With some shame I have plagiarized the following article from the excellent Winnipeg Free Press because I’m pretty sure it’s important to all Canadian gearheads.


By: Ashley Prest
Posted: 05/6/2014

If you are planning to buy a used vehicle in the United States and bring it home to Canada, a new U.S. government rule means a bit more legwork. If you don’t do it, it could cost you a lot more money.

What is the Automated Export System?

The Automated Export System (AES) is a mandatory filing requirement by the U.S. Census Bureau of Electronic Export Information (EEI). The exporter or authorized agent must file the vehicle’s EEI information using AES.

From AES, the importer (or authorized agent) will receive an Internal Transaction Number (ITN) number in a confirmation message. This number must be presented to U.S. Customs to bring the vehicle into Canada. (www.riv.ca)

The rule requires electronic export information (EEI) to be filed for any used “self-propelled vehicles” — any automobile, truck, tractor, bus, motorcycle, motor home, agricultural machinery, construction equipment or any other kind of special-use machinery designed for running on land — through the U.S. Government’s automated export system (AES).

“Starting April 5, the exporter in the U.S. is required to file automated export system information. They have to report to the U.S. Census to tell them who they are, what they’re sending, whom it’s going to, in a nutshell,” said Trevor Franzmann, sales and marketing manager at A.D. Rutherford International, a Winnipeg customs broker who works with customers on both sides of the U.S./Canada border.

“This is absolutely making it more difficult to buy a vehicle in the U.S. and bring it across the border.”

Statistics Canada’s international accounts and trade division figures for 2013 showed there were 1,332 self-propelled vehicles imported to Manitoba alone from the U.S., for a total value of about $44 million. Across Canada in 2013, there were 18,441 vehicles brought in from the U.S., for a total value of more than $555 million.

Since April 5, self-propelled vehicles exported from the U.S. to Canada are no longer exempt from AES filing. The filing must take place 72 hours prior to crossing the border.

A fine up to $10,000, under the U.S. Census Bureau foreign trade regulations, can be levied for failing to submit the AES information.

“It’s excessive, to say the least. The bottom line is it (the vehicle purchased) is not going to be allowed in the country (Canada) if you don’t file your AES filing,” Franzmann said.

An “informed compliance” period is in place until Oct. 2, giving people time to figure out the new requirements. Franzmann said Canadian buyers of vehicles from the U.S. should start complying right now or risk having the vehicle held up at the border.

“People should also be aware that, even though there is informed compliance right now, U.S. Customs has the right to deny you entry if you don’t file the AES,” he said.

Once the AES filing has been completed, an internal transaction number (ITN) will be assigned. The importer or a customs broker needs to present that number to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to bring the vehicle across the border.

“Simply, it ends up being the Canadian (buyer’s) responsibility to make sure AES filing is done, because that vehicle is not going to get into the country (Canada) unless you are provided with an ITN, an internal transaction number,” Franzmann said.

A potential problem is that to complete the AES filing, the U.S. seller is required to have a federal tax identification number called an EIN. Private individuals in the U.S. might not have an EIN number but, under the new rule, the American seller will have to get one to comply with the AES filing.
That means taking the time to apply to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and some private sellers don’t want to do that.

“What we’re telling our customers is find out if the seller has or will get an EIN number. If the seller won’t, don’t buy or get your money back,” Franzmann said.

Another possible point of confusion is which person is ultimately responsible for the AES filing.

Dale Kelly, chief of the U.S. foreign trade division, said that can vary with the location of the Canadian purchasing the vehicle.

“If the person from Canada (the importer) is actually in the U.S. at the time the goods are purchased or obtained for export, then that person/company/individual is considered the U.S. principal party in interest and responsible for the filing of the AES,” Kelly said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

“Only if the merchandise was sold by a U.S. person or company and the Canadian person never came to the U.S., then that U.S. company would be considered the U.S. principal party in interest.”

Canadians importing a vehicle must be prepared to meet all requirements at the U.S. border in addition to paying fees and taxes. Canadian Border Services Agency spokeswoman Esme Bailey said Canadians should contact the CBSA before they plan to import a vehicle by calling 1-800-461-9999 and visiting the website http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 6, 2014 A6

For years I’d promised myself that when I retired I’d buy a vehicle somewhere far away, go get it and drive it home. Things came to a head the first day I took a load of walnuts to Neil’s farm for hulling. I had opted to load the nuts into the back of my SUV rather than attaching a trailer. I’d sprinkled preservative over the nuts to inhibit mould and I didn’t know how toxic it was, so I wore a fume mask and drove with the windows all open. That gets old after a couple of miles on a cold, wet morning. Walnut flies being what they are, and the nuts having sat for a couple of days, there were some grubs in the nuts. One of the tubs had a crack in the bottom. After unloading the nuts in Neil’s yard, I looked in amazement at the entire back of the 4Runner alive with maggots, an exact match for the beige carpet.

The time for a pickup truck had arrived.

It had to be a Toyota, of course, but I’ve historically had a hard time with their dealers. Brockville and Kingston outlets simply didn’t sell what I wanted to buy, a four cylinder, five speed, regular cab, four-wheel-drive truck. I found the ideal new truck in Watertown, only to have the salesman throw me off the lot when he discovered I am Canadian. They’re a bit paranoid down there.

I inquired at customs about bringing a vehicle from the States into Canada. The helpful U.S. guy heard my tale of woe and immediately called the Watertown dealer. Turns out a used truck had come in that day. I drove home from the border, eager to call and set up a deal on the new trade-in. The salesman wouldn’t give me the time of day. I must rub that guy the wrong way, or something.

In desperation I turned to eBay. With ridiculous ease I had purchased a truck within the hour. Gleefully I emailed my pal in Reading, PA to ask him to have a look at my new truck in Pittsburgh. “Pittsburgh? Why did you buy one there? That’s five and a half hours away!” Ulp. Guess I should have looked at the map.

O.K., I’ll fly down and pick it up. Watertown to Pittsburgh takes six and a half hours, with stopovers in Boston and New York. I could drive it in that time.

Charlie offered to run me down the following weekend, so we set up a meeting in Lansdowne, Bet packed enough food for two days, and off we went on Saturday morning.

This was my first ride in Charlie’s Audi A4 Quattro. Nice car. The Audi navigation system he bought on eBay and installed in the dealer’s parking lot (specialized tools) really came into its own on this trip. A savvy Internet guy can download just about anything these days, even a complete installation manual for an Audi navigation system. I nicknamed it “Claire.”

After the right turn at Syracuse I began to see more and more walnut trees. They seem a bit spindlier than the ones growing in Forfar. Then came the wine country. South of Lake Erie is a lovely drive through a rich landscape. The grape harvest seemed to be in full swing on the same day that I had scraped my windshield in Smiths Falls. Very few trees had changed colour down here.

I looked at these vast fields of vines and thought of my own puny efforts hand-picking Neil’s grapes. Then I saw a grape harvester, a tall device for straddling the vines, apparently based upon a 1950 Farmall tractor. Maybe they don’t get used a lot in the off-season.

Claire’s instructions kept us in the correct lane into Pittsburgh, across the bridge and into the tunnel. Tunnel? Charlie told me that the computer detects that it has lost signal and assumes it’s in a tunnel, so it relies upon inertia and dead reckoning to keep the driver on target until it can find a satelite again. Clever Claire. Before long it told us to look to the left because we had arrived at our destination. After eight hours of driving I saw the new truck, parked on the street in front of a little used car dealership.

There’s no elbow room in Pittsburgh. The car lot was full. To examine the truck I had to risk impact from passing cars and trucks. I crawled under for a look, anyway. Not bad, though they apparently haven’t heard of rustproofing that far south. Someone had done a magnificent job of cleaning the truck, inside, out, top and underside.

While I test drove the truck with a dealership employee as guide, the manager discovered that Charlie’s a photographer, so he strongly recommended a trip to the top of the mountain to view the cityscape. We couldn’t reasonably ask Claire to direct us on this trip, so Charlie set off and I followed in my new truck. Chaos quickly resulted. Pittsburgh is no place to get lost in convoy. After a couple of near misses we abandoned all hope of photographs and headed for the tunnel.

On the first hill the Tacoma seemed a bit anemic in the power department. The tires rode rock-hard and shook on some surfaces. We pulled off at first opportunity, a service centre about twenty miles from the city centre.

Turns out the used car dealer’s crew could wash cars well, but that’s about it. The emergency brake was stuck on, leaving a back brake drum quite hot. That explained the lack of power on the hill. Tire pressures were forty pounds on the left side and fifty on the right, instead of the 26 recommended. The spare, of course, was flat.

A little worried that these bozos had also changed the oil, we pressed on and found a motel for the night. Charlie had to have a room with 1) no evidence of cigarette smoke and 2) wireless Internet. The third motel offered both, and a cot for him. I gratefully settled into a novel and he re-established contact with his world.