Getting the boat into Canada was actually very simple. The correct term is 'Importing A Vessel Into Canada'. But please, don't take my word for it - you REALLY should call Canada Customs to get their story. But don't be surprised to get more than one interpretation of what is required - we got three different ones. If you are considering having your boat trucked into the country, the firm you use should be able to handle the border crossing directly, if they are a licensed broker. Check with any potential companies to see what services they offer. The only part you would be handling in that scenario is any Custom Brokerage fees, and the HST on the boat. If you have a trucking firm in mind already, check with them to see how they approach that issue.
Our boat was purchased in Harrison Township, Michigan, which is located on Lake St. Clair, just north of Detroit. Our journey home took us through Lake St. Clair, up the St. Clair River to Sarnia, Ontario (where we 'Imported' the vessel). Onward from there, we traveled north on Lake Huron, through Georgian Bay and down the Trent Severn Waterway to our home port.
|Heading up the St Clair River (Canada to the right, US to the left)|
Most times, a Custom's officer would come to the boat, do a quick look around and perform the paperwork there, but apparently they were too busy that night to spare anyone and that's why we had to walk over to them . .
All I had to show the Custom's folks was the bill of sale, the 'Deletion From Documentation' from the previous owner and pay the HST on the sales price. As it was, the only thing question by the woman in charge was how I got the boat so cheap! Quick note; have available any web listings, emails or whatever else to back up the purchase price. We bought the boat through a local yacht broker, so that made things look better & more 'legit' to the Customs folks.
One other thing to make note of is how much you are going to have to pay at Custom's. Under the terms of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), any boats built in either Canada, the US or Mexico during the past number of years is only subject to the HST (in Ontario), and free from duties.
|A cautious captain keeps a close eye on all systems on his new ship.|
|Approaching the Bluewater Bridge @ Sarnia, Ontario.|
Ok, back to the part about 'Deletion From Documentation' I mentioned. Here we go - boats in the United States can be considered a second home, complete with a mortgage and all the financial repercussions that go along with that. So, many boats are 'Documented' with the U.S. Coast Guard, as an official status as to who owns - or is 'Titled' to - the boat, including creditors that may appear on the Title. Think of it like a Deed to your home. Same idea.
How does one do that, you ask? Simple. Pay someone to do it for you. I found a firm online that takes care of all that stuff for a very reasonable fee of only $250. Do a Google search for those services to find an appropriate representative. And don't worry where they are physically located - our guy was in California and it all worked out fine. Thank you InterWeb :-)
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!!!The only reason we were able to get the boat that we did was because of the dramatic savings (40% less!) over buying a similar model here in Canada. Yes, it was initially stressful, with all the running around and setting things up to make it actually happen - compounded by the fact that we had to drive a boat home, through mostly foreign waters, that was brand new to us and a complete change from what we had been driving previously.
One final note about driving a US registered boat into Canada. If you don't have a chance to get your Ontario numbers for the boat right away, be prepared to be boarded by Canada Customs officers at any Ontario port you may visit. We were approached both at Kincardine (our first stop after leaving Sarnia) and then again at Parry Sound. They (Customs) travel around to all ports of entry to make sure everything is copacetic with both Canadians AND Americans visiting these ports, checking mostly to see if they have cleared their passports. This is where that 9 digit number comes in to play, as they WILL ask you for it.
All that said, it was an adventure to remember for the rest of our lives and immense inspiration to one day soon travel further and farther! I'd say that if you had an opportunity to do the same - and save a few bucks - then go for it. Well worth the running around, by far.