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Canada - U.S. car import conspiracy?

By: staff

Date: Saturday, 01. March 2008

Two Canadian car leasing companies are alleging the Canadian government is conspiring to prevent its citizens from crossing the border to purchase cars at prices made much lower by the drop of the U.S. dollar.

"We're alleging that Transport Canada, Mercedes, BMW and Canada Border Services Agency have violated the Competition Act in regard to people who are importing American vehicles into Canada," said Lawyer Brian Osler, whose firm filed the suit on behalf of Fournier Leasing Company Ltd. and Canadian Auto Associates Ltd. They are seeking class-action status for their claim.

Canadians purchasing vehicles in the U.S. must go through a complex process to ensure that all appropriate taxes are paid and the cars meet Canadian pollution and safety standards. The two leasing companies are alleging that Canadians are paying excessive fees for unnecessary vehicle modifications and approvals when they import Mercedes and BMW cars from the United States.

They are alleging that they were compelled to get modifications to BMW and Mercedes cars at exorbitant prices at dealerships instead of going to repair shops of their choice.

"The government has one set of rules for Mercedes and BMW and another set of rules for everyone else," says Mr. Glyn Hotz, a colleague of Brian Osler.

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I purchased a bmw X5 from a dealer in the US. They printed out the vehicle maintenance history report which the RIV will accept as a Recall letter. I called Calgary BMW to ask for the cost to re-program the lights - and specifically asked not to do anything else - the X5 has a dual speedometer. They claimed that they needed to change the cluster & that the cluster and the lights are connected they think we are idiots? I took my car to "Germancarspecialists dot com" in Calgary - who did a great job reprogramming the lights for about $150. Then took the X5 to Canadian tire & passed the inspection.
BMW are obliged to honor the warranty - I know they won't like it.... At the end of the day, I saved almost $20K....the import process is very easy - if you have all your paperwork in order......Good luck


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why is it that every time I post how to bring a bmw into Canada without involving BMW in Canada and paying only $150 in modifications does this website pull my comment off in a few hours?


Folks, Audi wants your business. All you need is the import letter and the dealer treats you like a human. Stay far away from BMW where once imported, the Canadian dealer will treat you like a second class person.


Buy and support Audi. Sorry BMW - very poor customer service.


I am an Australian, now living in Canada. Prior to my arrival in canada,, I purchased a BMW from a reputable USA dealership. I am now in the process of licensing the vehicle in New Brunswick Canada. I am abhored at the costs for modifications(in the vicinity of $3000 ca) Are there ANY alternatives as the vehicle is only 2 years old?? Any assistance would be appreciated. Pauls comments in March 2011 are interesting and I would like to capitalise on his experiences.(Those comments are listed below)

richard 2011 x5 35d,

just expirienced this today over @ BMW of Mississauga.
My running lights are on all the time as soon as you start the engine.Unfortunetly this is not enough for BMW Canada,they say thay since i can shut the DRL system off from inside the cab,these are not 100% DRL.They need to modify this ,so the system will not allow to shut them offat all.
For this -they want 3200 dol,the RCL is included.Thats complite BS !!!
my tel # 416 574 2434-Richard


Maserati does the same.All so they can charge more foe these cars in Canada


Goodbye BMW. I sold my X6 before moving back to Canada. I won't pay those blood suckers another penny. They wanted to change the odometer. It would cost $3000 to do their baloney modification. They even have the cheek to ask for $500 to verify the recall status of the vehicle. They also refused to honor the 4 years maintenance on a new vehicle.
Audi gave my wife her recall status for free.I will be buying Audi's from now on. BMW will lose in the end!! I will never never never ever buy another BMW. Not all German car companies are arrogant, Audi rules!!!!


I ended up getting the running lights put on using a module wired in at a cost of $250 at a Subaru dealer.However the headlight levelers don,t work now,a small thing.When I get service I hope it can be reset.The Mas dealer is trying to tell me I have no warranty,but it is a North American maserati warranty. Yet to be tested.If you buy a 4 year old who cares.Be aware.these cars ride hard because of the tires& our shitty roads in Ontario. Be sure to register within 6 days,at least in Ontario. What a CAR


chickenman what mas the result for your Maserati, I would like to import one but I am effraid with the cost


Recently imported a Maserati. What mess.Dealer wanted $14000 to Canadianize my car.Would not just do the Daytime lights even at $3500 also wanted to charge for cluster change which is not required by Riv,also a recall letter.acopy of which I got from the U.S. Mas dealer at puchase.What bunch of crooks.

lafreniere andre,

j'ai vraiment fait une erreur, PAS 28 MILLIONS MAIS BIEN $280 MILLIONS PAR ANS


Les véhicules de mercedes et de bmw se vendent environ $10,000. de plus au Canada qu'au USA. Alors si l'on considere que 14,000 véhicules sont vendues au Canada par année. Les 2 manufacturiers sont cautionnés par le gouvernement du Cnada pour protéger le marché du Canada. Il en résulte donc un évasion de capitaux du Canada de $28 MILLIONS PAR ANNÉE!!!!


Pire cette situation de différence de prix des manufacturiers est unique au monde au Canada.Nous sommes vraiment mal nprotéger par notre gouvernement...
Nouvelle forme de libre échange et d'accord international qui en plus ne respecte pas l'ALENA...


I'm getting contradictory info on importing a 2009 BMW X5 diesel. The Canadian dealer wants to replace the instrument cluster & reprogram the computer in order to get daytime running lights working plus the mandatory letter from BMW Canada for a total of almost $4000. Reading the literature & talking to a US based BMW dealer, I'm told the daytime running lights are programmable & no major work is necessary. This seems like a scam supported by our gov't through a maze of red tape. Given there is well over $10k difference between the Cdn price & USA price where would you spend your money?


Trevor's comments and opinions are moronic and obviously the musings of a mental midget. If the prices were competitive with what Americans are paying I'm sure Canadians would support the local marketplace. But I'll be damned if I'm going to subsidize the Canadian market to the tune of several thousand dollars. Idiot!


Is there any update to this story?


Which one is cheaper and easier to import into Canada?
2007 BMW 328i or a 2008 Benz C300

I've asked around the bmw dealership here told me id have to get the inspection, a recall letter $500, and a instrument cluster replaced $2500,
The Benz i have no knowledge about so was hope ing someone could help me out

Trevor Deeley,

Shame on all of you. Anyone who buys a car or motorcycle in the USA and abandons their local market deserves to be gouged and punished. The duty charges on vehicles not made in north america is good but not enough.
Your local auto retailers thank you for your support! (sarcasm).
Good on all of you for spending your money in the USA rather than keeping it in Canada where it will be in turn re-spent in Canada and help grow our economy.....


Regarding volvos.. be aware they have an import inspection fee that costs $845.00 for an inspection that last less than two hours. I am importing an 06 Volv0xc70.
This was a surprise to me as I did not pay this "fee" when I brought in my 01 XC70. Volvo USA would not issue the recall clearance letter and stated it had to be done in Canada
This is my 4th import. and the biggest excess fee so far. I fared better with my 08 Honda Pilot last year and my 02BMW540 in 07
BMW had a smaller fee to provide the recall clearance letter. I dont recall the Honda fee being much of anything.


It is very easy to import a car from the USA, including BMW's which I do all the time. The dealers are furious of course but I really don't care. I can't share my email address since they'll spam me to death.
1. Seller in USA, you ask them to get you the recall clearance letter.
2. DRL, most have them already if not get a reputable auto electrics company to do it.
3. present ppwk for cdn inspection and out of province.
4. you can license it, no RIV needed, but I do it anyways for the sticker.
5. You've cut out the freaks at BMW Canada!
Enjoy your savings!


This is absolutely appalling! I've been trying to find out how to bring over a new BMW X5 and it's been a terrible run around. You find a dealership in Canada that wants to help you!! Awful!


I just bought a BMW X5 and I got the same issue with the one above. It is a kind of conspiracy, I believe. Apparently no any other brands ask buyer to do the "modifications" at their dealership even Posche doesn't ask people to do it. Those two Bs has some special relationship with Border agency? Their products is not even a car?! I am interested to join the lawsuit against Canada government and BMW and Benz too!

My email is

W.K. Bowman,

If you think this is bad try importing a Ferrari. The Vancouver dealer is charging something like 11000.00 dollars for a letter of compliance.


Dear friend, my name is karim,I have 5 years experience in auto parts and bearings,so i want open my own office,profit is 50% for you and 50% for me,so i just need some money not a big value, in first i need just 30000 Euro so you come in my country you see the market and you send me this money and you return to your country , so i rent a shop here in tunisia and i start working in this office, and the profit is 50% for you and 50% for me, i hope that you inderstand me, it's my target planning, if you have opinion please send me email to:


Relocating from the U.S. to Quebec, Canada, I'm just in the process of importing a 2008 MB C300 4matique.

Requested, and received, the MB admissibility letter from MB Canada (you can request this directly on their website). The U.S. dealer I originally purchased the vehicle from happily provided me the Warranty clearence letter and I experienced no issues whatsoever at the border (paid $1000CND tax). RIV, once I provided them with the warranty clearence letter, sent me the appropriate form for the Canadian Tire vehicle inspection. RIV stated I needed daytime runnings lights, speedometer/odometer labels for the cluster and a bilingual airbag sticker. Also a child seat kit.

O.K., I figure this is no problem. Just need to have the vehicle harness reprogramed for daytime running lights, get the labels and tether kit, and I'm good to to the SAAQ for my registration change. HA! MB says "we don't do 'labels' in our vehicles. We'll need to swap out the instrument cluster. Mods should run about...oh...$3000! What B.S.! Is this really necessary!? If I don't do this, will I have some issue with MB in the future if warranty work is required?

I completely agree. These tactics are clearly to strongly discourage Candians from entertaining any idea of purchasing on their vehicles south of the border.


I brought a 760Li in from the US 2 years ago. At that time no problem. I got a recall letter from the US dealer no problem and the DRL's done at Bavaria BMW in Edmonton, relatively easily.

Now! Watch out, talk about incredible abuse of power! Service bookings take 3 to 4 weeks. While under warranty, (37K) they finally listen and determine that there was a antifreeze leak. They wanted $2700 to fix it, until I pointed out that it was under warranty. They then told me I would have to wait 3-4 weeks. Then they said that some parts were missing Someone must have already worked on the Engine! This on a unit that is under warranty. Now I will have to pay $2-300 for missing clamps etc from Germany. Another 2-3 weeks, then they will see when they can fix it! I am sure that all this is because of it being a vehicle from the US.

Amazing thing is, I was thinking of trading it in and buying a new one in Canada. Now I will sell this unit, if I ever get it back from BMW and buy something else. Never a BMW!



How did you get your recall clearance letter? and how much did it cost?


I imported a 2003 mini cooper in Oct. 2008. The RIV form 2 did not require that the DRL's or any modifications be done by a BMW Dealer. I had the DRL's programmed on and had the odometer programmed for Kilometers and passed the federal inspection without any problems. BMW said I would need a cluster change at a cost of $2,000, but RIV did not require it. I am now fully registered in British Columbia.


I called up BMW to ask about a X5 I imported. The recorded message said that admissibilty clearance is not required any more. Woo!Woo! However, a recall clearance and modifications to 'test' daytime running lights(the car already has those) have to be done by a dealer to ensure they meet 'Canadian' standards. The tab: $900+gst, and no appointment available for a month. They are unable to compete, so they resort to such low tactics to protect their turf.


I bought a bmw and have been waiting for 3 weeks just to be able to drive it..Bmw canada is making me wait to receive a document wich should take 1 week.18 days later i am still waiting..Ive paid multiple useless fees so farm,in the end I am not even sure if I saved money


This is great. Much awaited.


I am planning on importing A BMW into Canada. I have talked to the dealer here and he says he needs to make a few changes. Day-time running lights and I'm not sure what else. Question is, can I save money by getting these modifications done before I bring it over? thanks


I have personally imported a 2005 Miata Mazdaspeed and 2004 Excursion Diesel. I figure after ALL expenses & fees I saved $20K plus. Today I spoke with a Vancouver area Volvo dealer as I also want to bring over a rare 1996 'R' wagon. I was told I'd be charged $1900 for some mandatory inspection before I could take it to Canadian Tire for the standard required inspections. Furthermore, only a Volvo dealer could perform the required repairs they find. Are you kidding I said! $1900 labor to inspect a 13 year old car with 200K kms! I can only imagine what they'd charge me if the rear main seal was slightly seeping! As much as I love Volvo, I decided today I would NEVER buy one again(at least not until Volvo Canada gets its act together and pricing in line; and hell freezes over I imagine). They must think we have rocks in our heads arrogant buggers!! My Miata was a great experience. My local Mazda Dealer installed my DRL's and helped me with the process. As a result I do get my car serviced there. Car Stealers, I mean,dealers don't make money their selling new cars anyway, it's all in the service after the fact.

I say buy American cars and spend the thousands you save at the Canadian Malls. Likely more helpful to the economy


I purchased an 03 Acura MDX from the states in September, 2007. After all was said and done I saved $7000. It was really quite simple, I just did a little research on the internet and had all my paper work in order, and it was smooth sailing. Until, the transmission went on it a week before christmas. Cost me $7000. Acura is paying half of the transmission cost, cause they realize that there was a problem between 01-03 transmissions. Which would have helped greatly, but since the vehicle was imported from the states they deemed it a "grey market" vehicle, and would not help out. What gets me is, the vehicle was manufactured in Canada, so how that makes it a "grey market" vehicle is beyond me. I was simply bringing it back home to where it belongs! Now would I buy from the states to save thousands again? Of course, who wouldn't. If you are feeling bad about not supporting the Canadian economy, don't worry, you are still paying the GST, and PST. So I say, stick it to the man!!! and save your money!

Emillie Lingnau,

Hey Guys, I work for a dealer/leaser in Calgary. My most difficult job is importation. There are so many little backstabbing tricks and fees that usually it's not worth the effort to get the price break you see between canadian/ us vehicles. the worst part is that there isn't anything we can really do. We can't get our cars registered in Canada without going through the steps they charge so steeply for. the only companies that you would still get a good price on after going through the process are MB and BMW even though it's such a time consuming process you practically have to quit your day job for three-eight weeks to get it done. Yeah MB is charging 20K less in the states but it's such a pain in the ass that it's almost not worth it to do it. My boss is reluctant to import MB anymore because of it and thats what our company does.

Anyway. I'm in the process of writing a Complete HOW TO IMPORT from the states for the 2008 year and it will be up on the Internet soon I PROMISE! you can find me on blogger as idiomatic.canadian at Idioms and Idiots or Ask Reception. I'll try to have it up today but it will have as much information as I can get onto it about importing all the cars I have ever Imported and as many as I can get organized off RIV.
P.s RIV is an awesome resource but for final word on admissibility you have to ask the manufacturer.

If you want a US car and don't want the hassle go to blackhorseautomotive com
I realize i just killed my credibility by advertising for the company i work for but it really is easier to get one from them than to do it yourself. just remember the only cars worth importing anymore are BMW and MB.

Will Zaraska,

I've been importing BMWs as a business for 20 years from Europe and the US. I race an M3 in the BMW CCA and instruct performance driving school students with BMWs. I love the marque. It's shortsighted for BMW to tag on these excessive fees. Sadly, I am pushing my clients into Audis and Porsches where there is greater value and less grief importing them.


I too am upset with all this red tape. I was on the verge of buying a bmw 5 series in las vegas at a massive discount im comparison to what is being charged here in canada. In fact the EXACT same vehicle I was going to import is listed at a local dealership for just over 29000 more! Even with all this hassle it is still worth jumping through all the hoops and just to spite any local bmw dealership, I will pay any all all associated costs to import the vehcile. But I agree with all other posts in the sense that why should we pay, as Canadians, more for vehicles than our American friends? Truly, the Canadian government has egg on its face and needs to stop manufactures from taking advantage of Canadian consumers.


I dont think car manufacturers should be blamed for this. The only thing they care is profit, so if nothing stops them to sell their cars at higher prices they will continue to do so; you can't really blame them. The Canadian goverment should intervene and protect the consumer, but then again its Canada, anything is tolerated, which is pretty sad


Simply pissed at this situation.


How is it that all of a sudden they are not sure these vehicles are admissible any more? I have a copy of the admissibility list from RIV from a year ago, and most BMW's and all Volvo's were admissible up to 2007.


I cannot believe that these co's can get away with this!! I want to import a used bmw...but says we have to check with bmw canada in the admissable vehicles doc. Why are the necessary changes not documented like most other auto co's??? What do we have to do to join together to fight this anti-trade, anti-competition behaviour?


This is criminal behaviour on the part of BMW Canada and Mercedes Benz Canada.

Here's some background on how Mercedes Benz canada charge higher prices for the same cars that sell in the US for 30-50% less.

Mercedes Benz canada, actually have an arrangement with their parent company, (Daimler Chrysler Benz Germany) The german parent co, charges Mercedes Benz canada 30-40% more for the wholesale cost of the vehicle...

so mercedes benz canada buy a c300 from germany for CAD$32,000 and the MSRP in canada is CAD$41,000

mercedes benz USA buy the identical vehicle from germany for US$18,000 and MSRP it for US$32,000

so basically the extra money that MB is making on the canadian car goes back to germany, where Mercedes Benz gets all kinds of tax breaks and incentives...MB Canada reports a smaller profit and the canadian buyer gets stung for an extra $9,000 on the BASE cost.

it's criminal conspiracy tax evasion in canada, because MB Germany are inflating the cost to shift revenue back to germany, and MB Canadas measures to block US imports are conspiracy to fix pricing and prevent competition, What the hell is going on Canada, what happened to NAFTA?

Mercedes Benz Canadas statement on pricing discrepancy with the US: "We dont compete with other markets, we compete in the Canadian market"


It appears as though we are subsidizing the US marketplace.....if the price for imported vehicles is too high in the states, the vehicles won't sell. The only way they can compete is to keep their prices for Canada, we're gullible & willing to pay the price.

Same can be said for other consumer items.


It's a clear conspiracy and it has allowed Mercedes and BMW to keep their prices high in Canada to gouge consumers. They're able to do it because the majority of their clientele are well off enough to shrug off the cost, and their products are in demand. Almost every other car company has been forced to reduce prices dramatically to bring them into line with fair market value for the cars based on the high Canadian dollar. For example, the Infiniti M35 dropped frrom 56k to 49k; Infiniti doesn't have a BMW like policy. Even Audi and Lexus have lowered prices dramatically although they have policies preventing the sale of vehicles to Canadians in America (used vehicles can still be purchased).

The reality is, the government shouldn't stand by and let this happen to "protect our economy" because if they open up the borders free and clear, Mercedes and BMW Canada will be forced to lower prices to protect their own dealers in Canada; market forces will do a fine job of protecting Canada's economy. BMW and Mercedes shouldn't be able to exploit them to supplement their black bottom lines. (They both are billion+ euro profit makers).


I'm interested in importing a 2006 Volvo...apparently i would require 2 vehicle inspections...firstly, a safety inspection by Volvo this time they'd also perform any modifications that had to be made to Canadian"ize" the vehicle....this inspection is $1950.00. YUP, almost 2 thousand bucks at the volvo dealership here in Edmonton. Then it has to be given an out of province inspection by the likes of Canadian Tire. What a bloody joke...typical of we Canadians being told to bend over & smile. This is obviously to act as a deterent to prevent Canadians from importing. Appears to me that Volvo is anti-Canadian....and the Government is allowing this.


I found out that a Canadian citizen cannot drive a US vehicle (even if you own it) across the border. Border services told me that I would have to pay the GST (non refundable)on the car before I would be allowed to enter Canada. I went back to Bellingham (to rent a car) the clerk at the counter said there would be no problem driving across with a rental.... WRONG!!!
I phoned a friend to pick me up at the border.....


Is there a lawsuit being filed. I lived in L.A. and own a mini cooper. I am coming back to Canada to live and I am appalled by the red tape and mostly by the expense BMW is inflicting on me. What action can I take to protest?

Dave Patrick,

BMW wants to replace the instrument cluster, & heater controls >$4000.00. Standards at TC does not require this.

David Johnston,

Apparently now you also need Volvos' permission to import a volvo into Canada from the U.S

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