Exporting a car from Canada to the United States involves filling out the appropriate U.S. Customs and Border Patrol forms and making sure the vehicle meets U. S. safety and emission standards. It is also advisable to get temporary insurance from the province where the vehicle was purchased.
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol forms are used to verify the vehicle being exported and for the vehicle inspection. Vehicles made in Canada or the U.S. are exempt from custom duties. Other vehicles being exported must pay import duties, but a returning U.S. resident may use customs' exemption credits towards the price. As of 2015, that exemption is $400.00 per person and all family members may use their exemption towards the duty fee.
U.S. Customs requires the driver and occupants to enter the border crossing building while the vehicle is inspected. The process usually takes about 30 minutes if there are no issues. In accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the vehicle must be pest-free. Getting the car steam-sprayed or washed before crossing will avoid unnecessary delays. Letters or forms from the vehicle seller are needed to verify the vehicle has the required EPA approved emission equipment installed.
The temporary Canadian insurance covers the vehicle until it crosses the border, and is wise even if the vehicle is covered by a U.S. policy. Once back home, the vehicle needs registration, which in some states also means passing a smog inspection.