirements.

Can I drive my vehicle with my foreign plates?

Under agreements with the United States, Canadian and Mexican nationals are allowed to visit the U.S. without U.S. license plates or U.S. driver’s permits. If your visit exceeds one (1) year you will be required to meet U.S. standards for your vehicle and driver’s license.

Are there any exceptions?

If your vehicle falls under any of the following exceptions, it does not need to meet the U.S. emission or safety requirements:

  • Vehicles imported by nonresidents for personal use not exceeding one year. The vehicle must be exported at the end of that year – there are no exceptions or extensions.
  • Vehicles belonging to members of foreign armed forces, foreign diplomatic personnel, or other individuals who come within the class of persons for whom free entry has been authorized by the Department of State in accordance with international law.
  • Vehicles temporarily imported for testing, demonstration, or competition, provided they are not licensed for use, or driven on public roads. These vehicles may be operated on public roads or highways provided the operations are an integral part of the test. You must have all required forms and approvals ready for CBP at the time of entry.

How do I import my vehicle on a TN visa or L1 visa?

If you plan on importing your vehicle from Canada in conjunction with your entry on a TN or L1 visa, have your documentation ready before you cross the border. You must have:

  • Proof of vehicle ownership – Your car title or a certified copy of the original.
  • Verify Vehicle Compliance to US Standards – This can be verified with the stickers on the inside of the driver’s door. There should be two (2) stickers, a DOT Sticker and an EPA sticker. You can also obtain a letter from the manufacturer confirming your vehicle meets both DOT and EPA standards. This may not apply if your car is 25 years or older. If your vehicle does not meet U.S. standards it cannot be imported into the U.S. for more than one year unless it is converted by a licensed mechanic.
  • Duty Fees– Be prepared to pay any applicable duty fees.
  • Complete EPA Standard Form 3520-1
  • Complete DOT Form HS-7

We do NOT handle the importation of vehicles, nor can we advise on the importation process. We recommend verifying directly with USCBP to make sure your vehicle meets U.S. standards and for guidance on the process.

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