www.canadaho.com Landing Experience

I guess I was lucky. I had a pretty soft "Landing". All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly it all went.

I left Oakland, California with my car filled to the hilt. I had packed my car with as much as I could to save on shipping expenses and drove all the way to Eugene, Oregon where I spent the night. The next day I arrived early in the afternoon at Seattle, Washington. This was the first time I had come to Seattle. I drove around quite a bit in Seattle and thought it was a beautiful city. For several years Seattle had been listed as one of the most livable cities in the US. That day, there was a cultural festival in downtown Seattle and when I found out about it I promptly headed in that direction. Got to hear some good Jazz and some African music; besides the food was great too.

The next day I started driving towards the border - a little nervous. About two and a half hours later, around noon, I was on the US side of the border on Pacific Highway. I went over to the US Customs building. They had received the faxed copy of my car's Title and asked me to show them the original. Two minutes later, the customs officer photocopied my Title, stamped it for export and I was free to go ahead. Next I got into the line of cars that were crossing the border. It wasn't too long and within a few minutes I was at the Canadian outpost.

There are several booths and officers direct you to them. The officer in the booth that I had driven to, took a look at my Passport, asked me what business I had, and when I told her I was "Landing", briefly described the stuff I was bringing on a small form and handed the form to me. She pointed towards the Cutoms and Immigration building next to the booths and asked me to pull up in the parking lot.

My first stop in the building was at Immigration. I showed my Passport and Landing Document (Record of Landing). He asked me how much money I had brought with me as settling funds and when I told him I had a cashiers cheque with me in U.S. dollars for the required amount, he entered the amount in Canadian dollars on my Landing Document. He was extremely polite, entered a couple of other things on the Landing Document and made a photocopy. He then stapled the original to my Passport and put an "Admission" stamp with the date in the Passport. Next, he informed me that I was now a Permanent Resident of Canada and I would have the same rights as a Canadian citizen except I could not vote. He also welcomed me to Canada and asked me to proceed to Customs.

The Customs Officer was extremely friendly. She looked at my "List of Goods Accompanying me" and the "List of Goods to Follow" and was glad that I had come prepared with detailed lists. She mentioned that sometimes new immigrants do not bring these lists with them and the whole process takes much longer. Next she asked me to pay GST (Goods and Services Tax) on the Blue Book value of my car for the amount that exceeded $10,000.

I was a little surprised but I payed the GST. Two months later when I looked at the Settling in Canada page of the Canada Border Servics Agency web site, it appeared to me that I should not have payed GST on my car. I called up the the Superintendant of Customs at the Pacific Highway border and explained the situation to him. He realized that this was a mistake and apologized. He offered to correct it if I would come and meet him with all my documents. Alternatively, he mentioned that I could go to the Customs and Revenue Canada office in downtown Vancouver. I went there and filled up the required forms - the officer there again was very polite - and told me I would get a refund in 6-8 weeks! I guess the Customs Officer I met at the border must have made an honest mistake and that's only human, though I certainly am glad to be able to get that money back! (About 2 months later I received a cheque from CCRA towards the refund. The cheque was for a tenth of what was owed me - misplaced decimal point due to human error I guess or just a comedy of errors - but eventually I did get back the balance.)

Anyway, going further, the Customs Officer then handed me a form (Vehicle Import Form - Form1) with details of my car and directed me to the offices of a Customs Broker which are in a building across the street. Here I had to pay a fee for importing my car. You can find details about this fee at the Registrar of Imported Vehicles web site.

After spending about 15 minutes with the Customs Broker, I returned to the Customs Officer. She stamped my Form1, chatted a little about Vancouver, assured me that I would like it there and before I knew it I was on my way to my new home - Vancouver!

I must re-emphasize, this was an extremely pleasant experience thanks to the friendly Immigration and Customs officers.

If any of you would like to share your experience for the benefit of newcomers email me, and I will post it here.

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 First Posted on: 14th Nov, 1999
 Updated on: 4th Sep, 2003