Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Re: Importing BMW into Canada recall letter fees
I just went through the whole process in April/May 2010 with a beautiful K1200LT and Hannigan sidecar. This is my third vehicle from the States (One car, two motorcycles). It is really quite simple and you will save between 35-50% of the cost of buying the same vehicle in Canada. I doubt I will ever buy in Canada again, until the prices come into line with the States.
BMW is sticky and unpleasant about the recall clearance letters, but RIV is very reasonable to deal with. Just ask the seller to verify with his dealer that there are no "outstanding campaigns"... the dealer gives him a little printout with the VIN and those magic words, and voila, send it to RIV and they're happy. There is no need whatsoever to pay the $500 extortion fee to BMW Canada. And if your USA seller (dealer or private) won't give you the letter, then just take your money and move on... because the next one will!
The guys at the border are very accustomed to Canadians bringing home vehicles, because it happens about a quarter of a million times a year. Plan to spend about 10-15 minutes at the US crossing and 30 minutes at the Canadian one. One tip, I find the lineups much longer at the big busy crossings... just find a nice quiet little one and you make their day by giving them something interesting to do. Then once you're home, it's off to Canadian Tire to check the VIN again... you will likely not even have time for a cup of coffee... and then a provincial inspection with your favourite independent dealer. Stop at the registration office on the way home, and you're completely done.
And remember, you're not just saving $10,000 or so.... that money is after-tax! So how much money do you have to earn on your T-4 to get the $10,000.... maybe $15,000-$20,000? Kind of makes the whole thing even more worthwhile. Of course, you have to take a few days to drive or ride the vehicle home... but for me, it's a nice vacation and you get to see some new country.
If you have any questions, there is an outfit called UCanImport.com that will walk you through everything... the website is free and if they really help you, you can sign up for $19.95 (or not as you wish).
So good luck and I hope this helps,