License exchange and car rental problem

Canada Immigration Forum (discussion group)


 
visaplace.com            
Subject: License exchange and car rental problem
  For new permanent residents who have U.S. drivers licenses and plan on exchanging to Canadian, beware of something (as I just found out).

Once you exchange to a Canadian license, it is almost impossible to rent a car in the U.S. and then be allowed to drive it to Canada. There are apparently strict laws preventing residents of one country from renting in the other and then driving across the border. Your residence is determined by which country´s drivers license you have. So better to delay exchanging until transition and move is complete.

[13-11-2006,22:45]
[**.53.231.75]
Anonymous
(in reply to: License exchange and car rental problem)
Thanks for the tip.
[14-11-2006,01:58]
[**.113.209.221]
Anonymous
(in reply to: License exchange and car rental problem)
That´s interesting. I wonder why it´s no problem for an American to rent a Canadian car and drive it across the border back to the US? Or for an American to rent an American car and drive it to Canada? Most car rental companies in the US don´t care, and most insurance covers you no matter which country you are in. I wonder why it´s different for Canadians???
[14-11-2006,08:52]
[**.95.51.145]
wannabecanadian
(in reply to: License exchange and car rental problem)
That was me who posted this (inadvertantly left my name off). This is particular to Canadian customs law. I found this out when calling Budget to rent a car to go from the U.S. to Canada. They mentioned I must have a U.S. drivers license. I said what happens if I have an Ontario license, and that´s when all this was explained to me.

From the National Car Rental web site, here´s what they say about this. I think Canadian permanent residents fall under this as well:

The Canadian Import Law prohibits Canadian Citizens from taking a U.S. owned rental vehicle from the U.S. into Canada. The rental vehicle will be seized by Canadian Customs at the border, whether the Canadian renter plans to return the vehicle to a U.S. or Canadian location. The U.S. owned rental vehicle cannot be imported into Canada, even to temporarily cross the border. However, a Canadian may rent a Canadian owned vehicle in the U.S. and return it to Canada or cross the border without the vehicle being seized. Any U.S. Citizen renting a vehicle in the U.S. may drive across the U.S./Canadian border with no restrictions. The driver may be asked by Customs to show a rental agreement and a form of identification, such as a driver´s license.

I think the reverse is not true for Americans. So it seems Canadian laws bringing in rental vehicles are much stricter. I´m now realizing now why you had such a hard time last time with the rented car, Wannabe.

[14-11-2006,15:01]
[**.53.231.75]
Richard
(in reply to: License exchange and car rental problem)
Interesting, Richard. Thanks for posting this. So have you transferred your drivers licence to an Ontario licence already? Yes, this probably does explain a lot of the suspicion surrounding the rental car. Valuable information, as always. Thanks!
[14-11-2006,18:09]
[**.95.51.145]
wannabecanadian
(in reply to: License exchange and car rental problem)
Wannabe - yes, I already did the drivers license exchange to Ontario (that province requires new residents to exchange their licenses within 60 days). And that´s why the issue now with renting a car in the U.S. and crossing.

I called Canadian Customs today. Found out why I had such a hard time crossing with my Illinois licensed car last time.

Once you´ve landed and become a resident, you can´t be taking your U.S. registered car back and forth across the border. Canada does not allow its citizens or permanent residents to take personal vehicles registered in the U.S. across the border - they must be imported first.

Shot down again in my plans, as I wanted to go back and forth with our U.S licensed vehicle to gradually move our stuff. I´ve now sent a copy of our vehicles title to U.S. Customs at the border and plan to export/import next week to avoid this hassle with Canadian Immigration at the border. Next issue is re-insuring the vehicle in Canada (at twice the U.S. insurance rates!). Surprises never seem to end.

[14-11-2006,19:39]
[**.53.231.75]
Richard
(in reply to: License exchange and car rental problem)
Wow--this is really important information. Sorry you have to import your car right now; aside from a serious insurance hike in rates, how will this affect your being insured while living here? Will your Canadian insurance cover you completely here? I suppose so, just as most US insurance covers US drivers in Canada.

I hope you don´t mind clarifying (as far as you understand it)a question. When we landed, we didn´t provide (weren´t allowed to provide) an address, and therefore we aren´t technically residents of any specific province. We haven´t bought property, we haven´t switched drivers licences, and we haven´t declared an address. We also haven´t imported our car, and drove a rental when we landed. My question, then, is whether we´ll need to import the car next time we cross the border. True we are PRs, but we are still, in every way, residents of the US. I´m really confused. From what it sounds like, we will have to import it, so to avoid any hassles we´ll have to rent a car again just to go on holiday. Ridiculous. Also, you mentioned that Ontario gives 60 days to switch your drivers licence; is that 60 days from landing or 60 days from acquiring an address? We´ll have to seriously think about when we want to apply for our PR cards if it´s 60 days from declaring an address.

Thanks as always for your help and for your postings!

[14-11-2006,20:37]
[**.95.51.145]
wannabecanadian
(in reply to: License exchange and car rental problem)
Those are good questions. I think the answers depend on how you´ll cross the border.

If you cross with your own car and identify yourselves as PRs, you´ll probably be asked why you haven´t imported your car yet. This is regardless of whether you have your PR card yet, a Canadian drivers license, own property, or have an address in Canada. Remember, you became a PR the moment you landed, not when you receive the PR card. They indicated (wrote) when you became a resident in your passport on the page near your visa.

The key for Canadian Immigration here is that you´re now a PR, have already submitted to Customs your "Goods" and "Goods to Follow" lists (which presumably has your car(s) to be imported listed), and you´re now crossing the border with your car that you listed to be imported. This they don´t like - they want you to import it asap

If you cross and do not identify yourself as a PR (just show your U.S. license and indicate you´re just visiting), they should be ok with your bringing in your U.S. licensed car.
However, saying this and not mentioning PR status may be not be 100% upfront. Personally, I wouldn´t go this route in order not to jeopordize my PR status.

Lastly, car insurance should be valid from both sides, if you´re just visting the other side. And Ontario requires drivers license exchange with 60 days of becoming an Ontario resident - which is the day your became a PR and also the day of landing, not when you get an address there.

Whew, I feel like this is crossing the Berlin wall with all these requirements! Hope this helps, as we´re just running into all these "facts" during our move.

[14-11-2006,21:10]
[**.53.231.75]
Richard
(in reply to: License exchange and car rental problem)
Following copied from Ontario´s drivers licence info web site:

"If you are a new resident of Ontario and have a valid driver´s licence from another province or country, you can use that licence for a maximum of 60 days in Ontario. If you want to continue to drive after 60 days, you must get an Ontario driver´s licence."

Also you may have an issue as a new PR bringing in a U.S. rental car, as mentioned earlier in this thread. So plan for questions from them on that.

[14-11-2006,21:29]
[**.53.231.75]
Richard
(in reply to: License exchange and car rental problem)
Well, since we aren´t residents of Ontario (or of any province), I´m not going to worry about the drivers licence issue yet. And now at least we´ll be prepared for questions no matter how we enter Canada, if we visit before we move (which is likely). I´m thinking we might have gotten lucky that the IO didn´t allow us to declare an address, but as we´re all finding out, it´s all a pretty random process. It must be strange, from the customs/immigration/border control point of view, all this coming and going and moving and visiting by new PRs who have landed but aren´t yet living there. I can´t blame them at all for trying to get ahold of each individual situation. It really is, after all, in everyone´s best interest in the end.

All this information helped so much, Richard. Thank you for spending so much time on this! :)

I hope you´ll let us know how the car importation goes!

[14-11-2006,22:28]
[**.95.51.145]
wannabecanadian
(in reply to: License exchange and car rental problem)
I was just re-reading all this stuff, and saw where you included that the day you become an Ontario resident is the day you land. I´m wondering how this can be; simply because we landed in Ontario, we might be headed elsewhere. Currently we aren´t, technically, residents of anywhere in Canada, we just have the right to live there. Maybe I´m worrying too much about tiny details, but I just want, like all of us, to make sure we´re doing this right. Do you have any idea who I might contact in order to get concrete answers about the drivers licence issue? If we have to get Ontario drivers licences within 60 days of landing, we´ve got to get on the ball, but doing that will open up a mountain of other questions (not the least of which is that we don´t have a Canadian address). Thanks so much!
[14-11-2006,23:08]
[**.95.51.145]
wannabecanadian