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407 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thinking of buying a boat from Washington State and was wondering if anyone has done this before and can help me out? If so what is the best way to insure the boat and how is it to bring used boats across the border, registration, taxes or duty, etc...? Any help or others experience would greatly be appreciated.


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1,386 Posts
Thats a tough one. Try this, get insurance on the trailer first. Shouldn't be a problem if the seller sends you the reg number, or just tell the insrance agent that you custom built the trailer yourself. (Done that before).

As for the boat, make all of the arrangements and try one of two things........have him send you a bill of sale, then get the boat licensed in Canada, then go down and pick it up...on your way back you can say your coming back from a fishing trip. Or......try and have the guy meet you in Canada and do everything here!

Just a couple of thoughts, haven't done it myself but probably what I am going to do when I get a new boat!

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606 Posts
Come on Trav,,,dangerous advice,extremely easy to get your stuff seized doing that...
Bringing a boat and trailer across from U.S. is a piece of cake....A bit of paperwork but nothing that tough...
For the boat all you need is a bill of sale and title if there is one, The trailer is more paperwork, Bill of Sale,title and inspection done in Canada...
I've brought 3 boats and trailers back,,,just have your ducks in order before you go down to the U.S. and its no problem...
You can easily get temporary permits to tow in U.S.

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25 Posts
I would follow abbyfireguy's advice onthis one ... I brought a boat from Wash. 2 years ago and it was no problem .... all I would add is be prepared to pay our good ol government the taxes they have due on the boat the trailer taxes will be collected when you insure it (after an inspection) ( so have the price of the boat and trailer separate) or you could take your own trailer down empty if just buying a boat .

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1,386 Posts
abbyfireguy said:
Come on Trav,,,dangerous advice,extremely easy to get your stuff seized doing that...
Bringing a boat and trailer across from U.S. is a piece of cake....A bit of paperwork but nothing that tough...
For the boat all you need is a bill of sale and title if there is one, The trailer is more paperwork, Bill of Sale,title and inspection done in Canada...
I've brought 3 boats and trailers back,,,just have your ducks in order before you go down to the U.S. and its no problem...
You can easily get temporary permits to tow in U.S.
Yeah I guess that is more of what not to do then eh ::) , probably be the last thing you would want happen to the new ride, impound :-[

However, what would happen if the guy from down south was to come up here and then do the sale in canada? Would there still be duty and taxes? And inspection?

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606 Posts
There are still all the forms that the border people give you that are expected when transferring and registering an out of country vehicle(trailer)...
Believe me I DID look at every angle,but its not worth the risk... :naughty:

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303 Posts
I found this info:


"Here is a piece I wrote in responce to somebody on another forum describing my experiences in buying a boat in Washington.

Hope it helps.

Here's a handy link to The Registrar of Imported Vehicles:
These people are quite informative (and they are in the office until 8:00 pm
our time, which makes it easier to get in touch. I reccomend you give them a

The process at the border was quite painless. Took about 45 minutes. Customs
was helpful and knowledgeable! BUT, that came about because I had done the
research ahead of time, phoned them (and RIV) and had ALL the paperwork. I
emphasize this because, while I was there, they did turn around and send
back to the US another guy because he didn't have enough paper - bills of
sale and the like. (This was at the Truck Crossing by the Peace Arch.)

The process I went through was:

1. Make the deal and buy the boat, after mechanical check by a mechanic and
a sea trial.

2. I had discussed the potential purchase with my insurance agent and
obtained the necessary forms for insurance coverage on the boat. I completed
the forms with required info, e.g., the boats HIN - hull identification
number, length, etc., and faxed the form to the agent.

3. Because I was in Tacoma and relatively close to the border, I drove back
to White Rock and obtained a bank draft to pay the vendor. I also purchased
from an ICBC agent a "binder" policy on the trailer to provide temporary
insurance and licensing in BC (about 30.00). You may be able to buy this
'binder policy' over the phone from your ICBC agent from wherever you make
the purchase. Check with an agent.

4. Returned to Washington and bought a "transit permit" from the State
Department of Motor Vehicles to allow me to use the trailer in Washington.
If you buy in Oregon, my understanding is that you would need to get a
"transit permit" from both Oregon and Washington. I think it was about
24.00. You can find info on their State DMV websites. The only thing they
asked for was my drivers license and the 24.00, didn't matter if it was a
trailer or a car.

US Customs requires you to declare when you bring in more than $10,000.00
US. When I went back down I declared the bank draft to the guy in the booth, but,
because it was payable to the vendor and had not been endorsed, he didn't
consider it to be a negotiable instrument. Doesn't hurt to declare it and
even if they change their minds and want a paper trail, it's only a 5 minute

5. Return to border with boat and trailer:
Have title papers, for boat and trailer. In Washington they have a form for
the boat license that is an 'official' document. It has to be signed off by
the owner.
The trailer will have it's own official title papers, which again has to be
signed off by the owner.
Make sure you get these and that they are signed off.

Bills of Sale. You will require two.
The first should cover the boat, motor, and any other gear attached to the
boat (radio, depth sounder, downriggers etc.).
The second bill of sale is for the trailer only.

At the border Customs will charge you the GST and PST on the value of the
boat plus the GST on the value of the trailer. They will also charge you a
fee of $209.00 for the vehicle inspection. Yup, it adds up. The only good
thing I can say is they take Visa or Mastercard.

Although I wasn't asked for it, I have heard of people being asked to
document the actual payment made for the boat/trailer purchase. This would
be covered by having a copy of the bank draft or whatever that you issued to
the seller as well as the bill of sale. Presumably they reserve this in case somebody tries to lowball
them on the purchase price to reduce the GST/PST (which I admit I thought of
doing, but decided against even trying believing the importing process would
be fraught with enough difficulty, and also did not want an insurance hassle
in case something did happen on my way home).

Once home the RIV sent me a form - which, when I had not received it after a
week, I phoned them and they e-mailed it to me. Take this form, plus your
other papers and the trailer, to a Canadian Tire store (they have the
exclusive contract for vehicle inspections) for a 15 minute check over. Make
sure reflectors are all in place, they don't care if the lights work as long
as the reflectors are in place. They also check the VIN number on the
trailer, manufacturer's load rating, and tire rating and a couple other
items. Not a problem to pass. No charge at Cdn Tire, but you already paid
RIV 209.00 for the inspection.

Once Canadian Tire gives you a pass and the appropriate paperwork, you can
then go to an ICBC agent and get licence plates for the trailer. At this
time you pay the PST on the trailer.

You also have to trot off to "Service Canada" (Blanshard Street), who, as of
April 4th, are taking over boat registration from Canada Customs. Surprise,
no charge for registering the boat. They issue the 14K number.

If you buy a boat, 1999 or older and it has a 'factory' trailer, it may be
a Calkins trailer. One of the requirements of importing the trailer is that
you have a Recall Clearance Letter from the manufacturer. Unfortunately
Calkins went out of business in 1999. What I did was do a Google search for
Calkins Trailers and you should turn up a story from the Spokane Journal of
Commerce (from 1999) about Calkins closing up. I printed this and included
it in my paper package. When I got to Cdn Tire for the inspection they ask
for the Recall Clearance Letter. I had them call RIV for a recall clearance
letter Waiver form, which they immediately faxed to Cdn Tire. I filled the
form out, attached the news story I had printed out, added that I had done
web and phone book searches but was unable to contact Calkins. This
satisfies everybody.

Try to make sure the Manufacturer's decal with load capacity and VIN number
are still attached to the trailer. I'm not sure what the procedure would be
if they are missing.

To keep the paper trail clean, double check to make sure the VIN on the
trailer and the HIN on the boat are correctly recorded on the owners title
papers and bills of sale.

I think I hit all the bases, but I would suggest you talk to Canadian
Customs, Registrar of Imported Vehicles, and insurance agent before setting
out. I found them all to be helpful, and importing boats and trailers into
Canada is not unfamiliar to them.

For making payment in the US I would talk to your bank. I couldn't come up
with a simpler - or safer - method than as I described above. If you
purchase the US Funds before you go, then decide not to make the purchase
when you try the boat, you are then stuck with a large amount of US money
which you may have to sit on or sell back to the bank (at a loss of 4-5%).

I was dealing with a private seller so as part of the deal he agreed to
deliver the boat to me in Blaine, which cut down my travel time a lot.
Perhaps you could make a similar arrangement to get it delivered at least
partways. Or, if you are buying from a boat dealer, perhaps they can be more
accomodating (put it all on Visa?)."

Good luck,


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407 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow, great information, I will definitely try to have all my ducks in order. Sounds like the process will not be difficult as long as my homework is done. Thanks again,

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167 Posts
i bought mine in oregon last year, was pretty painless but it will be probably 2 months before you get all the paperwork done. RIV takes some time as does getting a bc registration #. duty, taxes and you'll need a letter of no recall for the trailer from the manufacturer, that was the hardest for me since i couldn't find the office of the manufacturer.

northern oregon is a good place to look too. you'll save a few thousand

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707 Posts
why not sell the used trailer down there? I went down with a trailer purchased in BC, bought boat boat and motor. Showed up to the border , paid PST and GST and was throught the border in about 20 minutes. Very painless.

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407 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I would like to say thanks to all who posted, it made my purchase very easy and quick. I was able to have all my i's dotted and t's crossed before I went to pick up the boat, and the whole transaction went very smooth. Once again thanks,

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