Brief Guide on How to Import a Boat From the USA to Canada

import a boat from the USA

So, when it comes to importing a boat, there will always be work involved. Here in Canada, it’s particularly common to import a boat from the USA since it’s just across the border. This process will have a few different stages that should be sure to follow for a smooth process.

 Import a Boat From the USA, Before the Purchase

Before actually purchasing the boat in question, it’s always a good idea to hire a broker, for they are familiar with the procedures necessary to import a boat from the USA. However, you can do the process yourself. Just make sure that you get all the papers necessary for the border crossing of the boat, such as ownership titles, licenses, invoices, and the like, as well as any licenses and taxes owed for when you are back here in Canada.

Check Ownership Status

It will be up to you to check for liens that may be placed on the boat, such as loans and unpaid repairs. It’s always a good idea to check for these yourself even if the seller claims that the ownership is clear of them. Also worth noting is that if the boat comes with a trailer, the trailer will need to have a valid VIN, so call the Canadian Registrar of Imported Vehicles to find out if the VIN is valid before the purchase.

Purchase the Boat

Now, it’s good to arrange a professional boat survey for the hull and the motor before making a formal offer in order to avoid any potential surprises and to help negotiate a good price. If the seller offers a survey, don’t go for them. Instead, find someone on your own to stay on the safer side. Don’t sign an agreement of purchase until you have checked everything and are confidently ready to buy the boat. Regardless of the payment method, make paper copies of all the transactions involved.

Arrange for Import

Once the purchase is completed, arrange for the insurance. In some cases, your tow vehicle’s insurance can be extended to cover a boat or trailer when transporting them back to Canada. At the border, do not stop at United States Customs. Instead, stop at Canada Customs and declare that you are importing the boat, including the value and selling price of the boat. Always tell the truth when asked questions, but know you don’t have to give any details they’re not asking for.

Register Your New Import 

Once you and your new boat are back in Canada, it will be time to make sure that it’s properly registered. After all, the Canada Shipping Act of 2001 is very clear in stating that most commercial boats, as well as a lot of recreational ones, will need to be registered. And, when the time comes for you to import a boat from the USA and register it, we can help you out. Here at the National Vessel Registry Center Corp can provide you with all the necessary forms for you to carry it out properly. And, should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by calling +1 (800) 419-9569 or emailing us at