Thinking about buying or importing a vehicle from the U.S.?








ICBC predicts that the tens of thousands of vehicles damaged by Hurricane Sandy will soon begin appearing in jurisdictions all over North America, including B.C. Despite these vehicles being deemed ‘not legal’ to drive in Canada, past reports have shown that up to 27% of vehicles damaged due to extreme weather and accidents in the U.S. have been retitled as ‘undamaged’ in another state.

Although several steps are being taken to have this prevented by Transport Canada, ICBC has the following recommendations when considering purchasing or importing a vehicle from the U.S.:

  • To best protect yourself, try to buy a vehicle only from a licensed dealer.
  • If you’re planning on buying a new or used car from a private seller, here are some tips that can help you detect flood damage in a vehicle and avoid being taken advantage of:


    • Ask about damage: Ask the seller directly whether the car has been damaged by water or anything else and get the answer in writing.
    • Check for water damage and look out for:
      • damp or musty odours inside the vehicle and in the trunk
      • signs of rust and mud in the vents, trunk, glove box and beneath the seats and dashboard
      • rusty brackets under the seats or carpets
      • discoloured upholstery or carpet that fits poorly or doesn’t match exactly
      • a water line underneath the hood that has been marked by mud or silt


    • Test everything: Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter and radio. Turn the heater and air conditioner on/off several times just to make sure they work. Make sure that all gauges are in working condition.
    • Get it inspected: Prior to purchasing a used vehicle, have it inspected by a trusted and certified mechanic. A technician specializing in electrical and electronic diagnosis should be consulted if you suspect the vehicle may have suffered flood damage.
    • Research the vehicle’s history: Companies such as CarProof and Carfax offer history reports on vehicles from the U.S. CarProof has even set up a free online tool that searches its database to look for flood titles and storm area registration and can tell you if a vehicle has ever sustained water damage in the U.S.
    • Ask for the vehicle’s U.S. registration: Note that the registration will only indicate flood damage if the seller’s insurance company officially declared the car to have been salvaged.

For more information on importing a vehicle, contact Transport Canada’s registrar of imported vehicles at 1-888-848-8240.

For the full article please visit ICBC’s website here.

Useful links:


For more information on Buntain Insurance’s Autoplan services, please visit our website –