Importing A Boat Into Canada From The United States

I live in Windsor Ontario, and have access to the vastly more competitive market for boat sales in Michigan. Recently, I imported a power boat (2018 Chaparral H20 Fish and Ski 19) into Canada. It was a bit of a process, and given I will likely repeat it in the future, I wanted to document it, mainly so I don’t forget what one has to do 🙂


I found the boat on Facebook Marketplace and reached out to the seller. We chatted first on messenger, then text, then via a phone call. We agreed on price and I sent a deposit to the seller. We agreed that I will send him a picture of the bank draft for the remainder the day before the meetup.

Meeting Place

We agreed on a meeting time, and he let me know the address the day before the meetup. Just to be safe, I went with a friend. We met up with the seller and finalized the transaction.

Finalizing the Transaction

  1. Sales Documentation
    • I ensured that the seller produced a bill of sale for the boat, that included information that would be needed to register the boat in Canada (as per this link)
    • I ensured the owner signed the title of the boat over to me

So with my sales docs in hand, my boat and trailer hooked up to my truck, I proceeded back home. Also worth mentioning, that in Michigan, one can travel with a non plated trailer if proceeding directly home from buying it. I took a bit of a flyer on that last link, but it made sense that if pulled over, I could explain that I had just bought the trailer.

Crossing The Border

I got to the border, and proceeded to customs to do customs things. I’ve imported a boat before, and was a bit nervous about it…but mainly because my previous boat did not come with a title.

  1. Border Process
    • Go to the secondary inspection and show them the title for the boat, as well as the bill of sale, mainly for the purpose of figuring out taxes. Do not try and screw with the sales value, as they will ask you for verification, such as the listing on the internet, or text messages. At least they did for me
    • I paid my taxes, and obtained an RIV Form 1, which essentially began the vehicle import process for the trailer.

Registering The Trailer & Boat

  1. Trailer Import
    • I was told that the next step would be to go to the RIV website, and pay my RIV fee after my case had been entered into the system. Theoretically, this would take a business day. I waited a business day, and when my VIN did not show up in the online portal mentioned above, decided to call the RIV. I spoke to a nice woman who informed me that the border agent type-o-d my trailers’ VIN and asked me to submit the trailer’s compliance label, as well as RIV Form 1 again, to manually open up a case. 10 mins later, I had a case I could confirm by logging into the RIV website via the VIN of the trailer, after which I could pay the RIV Fee.
    • After paying the RIV Fee, I was assigned an inspection form, which I had to take to Canadian Tire for a trailer inspection. NOTE: This form should be printed, and left blank for the tech to fill out.
    • I booked the inspection for the next day, and headed to Canadian Tire.
    • The inspection went super smooth and the tech told me that the data for the inspection was faxed to the RIV. Later that day, I got a “congratulations you’ve successfully completed the import process” email.
  2. Producing Ownership and Plating The Trailer
    • I went to the Service Ontario with my newly filled out and approved RIV Form 1, bill of sale and title for boat and requested a plate for the trailer.
    • The gentleman at Service Ontario, was a little surprised that I did INSIST on a title for a trailer. How could I possibly buy a trailer without one? Welp. I did. Perhaps because I’m a sucker. This is where I got a bit nervous. How the heck would I get a trailer title? He suggested I call the Secretary of State (Michigan) and get them to FAX “Proof Of Registration” DIRECTLY to that Service Ontario office. I called the S.O.S. and after holding for an hour and a half, was told that I needed to fill out a vehicle information information request. So I did that. 7-10 business days later, I would have proof of who the trailer was registered to.
    • However, given I live across the river from Detroit, and I work in the States, I came up with an alternate plan. According to the S.O.S. process for buying a used trailer, one only has to have a bill of sale to obtain a title for a trailer not previously titled. So I made an appointment to the S.O.S. for the next day, and did just that.
    • I then marched back to Service Ontario, produced my Form 1, my title for the trailer, paid some more tax and fees, and walked out with plates and an ownership! HUZZAAAA!
  3. Registering The Boat
  • I did this right after I got my boat back to Canada, as honestly I thought this process would take a long time. According to transport Canada, to register a boat (with new registration numbers), one has to go online, submit the bill of sale of the boat, snap a few pics of the vessel, and fill out some personal info about the owner.
  • My temporary registration email appeared thirty minutes later…and I rushed to order a custom registration number sticker. In my rush…I ofcourse ordered the letters in HULL COLOUR. DOH
  • My permanent registration doc came a few days later.

Fees Incurred

-Sales tax for boat: 13% of value once converted to CAD

-Sales tax for trailer (GST): 7% of trailer value once converted to CAD

-Sales tax for trailer (PST): 8% of trailer value once converted to CAD

-RIV FEE: $325 + GST

-Trailer Title Fee (Michigan): ~$90 USD

-Registration & Ownership Fee: $95 CAD

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